The 2014 classic car auctions are in the history books — and most of the pages of those books have been rewritten. For the majority of the auction companies, these are the best of times. The only question that remains is the obvious one: Can 2015 be even better?
The records broken in 2014 include the most cars sold exceeding $1 million, the most cars offered with estimates exceeding $1 million, and the most multimillion-dollar cars sold. Auction sales totals eclipsed 2013’s $1.2 billion. Interestingly, a slightly smaller number of cars crossed the auction block, meaning those that did sell, in aggregate, brought more money.
Can the magic happen again in 2015? That’s the subject of some hot debate right now. In the meantime, if you have a spare 1960s Ferrari hanging around, the auction companies would like to talk with you about an upcoming sale they are holding. So without further delay, let’s dive into the 10 most expensive cars (mostly Ferraris) sold at auction this year.
1. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – $38,115,000 (Bonhams, Monterey)
The Ferrari 250 GTO is an extremely sought-after car, but when this example sold earlier this summer at the Quail Lodge in Monterey, California, it set a new world record. Although $38 million sounds like an extreme sum to pay for any car at auction, the figure was actually lower than the auction company’s initial estimate of $50 million. Why the exorbitant price? Ferrari only ever built 39 units of the 250 GTO, a racing homologation special, and the cars very rarely change hands in public auctions.
2. 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale – $26,400,000 (RM, Monterey)
Although this Ferrari might have been overshadowed by the record-breaking 250 GTO at this year’s Monterey auctions, the 275 GTB/C Speciale is quite a rare bird on its own. As a roadgoing version of the 275 race car that placed third overall at the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans, this gray coupe carries quite a motorsports pedigree and is one of only three GTB/C Speciale Berlinetta Competizione cars produced for homologation regulations. It’s powered by a 3.3-liter V-12 engine with 320 hp through a five-speed manual gearbox, and the high price paid for this car is no surprise given its pristine condition and extreme rarity.
3. 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione – $18,400,177 (Bonhams, Goodwood)
This factory-backed racing car competed in many Italian races with power from a 4.9-liter V-12 It was subsequently sold to an American racer who used it in SCCA club racing for several years before the car fell into disrepair for many years. Eventually it was fully restored in Italy, and the body was reunited with its original engine — for some undisclosed reason, the two had been separated at some time. Before that, though, the car was so successful in European racing that the French reportedly nicknamed it “Le Monstre” while British teams called it “The Fearsome Four-Nine.” The tremendous sale price reflects the car’s extensive restoration, its racing history, and the fact that the sale included a long list of spare parts, including an extra rebuilt engine.
4. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider – $15,180,000 (Gooding & Company, Pebble Beach)
Perhaps best known as the diaper-rubbed classic from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider is one of the most celebrated models in the brand’s history. This example is one of 37 examples built with covered headlights, and it also includes a removable hardtop. Under the hood is Ferrari’s 3.0-liter V-12, good for 240 hp and mated to a four-speed manual gearbox. It sold just north of the estimated range between $13 million and $15 million.
5. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM – $11,550,000 (RM, Monterey)
The 19th of 32 vehicles produced, this car was among the few Ferrari 250 Le Mans to end up in the hands of a private owner, after a 1965 250 LM became the last Ferrari to ever win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1969, by then in the care of a second owner, the car would win second place in its class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Less than a month later, it would be crashed and set aflame in an accident on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. After its engine was sold, the 250 LM would not be reunited with its 320-hp, 3.3-liter V-12 until 2011.
6. 1967 Ferrari GTB/4 – $10,175,000 (RM, Monterey)
The only thing cooler than a 300-hp, V-12-powered 1967 Ferrari GTB/4 is such a 1967 Ferrari GTB/4 owned by Hollywood motoring legend Steve McQueen. Not impressed? The car was delivered new to McQueen on the set while filming “Bullitt.” Back then it wasn’t painted its current Chianti Red; it was a metallic gold that wasn’t to McQueen’s liking.
7. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder – $8,800,000 (RM, Scottsdale)
Complete with factory-installed covered headlamps, this long-wheelbase California Spyder is the 11th of 50 examples ever to emerge from Maranello. Aside from its stunning beauty and superb condition, this California Spyder includes a well-documented provenance from its various owners that contains both correspondence and service records from an engine rebuild. Slightly down on power compared to the later California Spyders, chassis no. 1055 GT yields 223 hp from its 3.0-liter V-12 and triple Weber carburetors.
8. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C – $7,860,283 (RM, Monaco)
Benefitting from relatively gentle racing use during its early years, the value of this GTB/C is in its originality. It was awarded Ferrari Classiche certification in recognition of its mechanical originality, and it even underwent a full service. As one of just 12 models ever built, the 275 GTB Competizione rides on a lighter, stronger chassis compared to the standard 275, also featuring reinforced wheel hubs. It boasts a 275-hp, 3.3-liter dry-sump V-12 engine with three Weber carburetors and five-speed transaxle gearbox, which has seen this gorgeous example through recent and frequent use in vintage rallies and tours.
9. 1953 Ferrari 250 MM Berlinetta – $7,860,283 (Bonhams, Monterey)
Many regard the 250 Mille Miglia Berlinetta as the defining example of Pinin Farina’s Berlinetta design. Complete with American blue-and-white livery befitting of its racing record in the United States, this 250 MM was featured prominently on the cover of the July 1965 issue of Road & Track. But by 1986 it would return to Italy, where it would go on to appear in the annual round-Italy Mille Miglia (meaning thousand mile) event for years to come. All the while, this iconic Ferrari would be restored, maintained, and cared for by owner Fabrizio Violati’s Collectione Maranello Rosso.
10. 1964 Ford GT40 Prototype – $7,000,000 (Mecum, Houston)
One of these things is not like the others, but that makes it no less spectacular and worthy of its place on this list. The fourth GT40 prototype built (chassis no. GT/104), this inimitable American racer was the first to use lighter chassis steel. It was promptly shipped to France for competition in the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it would eclipse the 200-mph mark but later catch fire in the fourth hour of the race. After being repaired back in the States, it would become one of just two examples to be modified and raced by Shelby for the 1965 season. Packing a 350-hp, 4.7-liter (289 cubic-inch.) Shelby V-8 engine, it stands as the second-oldest extant GT40 in the world.