In the tradition of Ferrari’s dual-purpose road and racing berlinettas, the new 250 GT SWB was a tractable and well-mannered daily driver about town — and a veritable beast in a race. Competition-specification cars with additionally up-rated engines and lightweight alloy aluminum bodies were immediately made available for racing customers.

Competizione-specification examples totaled to 72 alloy-bodied examples among the overall output of just 165 SWB cars. It is a credit to the SWB’s strength of design, durability and no-hassle ergonomics that the model was a daily-use driver for many owners. More recently, collectors have truly begun to prize the SWB’s subtle Pininfarina lines and its legitimate competition pedigree.

According to the research of noted marque authority Marcel Massini, this example features alloy coachwork and a race-tuned engine. It’s among the most well-documented SWB examples, having been owned by just four caretakers from new. It has enjoyed attention from some of the Ferrari world’s most respected historians and craftsmen, including Charles Betz and Fred Peters, Brian Hoyt’s Perfect Reflections, and Wayne Obry’s renowned Motion Products. It also received concours preparation from René Wagner’s Garage Fast Line.

The SWB’s unanimous acclaim was sealed with a feature article in the August 2011 issue of Cavallino magazine, a pinnacle of recognition by any measure.

Sometimes cars are described for sales purposes as “race-ready”; most of the time this is not the case, but not with this car. The only thing that may be required would be adjustments for personal driving preferences.

It is a well-documented and thoroughly exceptional iteration of one of the marque’s most prized berlinettas that should prove irresistible to any serious Ferrari collector, promising thrilling performance and future exhibition acclaim.

SCM Analysis


Number Produced:165 (all variations)
Original List Price:$13,500
Tune Up Cost:$3,000
Chassis Number Location:Left frame member by steering box
Engine Number Location:Right rear above motor mount
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America, Ferrari Owners Club

This car, Lot 164, sold for $8,140,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s Arizona auction on January 18, 2013.

In the collector-car world there is no series of cars more desirable than the Ferrari 250 GTs. The highest known automobile sale ever was the sale of a Ferrari 250 GTO for $35,000,000. A couple of other 250 models will sell for more than $10,000,000, with a few more in the over-$5,000,000 range. At least a dozen different 250 models are firmly in the million-dollar club — more than any other automobile series.

The 250 series Ferraris are the true heart of the Ferrari legend. 250 Ferraris dominated sports car racing around the globe in the 1950s and early 1960s. The racing success enabled Ferrari to build an international network of distributors to sell Ferrari production and race cars. The Ferraris from this era are the most coveted of all Ferraris, and the 250 SWB sits near the top of the pyramid.

There is a definite hierarchy in the 250 SWB market. The low end starts with steel-body street cars. These are sometimes called Lussos — for their luxury trim. A 250 GT SWB Lusso is not the same car as the well-known 250 GT Lusso. There is also a competition version of the car and a few known as SEFAC hot rods, which are specially prepared Factory team racers. SWBs may be steel or alloy, and they may have special-order features, such as competition gas fillers on a street car. The value of a SWB will vary dramatically based on the configuration of the car — as well as provenance and completion history.

A feeding frenzy

“Astounding” is the only word that can begin to describe the feverish activity and huge money the high-end Ferrari market is generating. The $8,140,000 sale of 1905GT was a big event — but not unexpected by those who follow high-end Ferraris.

During the past three months, big-dollar sales of four 250 LMs and four 250 Tour de Frances have transpired, with even more activity in 250 SWBs. In October 2012, a U.K. dealer sold a 250 SWB for around $5,500,000. In November 2012, the same dealer sold another SWB for another huge sum. In December 2012, there was a run on SWBs, with five changing hands. One December buyer was reportedly offered a $2m profit the next day, and one sale reportedly topped $10,000,000.

In the past, when there has been a run on Ferraris, I would get calls from owners asking if they should sell their car. As I don’t have a crystal ball, I always answer: “If the money will make a significant difference in your life, you should consider selling. If it won’t make a difference, and you still like the car, keep it.” At current price levels, it’s a different game. For many longtime owners, the money is life-changing. They may not need it to pay off the house, but it will guarantee a comfortable retirement — or make sure there’s money for the kids.

Pay-to-play cuts both ways

Selling an old friend isn’t easy. The anxiety of wondering whether the car will be worth even more next year is always a consideration, but there’s often a practical reason that helps make the decision.

The care and feeding of a valuable Ferrari grows with the value of the car. Thirty years ago, an engineer living modestly might have been able to buy a 250 SWB. The insurance cost was incidental when the car was worth $100,000 and owners were in their peak earning years. Thirty years later, when the owner is retired and the premium for their multi-million-dollar Ferrari comes out of savings, the insurance is a significant matter.

Service and restoration costs also go up with the value of the car. Getting top dollar requires top condition. The local Foreign Car Service doesn’t understand the preservation of old hose clamps, nor does the local upholsterer realize that the wrong stitch length equals an interior that has to be redone for show. High-end buyers like to see “brand” names associated with maintenance. Having a recognized Ferrari specialist on the service history of a multi-million-dollar Ferrari often returns a premium price, but that service may now come at a cost that a retired dentist may not be able to afford.

A good deal for everyone

1905GT is an old friend. I first saw it at the 2002 Ferrari Club of America Meet and have seen it on the show circuit several times since. It has been seen at almost every major event from Pebble Beach to Villa d’Este. Some of the best in the business have kept the car in top shape. It is often a contender for Best of Show, but a slightly more exotic car usually noses it aside for the award.

This spectacular Ferrari did its job. It filled seats for RM and brought a price that wowed the masses. It reportedly sold to a collector who has been the top bidder on many high-worth Ferraris over the past couple of years. 1905GT was a great car that sold at a big number. The buyer paid a fair amount. But even at this stratospheric price, both parties should be happy. ?

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Auctions.)

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