The Ferrari effect

How do you guarantee success at an auction during a recession? Bring out the big guns from Maranello…

RM Auctions has a strong sales record at the annual ‘Ferrari Leggenda e Passione’ event in Maranello, and this year it expects another good set of results – recession or no recession.

In 2007 a 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Testa Rossa (6.9 million euros) and a 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta Competizione (4.2m euros) helped RM achieve total sales of $46m in its first appearance at the event. In 2008 the total was $43m, thanks partly to the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder which sold for 7m euros and a 250LM that went for 4.5m euros.

However you look at it the RM event, held in association with Sotheby’s, has been a hit.

This year the auction, which takes place on May 17 at Ferrari headquarters, looks set to top the last two events. Even if many people are tightening their belts, we know from recent sales that collectors are still willing to spend money on the right cars. And this year’s sale has the right cars in abundance.

The Monaco Grand Prix-winning Maserati 250F, which carries an estimate of £1.6-1.8m, is a huge draw. We have been privileged to drive this car, and you can read Andrew Frankel’s article about it on p60. Main points of its history are that Sir Stirling Moss raced it to victory in the principality in 1956, while other drivers who have exercised their talents behind its wheel include Juan Manuel Fangio, Jean Behra and Carroll Shelby. What’s more, the current owner is only the car’s fourth since it was manufactured.

Other competition cars in the sale include the 1964 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta Lusso (£735,000-1m) which finished fifth in class in the 1964 Tour de France, driven by Charles Muller and Heini Walter, and one of just 15 short-nose ‘Competizione Clienti’ cars produced by the factory during 1965. First owned by sports promoter Paddy McNally, the Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Competizione (estimate £1.7-2m) later won its class in the ’68 6-hour event at Surfers Paradise.

RM is also selling a 1957 250 Testa Rossa (£6.7-7.7m) which it is touting as “one of the most valuable Ferrari racing cars ever to be offered at auction”. Chassis 0714 was the second customer Testa Rossa built and was sold new to Piero Drogo. It raced at the Buenos Aires 1000kms and has taken part in the modern Mille Miglia.

There are very few racing marques which could fill an auction with such a broad spectrum of machinery – from a pair of 166 Inter Coupés from Edgar Schermerhorn’s collection to a 1990 Grand Prix car – and there are not many which have such a dedicated following.

Will the cars sell as well as in the previous two years? Ignore the recession – the bidders certainly will – and expect some serious money to change hands for some very serious cars.