This coming Saturday a Ferrari 250 GTO will arrive on the block during RM Sotheby’s sale at Monterey as the most expensive car to ever go to auction with a huge estimate of US$45-60 million having been placed on it.
The third of only 36 GTOs that were built it’s considered by marque experts to be one of the most authentic and original of all and is one of a small handful to be upgraded by Scaglietti with Series II coachwork.
Engine, transmission and chassis are all original, however unlike other examples its racing history isn’t particularly spectacular, it was driven mostly by a privateers to more than 15 class and overall wins during the 1962–1965 seasons although two highlights are back-t-back class victories in the Targa Florio, in 1963 (driven by Gianni Bulgari and Maurizio Grana) and 1964 (driven by Corrado Ferlaino and Luigi Taramazzo).
With a detailed history and having been inspected by both marque specialist Marcel Massini and Ferrari Classiche representatives, there are no gaps whatsoever in its history. It last crossed the auction block in 2000 when it then fetched US$7 and is currently owned by renown classic car collector and former Microsoft software developer Dr. Greg Whitten.
With an estimate of US$45-60 million it’s set to become the most expensive car to ever be auctioned off. Previously the record paid for a 250 GTO is US$38.1 million four years ago.
However, prices for these legendary cars have continued to rise with a German collector Christian Gläsel selling his 1963 250 GTO (chassis #4153) reputedly for more than US$70 million to WeatherTech founder David MacNeil while another example that went through a private sale is believed to have been sold in excess of US$50 million.
TARGA FLORIO, PALERMO, SICILY, 26 APRIL 1964
The weather is warm and dry on this spring morning in Sicily and fans begin lining the public roads of the towns and winding mountainous stretches surrounding the city of Palermo. The 48th running of the legendary Targa Florio is only minutes away, and it is proving to be yet another glorious battle of man and machine against the clock and the elements of surprise that make motor racing purely a sport for the most daring gentlemen drivers in the world. This is, after all, the oldest sports car race in the world, and victory here is more than a fleeting moment of glory – it is a matter of national pride and a global contest that pits the racing teams from Italy against those of the U.S., Germany, England, and France.
The challenges for drivers are seemingly endless – elevation changes, blind corners, switchbacks, and of course, the danger of thousands of spectators standing mere inches from the road as sports racing cars roar by at well over 100 mph. But in merely seven hours and 10 laps of the 72-km road course, the winner of the Targa Florio will be crowned and, with him, the all-important points toward the International Championship for GT Manufacturers will be awarded.
The starting grid is a veritable who’s-who of star drivers: Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Bob Bondurant, Masten Gregory, Innes Ireland, Jean Guichet, Hans Herrmann, Joakim Bonnier, and Graham Hill. But the Italian fans have arrived to disappointment as Scuderia Ferrari has recused itself from the race while Carroll Shelby has arrived in force with four competition Cobras, serious backing from Ford in Detroit, and his sights set on the Italian Prancing Horse. Not to be discounted by any means, Stuttgart’s Porsche army was sent to Sicily by Huschke von Hanstein with five Works cars, 904/8s and 904 GTSs, purpose-built for precisely this type of endurance race.
Ferrari, of course, is the defending victor, having won the International Championship for GT Manufacturers in both 1962 and 1963 in the over-two-liter category, thanks to the stunning force of the GTO. But for the 1964 season, the FIA made further adjustments, such that the resulting classes amounted to “under two liters” and “over two liters,” the latter of which now included the powerful over-three-liter cars. This resulted in much stiffer competition for Ferrari as the GTOs were now officially in the same class as the larger capacity lightweight Jaguar E-Types, Aston Martin DB4 GT/Project cars, and the AC Cobras. Ferrari was also denied homologation status for its latest sports racing car, the 250 LM, so the 250 GTO was placed into service for one more year.
And so, as the racing season for 1964 began, the stakes were exceptionally high. Ferrari was off to a great start for this third race in the Championship, having won both at Daytona and Sebring in the weeks previous, but without the Scuderia fielding its own Works entries, victory is therefore left to the privateers . . . and the GTO.
Corrado Ferlaino is one such privateer. An entrepreneur, engineer, and future owner and president of the Naples football team, he is in his early 30s. In December of 1963, before the start of the season, he purchased chassis 3413, a 1962 Ferrari GTO with successful hill climb history and Series I bodywork.
In January, three months before his first race in the car at the Targa Florio, the car was sent by the factory to its official coachbuilder at Scaglietti on Via Emilia in Modena, where the GTOs of course were all bodied from the outset. This car was upgraded to Series II coachwork with no rear spoiler. This implemented the latest development in the GTO’s design and signified an improvement aerodynamically for the model, and owner/drivers certainly desired the latest technological offering from Ferrari. Designed by Pininfarina, this improved bodywork was lower, wider, and shorter, with a more aerodynamic, steeply raked windshield, larger tires, wider track, and the engine sitting lower, all with the aim of improving handling and balance – a critical consideration on the curves and shorter straights through the towns and seaside hills along the coasts of Sicily.
