I went to London in early July with my father, SCM Publisher Keith Martin, to attend a special anniversary dinner at Bonhams’ headquarters — and to witness the unveiling of the Ferrari 250 GTO consigned for Bonhams’ August 14-15 auction in Carmel, CA.
Last week I spoke with Bonhams Chairman Robert Brooks. Brooks discussed the historic significance of the car, why it’s being offered without reserve, and what it feels like to sell such a rare and important vehicle.
What were your initial thoughts when you learned Bonhams was going to be selling the car?
When I first heard we had been selected to sell the cars by Maranello Rosso Ltd., I was of course very excited. I am aware the sellers had been talking to at least three auction houses, and we were naturally delighted our proposals had won the day. I am sure a number of factors came into play in their decision making — but for sure, one of those was Bonhams’ recent track record at selling successfully very important cars of historical significance. In fairness, our research team — headed by Doug Nye — also played a significant role in getting us the business. They really are the best.
Why is it a big deal that it is being offered without reserve?
I think people were surprised that sellers would be prepared to put a car of this significance and value forward for sale without reserve. That is a little unusual. I believe, however, it was a logical decision, and I hope and believe their confidence in the marketplace will be justified by the results.
What do you find to be personally interesting about the car?
I find the car’s history and presence to be the most interesting aspect of its personality. It has a wonderful feel to it — an old warrior as Doug Nye has described it. It tells you at first sight that it has been a racer all its life.
Why do you think we haven’t seen this car cross the block since 1990? Is it a hard car for people to part with?
One reason the GTO rarely appears for public sale is that there has always been an effective “waiting list” of collectors wanting to acquire one. Typically, when a car gets loose it gets snapped up.
Do you think we are going to see more of these important cars come up for sale without reserve because the young generation inheriting them doesn’t appreciate the cars in the same way?
I suspect we may well see more important cars come to market as another generation of car collectors reaches the stage where estate planning becomes a significant consideration — or more sadly, where the collectors themselves pass away. I feel we are in that period now — there is a generation shift taking place around us. Children of course do not always follow their parents interests. Many do, however, and it is good to see second- and third-generation car collector families enjoying their cars, but it is also heathy that cars pass from keeper to keeper as individuals’ interests change and develop over time and also over generations. I have witnessed this whole scene evolve over some 40 years and, I must say from my viewpoint the car collecting hobby has never been in better health than it is today.
Lastly, any thoughts or overall comments?
My overall comments could go on for pages. In simple terms however, this is a truly magnificent car, and for the entire Bonhams motoring team it is a great honour to have been selected to bring it and the other nine cars from the Maranello Rosso Collection to market. We are all really looking forward to August 14th and 15th. See you there!