The 250 engine paved the way for a large family of cars that helped Ferrari expand their limited output into series-produced sports cars. The new range was based on the 3-liter V12 engine designed by Gioacchino Colombo. The engine was powerful, smooth and adaptable to both touring and racing. The trend continued with the arrival of the Cabriolet 250 GT PF in 1957 — the last two letters standing for Pinin Farina (then still written as two words), who oversaw the design and the manufacture of the coachwork At the 1959 Paris Motor Show, Ferrari presented the Cabriolet 250 GT Series II. The appeal of its sophisticated mechanics was complemented by the relaxed pleasure of driving with the top down. This cabriolet was one of the most glamorous models of the 1960s — if not in the history of car-making. The current owner of 3499GT used to take his Alfa Romeo 1750 Coupé Bertone for servicing at Garage André in Marseille. Mr. Paulet, the original owner of 3499GT, used to bring the Ferrari to the same garage and it was here that the two men met. Mr. Paulet was so impressed by the young man’s passion that he promised him first refusal if he ever decided to sell. Five years later, Madame Paulet called to fulfill her late husband’s wishes. Our enthusiast had no hesitation in selling his Alfa Romeo and with the proceeds, plus another 500,000 French francs, secured the Ferrari. The car is in an unheard-of original state: Everything — down to the screws — is in virtually original condition. The owner guarantees that the Ferrari’s mileage is indeed 15,000 km (9,320 miles). The car is equipped with its very rare hard top and original Ferrari leather wallet. In its original gray livery, its leather granted a handsome patina by time, it resembles a Sleeping Beauty that has just awoken from a lengthy slumber. To have survived for nearly 50 years in this condition is almost miraculous. This cabriolet must be one of the most authentic and original currently known.

SCM Analysis


This car, Lot 310, sold to a longtime SCMer for $1,131,456, including buyer’s premium, at Artcurial’s Paris auction on February 6, 2013.

Followers of the Ferrari Profile know there has been a huge upward movement in the values of top-end Ferraris for the past few years. The 250 models are at the front of the pack.

I should have anticipated that the 250 Cab would be the next to blast off, but I didn’t. These cars aren’t race cars or a close derivative. The nicest one on the planet would be hard pressed to draw much attention at a major concours. The major redeeming feature of a Series II Cab has long been that it was the least-expensive Classic Era open Ferrari. The idea that one could be a million-dollar car never crossed my mind.

There are fewer than 1,000 Classic Era open-top Ferraris and they are the blue-chip investment of the Ferrari world. The 250 Cabs might be on the bottom rung of the open-top ladder, but the ladder reaches the sky.

The sale price of 3499GT certainly was unprecedented, but the questions it poses may be of even more significance: Is this sale an aberration in the market or is it an early marker for the future of 250 GT Cabriolets? Even more significant, has the Series II Cab moved up the ladder?

Daytona Spyder money

The sale of 3499GT is more than any 275 GTS has sold for and probably more than any 330 GTS. You could definitely buy a nice Daytona Spyder for this money, so are we seeing auction magic — or is there a new order?

Only time will answer those questions, but I can offer some interesting insight. The more expensive the car, the less important the price is to the buyer. The vast majority of the population hears the price of a new Ferrari and thinks, “That’s more than my house.” On the other hand, it’s quite likely that a person buying a new Ferrari has a second home that’s worth more than the car.

If your first thought on 3499GT was that a person could have a Daytona Spyder or 330 GTS for what they paid for this Cab, you need to adjust your thinking. Rolls-Royce used to say their competition was a second home or a yacht. This is a step beyond. This is the Monopoly Money Zone. Buyers here can afford the second home, the yacht and the car. Someone who buys a million-dollar 250 Cab already has a Daytona Spyder — if they wanted one. They probably have a 330 GTS and a few others too. Buyers in this range don’t miss things they want over money.

Oozing originality

3499GT had a lot going for it. It was unique in its history and its condition.

Originality is the current buzzword of the collector community, and 3499GT oozes originality. Then add that it was a red-hot 250 Ferrari. There are more 250 Ferraris in the million-dollar club than out of it. The same goes for open-top Classic Era Ferraris.

I don’t think the record result was a case of auction fever. Newcomers want shiny cars in turn-key condition. I suspect a preservationist bought this car. Originality has long been a goal of the collector-car community, and preservation is the new focus. Preservation is the goal of many seasoned collectors. It involves finding worthy cars and preserving them with the minimum amount of restoration.

There’s a thin line between tatty and cool — and it often depends on who’s driving the car. If the driver can’t afford to restore the car, then it’s tatty. If he can, then it’s cool. As the Preservation movement catches on, there will be more attention on the virtues of the car than its defects. The skill of a preservationist may soon trump the deep-pocketbook restorations of today’s collector.

Big money for a reason

3499GT ticked many boxes and was rewarded with a blue ribbon result. While I’m astounded with the number, I’m not surprised. My memory is too full of images of lumpy old 250 Cabs to accept them as million-dollar cars. Fortunately, the buyer was more objective. The bid was well over market, but I think the buyer knew what he was doing.

Great cars like 3499GT don’t come up often, and it was the one to stretch for. The seller definitely came out on top — but not as much as the numbers may indicate. It will take a very special Series II Cab to make a million dollars again, but the door is open and more will enter. ?

(Introductory description courtesy of Artcurial.)

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