In fact, this bodywork upgrade was considered so desirable that three additional cars originally built with Series I coachwork were upgraded to this new design, two of which (including this car), featured an extended roofline in the style of the 250 LM. Aside from its aerodynamic intent, retrospectively it is considered an absolutely stunning addition to the car’s presence and renders the car’s profile not only supremely elegant, but extremely sporting and decidedly muscular.
Once the car arrived in time for the Targa Florio, it proved to be an extremely challenging event. Only 28 cars finished the race, while over 30 never even crossed the finish line, due to accidents or mechanical failures. Joakim Bonnier came out strong, taking the lead in the Porsche 718 GTR, followed by Edgar Barth in an eight-cylinder 904. By the third lap, Gianni Bulgari, driving a Porsche 904 GTS, had taken the lead. The lead changes continued over the course of the race, lap by lap, driver change after driver change. The Detroit-powered Cobras failed to finish, all exiting the race with incident or mechanical issue.
The Ferraris, however, were in their element and on their home turf, deftly maneuvering each 40-minute lap, one by one, until Ferlaino and Taramazzo crossed the finish line victorious, securing a class victory and 5th place overall, as the first in a series of four Ferrari GTOs to successfully finish the race.
Most importantly, this victory contributed a maximum 14.4 points toward Ferrari’s Championship hunt – points which proved critical at year-end as Ferrari continued its battle with Shelby’s Cobras and ultimately beat the Americans by a very close count of 84.54 to 78.3.
Simply put, Ferrari would not have won the Championship without this car’s all-important victory. Analysis of the points totals awarded to the manufacturers over the course of the ’64 season, race by race, clearly indicates that Shelby would have otherwise won the Championship at the end of the year, if Dan Gurney in his Cobra had beaten Ferlaino in his Ferrari at the Targa Florio. As such, chassis 3413 is effectively the car that won the championship for Ferrari in 1964!
GRAN TURISMO OMOLOGATO
The Targa Florio class-winner, chassis 3413, is an absolutely outstanding example of the breed and among the very best of Ferrari’s 250 GTOs. Never again would the factory develop and build a so-called production GT car purely for the sake of racing. The 250 GTO’s rise was prompted by the creation of a new International Championship for GT Manufacturers in 1962, for which the 250 SWB Berlinetta was deemed to be insufficient. Longtime Ferrari engineer Giotto Bizzarrini knew that a fresh model would be required to remain competitive with the latest machines from Aston Martin, Jaguar, and Shelby American. The SWB’s front profile was too oblique to exceed 155 mph (the front end lifted at high speeds), and the rear dimensions could not accommodate the ever-widening tires.
For one of the first times in its history, Ferrari utilized a wind tunnel to test new coachwork, which eventually featured an extended, lowered nose, and a steeper windshield to reduce drag while maximizing downforce. The hood profile was lower than its predecessor’s, in part because the new tipo 539/62 COMP chassis allowed for the engine to be mounted closer to the ground. To retain full homologation eligibility, the new car retained general 250 GT chassis dimensions and the three-liter short-block Colombo V-12, which in tipo 168/62 competizione form featured six carburetors and larger valves (as in the Testa Rossa).
The revised tipo 539 chassis was improved with lighter tubing, stiffer springs, and dual Watts linkages that stabilized the rear suspension. A new five-speed gearbox was fitted to provide maximum acceleration and top speed. While the early 1962 examples featured bolted-on rear spoilers, starting in 1963 the spoiler was formally integrated into the coachwork. For 1964, of course, the Series II bodywork that was adopted was applied to the final three GTOs built, referred to as GTO/64, and retroactively upgraded to four Series I cars as referenced earlier.
CHASSIS NUMBER 3413
This car is just the third production GTO built, completing factory assembly in late April 1962. It was the first GTO example to feature Series I coachwork details such as a small radiator intake, narrow brake ducts, hood fasteners, and sail-panel vents. Scaglietti’s coachwork also featured a bolted-on rear spoiler and turn signal lamps below the headlights. Fitted with a tipo 168/62 competizione V-12, the GTO was finished in rosso cina, and the interior was trimmed with traditional blue cloth upholstery.
In the first week of May, the Ferrari was driven by the legendary Phil Hill as SEFAC Ferrari’s official practice car for the upcoming Targa Florio. By this time, of course, Phil Hill’s importance to international American motor racing and indeed the Ferrari factory was well established. Not only had he already won Le Mans multiple times, he was also the first American Formula 1 World Champion and, quite indisputably, one of the world’s most talented and highly respected racing drivers. His presence behind the wheel of 3413 is a rare honor few cars in the world enjoy.
