For the past 40 years, the Ferrari 250 GTO has been the “Mona Lisa” of the collector-car market.

They represent the last of the front-engined Ferrari customer cars that could be driven on the street and then taken to the track. They were contenders for overall victory in events such as the Tour de France. In their era, they were the ultimate usable supercar.

When one comes to market, the world sits up and notices.

In 2014, Alexandra and I were at Bonhams’ headquarters on New Bond Street in London when Robert Brooks announced that chassis 3851GT would be sold at their Quail Lodge Auction in Monterey — at no reserve.

In a conversation that evening with Robert, he was candid that “this wasn’t the best GTO.” It had been crashed more than once and a previous owner had met his end in it, anathema to many European buyers. He predicted it would bring about $38 million.

He was spot-on, as the all-in price was $38,115,000.

Just three months ago, it was announced that GTO chassis 4153GT had been purchased for a record price in excess of $70 million by American collector David MacNeil, founder of WeatherTech. Our own Simon Kidston had an exclusive interview with MacNeil. It’s on p. 72.

RM Sotheby’s recently announced that another GTO, chassis 3413GT, will be offered for sale at no reserve at their Monterey auction this year. It has a superb history, if not at quite the level of 4153GT. Their announced estimate is $45m, but most expect it to go for more — if not much more.

Both the RM Sotheby’s and the MacNeil GTOs are at the top of the pecking order of the 36 3-liter GTOs built. Unlike 3851GT, they both have first-rate pedigrees.

There is a logic behind the lofty prices of GTOs. The first is its superior drivability when compared with its contemporaries. I spoke with longtime SCMer Chip Connor soon after his purchase of chassis 4293GT. I asked him how it compared with his SWB.

“It’s simply a different world,” he replied. “It feels lighter and more nimble. It’s a delight to drive.”

The second is that ownership provides entrée into a very exclusive world. It started with a GTO tour presented by Moët & Chandon in 1987. Since then, GTO owners are invited to similarly exclusive events. Reports have circulated about the richest of the rich having their brokers work overtime to find them a GTO in time to be invited to these most exclusive of all collector-car soirées.

Just like courtside seats at an NBA final or front-row tickets to a Beyoncé concert, admission to exclusive events has always been “market priced.” This August, we’ll see what admission to the GTO world costs these days.

In the end, the price that 3413GT brings won’t change much of the collector-car market. If it brings $50 million, $60 million or more, it will make it easier to justify spending another $10 million on an SWB, TdF or Cal Spyder. It will also let us see if the price for 4153GT was a new indicator of the GTO market — or perhaps slightly exuberant.

But the value of your 308 GTS is unlikely to jump because of this sale.

Like you, we will be watching the sale of 3413GT with interest.

Come to our reception in Monterey

Monterey Car Week, August 20–26, is the Super Bowl of the collector-car world. I’ve been attending for 31 years.

Most of the SCM staff and contributors are there, and this year you will have a chance to meet them.

On Friday, August 24, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., we are hosting a reception at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It will feature photography by Jesse Alexander. Our co-hosts include the Revs Institute, Turtle Garage and Putnam Leasing. It’s open to subscribers only. However, space is limited, and an RSVP by August 1 to susan.loeb@sportscarmarket.com is required. Please put Jesse Alexander SCM Reception in the subject line.

In addition, SCM is pleased to announce that it will support Gordon McCall’s 2018 Motorworks Revival, held on Wednesday, August 22, at the Monterey Jet Center. We are creating a “Collector’s Edition” of this issue with a bespoke cover celebrating the 27 years of the event. I will be at our booth there, so stop by and visit.

For the 17th consecutive year, SCM will host its Insider’s Seminar at the Gooding Auction tent. It will take place on Friday, August 24, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. See p. 225 for more details.

There is still limited space in our “behind-the-scenes Insider’s Tours,” where analyst Andy Reid takes subscribers on private tours of cars being offered at auction. Visit www.sportscarmarket.com/2018tour for more information and to sign up.

I return to Concorso Italiano as emcee. SCM is sponsoring the celebration of Alfa Romeo 4-door sedans this year, and we will have a booth there as well.

As SCM embarks on its fourth decade, we can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our affection for old cars and the people around them than by chatting with you on the Monterey Peninsula. ♦

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