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.
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.)