A few days later, the GTO was officially sold to Mrs. Arnalda Colombo, who purchased the car on behalf of her husband, the famed Italian privateer Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi, one of the most charismatic and successful privateer drivers of the era and a personal friend of Enzo Ferrari who very consistently received the finest, special cars from the factory.
Born in Milan in 1931, Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi began racing at the age of 19 with a Fiat Topolino in the 1950 Mille Miglia. In 1953 he began campaigning a Vignale-bodied Ferrari 166 MM spider, mostly in hill climbs. A year later his connection with Ferrari deepened when he began racing a freshly acquired 212 Export. He soon drove the first 250 MM berlinetta in competition, and a personal highlight was his triumph over champion racer Armando Zampieri’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.
In 1956 Lualdi-Gabardi acquired the first of four Ferrari 250 GT ‘Tour de France’ examples he would own, and it increasingly became his weapon of choice during an aggressive competition campaign from which he emerged as the 1956 Italian Hill Climb Champion. By the early 1960s the privateer was campaigning 250 GT SWB examples (including one of the rare SEFAC hot rods), and he later owned two GTO examples (including the featured car). Having purchased many Ferraris during this period, Lualdi-Gabardi soon found himself on Maranello’s preferred client list, and he apparently lunched with Enzo Ferrari frequently over the years. A crash in 1972 eventually forced the hill climb champion to permanently retire from racing, but not before he had triumphed (or earned class wins) in no fewer than 116 races, a remarkable feat by any measure.
Lualdi-Gabardi immediately began campaigning 3413 with great success in Italian hill climbs, starting with a victory at the Coppa Citta Asiago on 13 May. This was followed by a slew of class wins during the next month at hill climbs at Bologna-Raticosa, the Coppa Consuma, Bolzano-Mendola, and Trento-Bondone. The GTO then achieved several outright victories, starting with the Trieste–Opicina hill climb on 22 July, followed by the Trofeo Sarezzo-Lumezzane and the Coppa Faglioli in September, and the Coppa Autunno at Monza in October. Lualdi-Gabardi experienced such success in 3413 that at the season’s conclusion, he was declared the class champion for the 1962 Italian GT Championship.
In early April 1963 the GTO experienced a final overall victory with Lualdi-Gabardi at the Stallavena-Bosco Chiesanuova hill climb, and four days later the car was sold to its second owner, Gianni Bulgari, the scion and eventual president of the Bulgari watch company, who was no stranger to the race track and actively campaigned sports cars in period alongside the greatest gentlemen drivers. Bulgari first entered the Ferrari at the Targa Florio on 5 May, during the third round of the 1963 International Championship for GT Manufacturers, and achieved immediate success finishing 1st in class, 4th overall, with Maurizio Grana as his co-pilot. Six months later he won the Coppa FISA at Monza.
In merely its first calendar year, the feats of success that 3413 achieved are virtually unbelievable – feats of victory that speak not only to the talents of the drivers behind the wheel, but also to the world-class engineering at Ferrari that placed the GTO miles ahead, developmentally, of its competition on the track. One must consider the competition against which the Ferrari entered these races. Whether on the most legendary race tracks in Europe or local hill climbs in Italy, the GTOs were virtually on another level entirely, repeatedly and aggressively beating the competition. These were indeed the years in which the indelible image of a V-12 front-engined sports car, liveried in racing red with an iconic prancing horse became the international symbol of Ferrari’s racing dominance.
All these successes transpired before 3413 was driven to class victory at the Targa Florio the year after by Taramazzo and Ferlaino, at which point of course Ferlaino had commissioned the upgraded GTO/64 coachwork. Ferlaino raced the 250 at least three more times in 1964, earning a class win at the Bologna-Raticosa Hill Climb in late May and 3rd overall at the Mugello 500 KM a month later.
Shortly thereafter, 3413 was acquired by Dan Margulies, a dealer residing in London. At some point prior to December 1965, the front coachwork around the nose was slightly modified, with twin vertical vents for brake cooling added in place of the prior rectangular driving lights. In late December 1965, the car was entrusted to Maranello Concessionaires driver David Piper for the Redex Trophy at Brands Hatch where he claimed an outright victory, fittingly in 3413’s final period race. By the time the highly respected racing driver Piper got behind the wheel, he had already been very successful in single-seater racing, specifically Formula 2 and also Formula 1, and continues to remain active in the collector car hobby.
In 1967 the GTO was sold by Margulies to Jack Le Fort, a fellow Englishman who ran the car twice at the Prescott Speed Hill Climb before selling it a year later to noted collector Neil Corner. In fact, the car’s entire vintage racing career and subsequent chain of ownership is not only incredibly illustrious, it includes the collection of gentlemen who are rightfully considered among the foremost motoring enthusiasts in the world and whose association with 3413 further serves to confirm the importance of such a car.
