Spending more than $40 million for a used 56-year old car is totally absurd. But it wouldn’t be weird at all if that car is a Ferrari 250 GTO that was driven by Phil Hill, the only American-born driver who has a Formula 1 crown. Just recently, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO was sold at $48,405,000 at RM Sotheby’s auction sale in Monterey, California.
The auction started when the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO -- – with the chassis number 3413 GT -- was driven on the stage by Derek Bell, himself a legend for winning the Le Mans 24 Hours five times. The sale was conducted by auctioneer Maarten ten Holder, who started the bidding at $35 million. The bid price quickly jumped to $40 million, and then slowly climbed itself up -- with increments of $250,000. When the bid price reached $44 million, nobody dared to top the amount, and the hammer was banged.
Final bid price for the 3413 GTO was $44 million, but the addition of buyer’s fee and other taxes pushed the total price to $48.4 million. It was sold to a major car collector based in the United States. The seller was former chief software architect at Microsoft, Greg Whitten, who is also known for being a Ferrari enthusiast and vintage car driver. Whitten had been the owner of the 3413 GTO since 2000. He has shown it at a number of vintage motorsport events, including four GTO anniversary tours.
The Ferrari 250 GTO was a factory conversion of Ferrari's Testa Rossa 250 open sports racer into a closed GT coupe racer. It was produced between 1962 and 1964, and was homologated into the FIA's Group 3 Grand Touring Car category. The "250" in its name refers to the displacement (in cubic centimeters) of each of the cylinders of its Tipo 168/62 V12 engine. The "GTO" meanwhile stands for "Gran Turismo Omologata," an Italian term that mean "Grand Touring Homologated."
Ferrari built just 36 units of the 250 GTO: 33 Series I cars with 1962-63 bodywork and three Series 2 units with 1964. Four of the older Series I cars were updated in 1964 with Series II bodies.
The 3413 GTO sold in the recent RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale was the third unit built by Ferrari. It was initially used a test car by Ferrari, and was driven by F1 champ Hill in the 1962 Targa Florio. That year, Ferrari sold the 250 GTO to regular Ferrari privateer customer Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi, who won nine of 10 races that season.
In 1963, Lualdi-Gabardi sold the 3413 GTO to Gianni Bulgari, who managed to drive the car to class wins at the 1963 and 1964 Targa Florio. In total, the 3413 GTO GTO took part and finished 20 races, without any incident.
In 1964, the 3413 GTO was one of the four 250 GTO models which were updated with Series II body by Carrozzeria Scaglietti. Through the years, the 3413 GTO changed hands until it ended up in the hands of Whitten. Even after more than 50 years of existence, this 3413 GTO managed to retain its original engine, gearbox and rear axle.
With the final sale price, the 3413 GTO now holds the record as the most expensive car sold at an auction. However, the $48.4 million price of the 3413 GTO pales in comparison with the sale price of a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO with chassis number 4153. The 4153 GTO change hands in a private sale for a price of $70 million. It was sold to Ferrari collector and WeatherTech chief executive David MacNeil in June 2018.