|Vehicle:||1964 Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso by Scaglietti|
|Original List Price:||$13,375|
|Tune Up Cost:||$3,000|
|Distributor Caps:||$200 for a reproduction. Two are required|
|Chassis Number Location:||Stamped on the passenger’s side frame rail next to the engine|
|Engine Number Location:||Stamped on a flange on the rear passenger’s side of block|
|Club Info:||Ferrari Club of America|
|Alternatives:||1954–57 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing, 1964 Maserati 5000 GT coupe, 1967 Jaguar E-type 4.2 coupe|
This car, Lot 159, sold for $1,598,789, including buyer’s premium, at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction in Cernobbio, Italy, on May 27, 2017.
One of the bookcases in my office is packed top to bottom with decades of old Road & Track magazines. As with many of you, R&T was my introduction to the cars you see on SCM’s pages today.
The cover shots and accompanying articles were about as close as many of us would get to the real cars, but after reading the articles and studying the specs, we were experts in the field of exotic sports cars.
I still subscribe to printed Road & Track — yes, I have an AOL address, too — and recently received their 70th anniversary issue.
There were several good articles, but it was the “Road Test Summary” that really got my attention. R&T traditionally had a page that summarized the performance specs of their recent Road Tests. The summary made it easy to compare performance, such as which car stopped in the shortest distance, which one handled best — and most importantly — which one was fastest.
The 70th Anniversary Summary added a twist. Mixed with the contemporary tests were some vintage tests. The Ferrari 250 Lusso was one of the feature comparisons.
The first thing that stood out in the summary was that “fast” must be judged in the context of time. The Lusso was certainly fast for its era, but its 0–60 mph time is only slightly better than a new Ford Focus — and is not as good as the V6 Chrysler 200 that I recently rented.
The Lusso, however, can keep accelerating to an impressive 150 mph. The Ford and Chrysler both top out around 120 mph — either by the limits of the car or an electronic limit.
In context of its time, the Lusso was no slouch. Few contemporaries of the Lusso were substantially faster, but it must be remembered that performance wasn’t the Lusso’s primary goal.
Ferrari had other models designed to beat down the competition. “Lusso” means luxury in Italian, and luxurious Grand Touring is where the Lusso shines brightest.
My friend — and guru of all things on wheels — Ken Gross said it best in a 1987 Road & Track retrospective on the Lusso: “All movement ceased (when a Lusso pulled on a concours field) and everyone turned to stare. It was as though Sophia Loren in a bright red cocktail dress had just walked provocatively through a garden party of English schoolgirls.”
That about wraps up a Lusso; it can play with the kids, but it’s the adult in the room.
Lussos cost just over $13,000 when they were new in 1964. Not many years later, you could buy one for maybe half that. R&T’s 1987 Lusso retrospective quotes classic-car dealer Marc Tauber saying, “There’s more interest in Lussos today at $80,000 to $90,000 than there was just a year or so ago when you could buy a good one in the low forties.”
Those were the good old days.
2007 saw lightning strike the Lusso market. A metallic brown Lusso that was formerly owned by Steve McQueen and expertly restored by Mike Regalia came to auction amid much fanfare.
The world’s best Lusso probably wouldn’t have broken $500,000 at the time. The auction company put an $800,000 to $1,200,000 estimate on McQueen’s car. The hammer fell at a stratospheric $2,310,000.
The McQueen sale didn’t immediately change the Lusso market, but it gave sellers a target to work towards.
Around 2012, the Ferrari market surged and Lussos rode the crest.
SCM’s Platinum Auction Database shows an average price of $1,200,000 in 2013, nearly double the 2012 average, and that was just the start. 2014 saw an average SCM Platinum Database price of $2,300,000 — an astounding gain of a million dollars in just one year.
A drop — and another rise
Sir Isaac Newton is generally credited as saying, “What goes up must come down.”
I’m not qualified to debate the accuracy of the attribution or the physics of the law, but the Lusso market followed the principle.
It is nearly impossible to sustain the type of growth the Lusso market had in 2014. By 2015, SCM’s Platinum Database showed the average Lusso sale dropped to a little over $1,700,000.
A half-million-dollar drop could have put the Lusso market in free fall, but it didn’t. A few 2015–16 offerings were no-sales, with bids in the $1,500,000 range, but a few good sales nudged the 2016 SCM average up slightly to $1,763,000.
Not enough history and too much brown
Our subject Lusso might have sold a little light, but RM Sotheby’s didn’t have a lot to work with.
The known history was favorable, but there wasn’t much of it. The catalog description was as brief as I can recall for a million-dollar-plus car.
The Lusso looked good in the pictures. Reading between the lines, the car was not a preservation candidate or a show car. It appears that the restoration was over 30 years old.
Brown might have been gold for Steve McQueen’s Lusso, but this wasn’t McQueen’s car. Brown isn’t for everyone, and I suspect the color dampened some spirits.
At the end of the day the lust factor was missing from chassis 5686.
There was nothing that made buyers clamor to buy the car. The seller got a little less than expected, and the buyer got a bit of a deal.
The Lusso market’s still sound — and ready for the next round. ♦
(Introductory description courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.)