Maranello marks 70

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Hypercar tops auction as 92.5 per cent of Ferraris sell

‘Leggenda e passione’. Ferrari is perhaps the only marque that can be excused for the habitual use of such clichés, although the result of a recent RM auction under that name suggests it is wholly justified. Not least, it speaks volumes for the passion of Ferrari clientele that a car yet to be built has become the most expensive of this century.

The legendary Pista di Fiorano circuit was a fitting venue for this one-marque auction, taking place on the very asphalt where so many icons of Maranello first turned a wheel. A capacity audience of bidders and tifosi packed into a trackside stadium, as seven decades of Ferrari heritage took centre stage.

Those who came set their eyes upon a Ferrari so exclusive that few believed it even existed until recent years. It was the lone aluminium-bodied Daytona built for the road, one of only six alloy coachwork 365 GTB/4s constructed (the other five for competition). Sold new in Italy to a close friend of Enzo Ferrari, Luciano Conti, the car was imported to Japan in the 1970s where it remained hidden for almost four decades, few knowing whether it even still existed.

Its discovery in barn-find condition shocked Ferrari connoisseurs, making it one of only two remaining ‘Alloys’, the other being the chassis that Luigi Chinetti piloted at Le Mans in 1969. As it returned to the public eye in Maranello, spirited bidding lifted the ‘Alloy’ well above estimates, eventually selling for a model-record €1.8 million.

From a car that few knew existed to one that doesn’t… Fiercest bidding of the auction was reserved for the final lot: a one-of-a-kind LaFerrari Aperta. The open-roofed version of Ferrari’s market-defining hypercar, only 209 were slated for production – but Ferrari decided to build one final example as part of its 70-year celebration.

A quick-fire bidding war ensued for this as-yet unconstructed car, surpassing the upper estimate two-fold before continuing to climb. Eventually selling for €8.3 million, the final Aperta became the most expensive car built this century ever sold at auction, a fitting end to this celebratory auction with all proceeds from this special lot going to Save the Children.

An honourable mention is owed to a fine 1983 Ferrari 400i, a car owned from new by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. It sold for a model-record €345,000, as did a stunning ‘Green Jewel’ liveried Ferrari 488 that tripled its pre-auction estimate to reach a seven-figure sum. Among the most remarkable sales was a 1:2 scale Ferrari 812 wind tunnel model, the carbon-fibre shell selling for an estimate-doubling €600,000.

Disappointingly few racing cars were there, giving the auction a slight imbalance, but a sleek 750 Monza from 1955 certainly propped up the side. With a tri-continental race heritage the 750 sold for more than €3 million, but there was a less positive outcome for one of the few 333SP sports cars never to race – it fell short of its reserve.

Among the most storied Ferraris going under the hammer was a 250 GT California Spider, imported to Venezuela during its oil industry boom. While cruising the nightlife streets of Caracas, its wealthy owner was involved in a fatal armed robbery and the 250 GT returned to the US for a restoration. It disappeared into the Chicago suburbs for almost two decades. Only now has this desirable open Ferrari returned to the public eye, selling in Maranello for €7.85 million.

Despite lacking a showstopper, Maranello had given itself a fitting tribute in the marque’s heartland and set a benchmark for the century in the process.

THE EXPERT JAMES KNIGHT

Expert analysis from the global motoring chairman of Bonhams auction house

Our final Goodwood sale of the year was a brilliant high on which to end. The results across the board were very strong with several market-defining cars, such as the Ferrari Daytona, selling for above estimate. Over two weeks we offered more than 250 motor cars at our Beaulieu and Goodwood sales, and the 80 per cent sell-through rate indicates that the market remains buoyant both at home and abroad, with bidders from across the globe battling for the top lots. Some new benchmarks were set, such as the marque record for the 1963 Ford Galaxie originally owned and raced by ‘Gentleman Jack’ Sears. It sold for £471,900, double its pre-sale estimate.

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