In 1970 Corner entered the GTO at a race held in conjunction with the Bugatti Drivers Club Meeting at Silverstone, and shortly afterwards the car was acquired by respected collector Lord Anthony Bamford of Stoke-on-Trent. Both Corner and Bamford have owned some of the rarest and most sought-after cars in the world, including multiple GTOs, no less, and their attention to acquiring the very best is impeccable. Lord Bamford attended the English Ferrari Owners Club meet at Prescott in July 1972 and retained possession of the spectacular GTO until the 1980s, when he sold the Ferrari to collector Nigel Moores.
In 1988 Moores sold 3413 to Japanese collector Yoshijuki Hayashi, though the car remained domiciled in the UK. The Ferrari participated in European vintage events during this ownership, including the GTO 30th Anniversary Tour in September 1992, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed in June 1993 (British restoration and racing expert Tony Merrick drove the car at both events). The GTO was purchased from Hayashi in April 1994 by Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones of London, then Chairman and CEO of L’Oréal and a respected motoring enthusiast in his own right – in fact, his association with the Ferrari brand is well established and includes serving on the board of directors of Ferrari SpA. Notable events in his ownership included a showing at the Coys Historic Race Festival at Silverstone in 1994 and 1995.
In January 2000, this highly significant Ferrari was purchased by the consignor, an esteemed collector based in the Pacific Northwest, who has continued to present, race, and rally the car at premium vintage events. In Dr. Gregory Whitten’s collection, the car kept company with the absolute best of the best and, over the years, this very collection has contained one of the finest Ferrari 250 LMs in existence, a superb SEFAC Hot Rod Le Mans class-winner, a 14-louvre Tour de France and an Alfa Romeo P3, to name but a very small sampling.
In concert with an exceptional career in business, typified by an applied mathematics doctorate from Harvard, nearly two decades of work with Microsoft, and most recently the leadership of the financial software company Numerix, it is perhaps to be expected that Dr. Whitten’s passion for detail and expertise are embodied in his ownership of this GTO. Much to his credit, 3413 was regularly exhibited and driven around the world, including four appearances at the Cavallino Classic between 2001 and 2008 and four seasons in the Shell Ferrari Historic Challenge between 2001 and 2009.
Chassis 3413 also participated in the GTO 40th Anniversary tour in September 2002; the Monterey Historic Races in August 2004, 2008, and 2011; the GTO 45th Anniversary tour in 2007; the Goodwood Revival Meeting in 2011; and the GTO 50th and 55th Anniversary tours, respectively, held in 2012 and 2017. The car was furthermore presented during the GTO celebration at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was reunited with 17 of its GTO brethren. The car is most certainly one of the most actively campaigned and successful GTOs in the world.
Examples of the 250 GTO are very rarely offered for sale, let alone publicly, and 3413 is now available for the first time in over 18 years. As the third example produced, and the first to originally feature standard design details, 3413 is also notable as the primary steed in Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi’s 1962 Italian GT Championship and a major contributor in 1964 to Ferrari’s final victory in the International Championship for GT Manufacturers. As one of only seven examples to be clothed in Scaglietti’s scintillating Series II coachwork (and one of two to feature the extended roofline), this 250 GTO is quite simply the most important Ferrari ever offered publicly.
In 2018, the car was inspected onsite and in person by representatives from Ferrari’s Classiche department, and interested parties are encouraged to speak with an RM specialist to review the report from this visit. Noted Ferrari historian and expert Marcel Massini also recently inspected the car and considers it one of the very best examples, pointing to its successes with Lualdi, its originality, and all its numbers-matching components (engine block, gearbox and rear axle), which are included with the car’s sale.
Specifically, it should be noted that while the original gearbox and rear axle are currently fitted, the original engine block was astutely removed years ago for preservation, and is included with the car. The car is currently fitted with a 250 GT engine block built to GTO specification, thereby affording the new owner both the benefit of originality with the ability to drive the car as intended in vintage rallying or competition.
In the annals of automotive history, no initials loom larger than GTO. Claiming rarity, a long pedigree of mechanical development, beautifully sculpted coachwork, and an overwhelmingly successful competition record, the Ferrari 250 GTO has justifiably evolved into the world’s most desirable collector car: an instantly recognizable shape, a distinctive exhaust note, and a lustful presence that no other car in the world can claim. The rarity with which the model is publicly offered for sale confirms the desirability of the car and the ultra-exclusive members-only club that its ownership signifies: at any given point in time, 36 or fewer collectors can claim to be GTO owners.
Photos: 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Chassis No: 3413
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