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Ferrari 250 GTO heading to The Quail with no reserve

Fri, 04 Jul 2014

It's not every day that a Ferrari 250 GTO changes hands. It is, after all, one of the most highly coveted cars ever made, and there were only 39 of them built in the first place. So when one goes up for sale, it tends to fetch millions. Tens of millions, actually, and the prices keep escalating.

Throughout most of the 1980s they were trading hands for six figures. In 1989 one sold for $10 million. A few months later, $13 million. Prices fluctuated in the 90s, but by 2012, one sold for a whopping $35 million, eclipsed the following year at $52 million. Nobody knows what the next one will sell for, but we're about to find out.

That's because Bonhams has got one consigned for its upcoming auction at the Quail Lodge during Monterey weekend next month. And it's offering it without reserve, meaning that it could sell for the opening bid (however unlikely), it could break the previous record or it could land anywhere in between or beyond.

The example in question is chassis No. 3851 GT, the 19th example, completed on September 11, 1962. The Ferrari was delivered new to French racer Jo Schlesser (who would be killed in an experimental Honda F1 car six years later at the French Grand Prix). It subsequently crashed at the Montlhéry Autodrome, was fully repaired at the factory and returned to competition the following year, trading hands once more before a young Fabrizio Violati saved it from the crusher in 1965. He owned it and kept it as part of his celebrated Maranello Rosso Collection right up until his passing in 2010, and four years later, his family is putting it up for auction – making this the longest single-owner GTO in existence, which ought only to contribute to its value.

15 Aug 2014, Quail Lodge Auction

Hot on the heels of the Bonhams Motor Car Department selling £24-million-worth of mouth-watering machines at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the company announces 'Ten Important Motor Cars from the Maranello Rosso Collection', to be sold at its annual Quail Lodge auction on the Monterey Peninsula, California, in August.

The Sale will be headed by the world's longest single-ownership Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta – which has effectively been in one family's care for no fewer than 49 years from 1965-2014. The car is to be offered for sale by auction AT NO RESERVE on August 14-15.

The enduringly gorgeous 250 GTO's appeal is its rumbustious renown as a GT World Championship-winning road racer, as startlingly streamlined winner of the fantastic multi-day Tour de France Automobile, and yet also as a perfectly civilized and road-useable shopping car. The 250 GTO is the most coveted jewel in the classic car world's crown, a beauty in which an owner can show his prowess on track one day, and then go touring beside a comfortably seated companion the next.

The Maranello Rosso Collection car, chassis number '3851 GT', was the 19th 250 GTO Berlinetta built, completed new on September 11, 1962. It was delivered to the leading French racing driver Jo Schlesser, to be co-driven by himself and French ski Champion Henri Oreiller in the 1962 Tour de France. The pair challenged for victory and finished an honorable second overall. The car was then crashed during a race at Montlhery Autodrome, just south of Paris, France. It was repaired immediately by Ferrari in Italy and was sold to gentleman driver Paolo Colombo in time for the 1963 competition season.

At the time of '3851 GT's re-emergence the latter half of Ferrari 250 GTO production was still in full swing at Maranello and in the Scaglietti body plant in Modena. Paolo Colombo enjoyed a very successful season in 'against-the-clock' Italian national mountain-climb events, before selling it to Ernesto Prinoth for 1964. He then used the car widely in both mountain-climbs and circuit races, again with fine results.

In 1965 young Fabrizio Violati bought the aging car. He would recall: "I saved the car from scrap and hid it from my parents. I only drove it at night so nobody would see me". For almost 40 more years , Fabrizio Violati then enjoyed his fabulous Ferrari 250 GTO in classic car and Historic racing events – and it became one of the last to compete regularly right into the 2000s, maintained in the Maranello Rosso Collection until his passing in 2010.

By Noah Joseph

See also: 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus sells for record $18 million at Goodwood, Ferrari 312PB looks amazing, sounds like you're ripping sheets, Ferrari delivers one-off F12 SP America in New York.