This car, Lot 214, sold for $784,392, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s London Auction on October 26, 2011.
There was a time when vintage Ferraris weren’t the highly sought-after commodity that they are today. Contrary to the perception that all early Ferraris are virgins that have never been driven uphill or in the rain, many of today’s multimillion-dollar stars were once just clapped-out race cars or used-up street cars. Rotted-out bodies and severely smoking engines were once commonplace, and yes, some vintage Ferraris have actually been in accidents.
Not that many years ago, many older Ferraris needed more repairs than they were worth. Fortunately for the marque, early Ferrari enthusiasts, such as Dick Merritt on the East Coast and Ed Niles in California, saw value in old Ferraris. They tracked down Ferraris around the country and passed them to new owners — some who barely knew what they were buying, as they had never seen a Ferrari other than pictures in a magazine.
Merritt also tracked down missing engines, squirreled away parts, wrote books on the marque and helped found the Ferrari Club of America. Dick’s work, along with that of his friends, laid the foundation of today’s Ferrari hobby.
Deciphering restoration costs
RM’s write-up of 5167GT, like most auction descriptions, references the restorers of the car. Most of the early Ferraris have been refurbished — if not fully restored. A quality paint job today starts around $10,000. A Pebble-Beach-quality restoration of an old Ferrari can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. When looking at old Ferraris, the details of the restoration should never be overlooked.
Sellers love to brag about the time and money they spent on a restoration, but neither time nor money guarantees a good job. Overly long restorations are usually due to the customer’s inability to pay — or an inexperienced shop getting in over their head. Extremely expensive restorations are often the result of poor planning or the condition of the subject car. The location of the restoration is not a guarantee of quality. “Restored in Detroit” doesn’t make a Mustang any better than one restored in Portland, OR. Likewise, a Ferrari restored in Modena may not be any better than one restored in Brazil.
Proven restoration shops become brands. A Fran Roxas Duesenberg, a Gary Bobileff Miura or a Paul Russell anything says more about a restoration than any reference to time or money. Sellers tend to embellish the thoroughness of a restoration. Restoration shops do everything from accident repair to full restoration. Just because the shop made a car shiny doesn’t mean they made it run. You can’t repair a smoking engine by painting it. It’s a good idea to examine the restoration bills to see what was really done.
It’s interesting that the subject Lusso notes work done at three facilities — but names only one. Selleria Luppi of Modena has a long history of doing Ferrari interior work. You can be sure any work Luppi did is top quality. As for the other work, a close inspection is warranted.
A hot market for twelve cylinders
August 16, 2007, is a holy day for Lusso owners. That’s the day a chestnut brown 1963 Ferrari Lusso once belonging to Steve McQueen sold for $2,310,000 at Christie’s Monterey Jet Center auction. Optimism abounded among owners that their half-million-dollar Lusso would soon command that same kind of money. While a nod has to be given to the exceptional restoration of the McQueen Lusso, the lottery winnings came from the former owner’s celebrity rather than the car’s real value.
SCM’s Platinum Auction Database documents Lusso sales from a low of $632,000 to a high of $907,000 in 2011. RM estimated our subject Lusso at $635,000 to $765,000. The $775,150 sale price was just over the top estimate — but not out of line with today’s values.
Front-engine, 12-cylinder Ferraris are hot. There are few on the market, and those that are offered are priced just more than the last one sold for. The seller had no reason to complain about his sale, and the buyer should be pleased with a great car and a good investment.