©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
A1964 Targa Florio class winner, chassis 3413 was just the third production Ferrari 250 GTO built. A fierce competitor, it racked up 15 overall and class victories between 1962 and 1965 including two Targa Florio class wins. After retirement from serious competition, chassis 3413 passed through the hands of several enthusiast owners who continued to exercise the car in numerous vintage events. Examples of the 250 GTO are very rarely offered for sale. Chassis 3413 is now available for the first time in over 18 years. The car and all its numbers-matching components (engine block, gearbox and rear axle) are included with the car’s sale. The original engine block has been removed for preservation, and the car is currently fitted with a 250 GT engine block built to GTO specification.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
Years Produced:1962–64
Number Produced:39
SCM Valuation:$43.2 million
Tune Up Cost:$3,500
Distributor Caps:$500 each
Chassis Number Location:Left frame member by steering box
Engine Number Location:Right rear above motor mount
Club Info:Ferrari Club of America
Alternatives:1962 Jaguar E-type Lightweight, 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 short chassis, 1963 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 246, sold for $48,405,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Monterey Auction on August 25, 2018.

Few series of cars are as diverse as the Ferrari 250 GTO.

Ferrari recognizes 39 cars in the series. Three of the 39 were built with 4-liter engines. Three were scratch built with Series II bodywork. One was built with 330 LMB-style bodywork. Four of the Series I cars were rebodied by the original coachbuilder to Series II style. One was rebodied by Drogo in a totally unique configuration. New builds received improvements learned while racing earlier editions.

Even among the similar cars, there is diversity.

The Ferrari GTO’s success came from incremental improvements rather than radical engineering. The 250 SWB was a bit aged but still winning races when the GTO was developed. The SWB’s chassis was deemed sufficient for the GTO project, and with a few updates, it met the task. The 250 Testa Rossa engine had been designed to perfection. It was borrowed for the GTO, and with minor updates, also was up to the task.

The Ferrari factory team did not race GTOs. Well-heeled weekend racers and professional teams took these cars out on the track.

This is hard to understand in today’s world of 500-horsepower sedans, but Enzo Ferrari was seriously concerned that the GTO was too powerful for his clients. In the era, few drivers had experienced the kind of performance a 300-horsepower GTO could deliver. Selling a car that might kill its driver was a huge responsibility, and Enzo Ferrari didn’t take the task lightly.

You could not just order a GTO from your Ferrari dealer. The cars were only sold to known racers — and only if they were going to race the car. There were more prospects than cars.

From the beginning, GTOs were highly sought after.

The story behind the Series II GTO

Ferrari had developed the 250 LM in the early 1960s to beat back the competition, but the FIA was not buying the LM as a production car and held up its approval.

Using the profile of the LM as a template, Ferrari decided to update the GTO’s bodywork for the 1964 season. The GTO 64, or Series II GTO, featured little in the way of mechanical improvements, but the new bodywork was thought to be an aerodynamic breakthrough.

As it turned out, the Series II cars were no faster than the first Series I cars. Some reports said they were slower. Tweaks were made to the roof and rear spoiler in hopes of improvement, but the Series II cars were not the breakthrough the factory envisioned.

Why did one GTO sell for so much more?

Four years ago, Bonhams sold a Ferrari 250 GTO for $38 million at their Quail Lodge Auction. The sale set the record for the most-expensive automobile to sell at auction. Bonhams’ accomplishment was big news.

This RM Sotheby’s sale of our subject GTO upped the record for the most expensive automobile sold at auction by an astonishing $10 million, but the sale was anticlimactic to many.

Earlier this year, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO chassis 4153 sold in the $70 million range (September 2018, “Collecting Thoughts,” p. 72). This sale amount dwarfs the RM Sotheby’s $48 million sale by so much that the RM Sotheby’s car legitimately needs an asterisk to explain it is far from the highest sale of an automobile.

That is an unfortunate tag to put on the exceptional sale of an exceptional car. Still, every Ferrari 250 GTO is special — and very, very valuable.

RM Sotheby’s 250 GTO chassis 3413 had a highly successful career, including a first in class in the 1963 and 1964 Targa Florios.

Chassis 4153 also had a great career with an outright win of the Tour de France and a 4th at Le Mans. Neither car was in a serious accident and both have their original engines.

The separating factor is their bodywork.

A Series II body is less valuable

Chassis 4153 wears its original Series I body, while chassis 3413 was one of the four Series I GTOs rebodied in the style of a Series II GTO. The work was done with the approval of Ferrari in the same shop that built chassis 3413’s original body. This is also the shop Ferrari commissioned to build their Series II cars.

While only seven GTOs feature the Series II bodies, rarity does not make them more valuable. Many people feel the notchback roofline is not as attractive as the original fastback design. The Series II lines are not as classic. The fact that the Series II body wasn’t an improvement on the track doesn’t help its desirability.

Hitting the price target

The final sale price on chassis 3413 was right where it should have been. The last GTO to sell at auction went in the $38 million range. It was a Series I car — but with a less-desirable history. Factoring in some appreciation, the 2014 Bonhams car should be worth in the $40 million range today.

A U.K. dealer was offering a Series I GTO earlier this year in the $58 million range. The car is no longer displayed on his website, but there’ve been no rumors of it selling. So $48 million for chassis 3413 looks like a fair number.

The offering of chassis 3413 was a bit unexpected. The seller is a software executive who used the heck out of the car. He has a nice collection of important Ferraris, and it’s a bit surprising that he’d part with the centerpiece.

The reported buyer has been picking up star cars for years. Among the GTO’s new garage mates will be a Corvette Grand Sport, the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 and a special Duesenberg race car. Money aside, it was a sad day for the seller and a glorious one for the buyer. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)

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