When Enzo Ferrari founded his iconic car company in 1959 he would never have imagined that decades later it would be transformed into a global luxury brand worth billions.
Ferrari cars are among the most desirable in the world and to many they are as much an investment as a chance to drive an automotive thoroughbred.
Ferraris invariably provide the gold standard when it comes to auctions these days, and if a record is set, it’s more than likely that the star cars hail from Maranello.
In fact, six of the 10 most expensive cars ever sold at auction proudly bear the Prancing Horse emblem, including the world record holder.
Fasten your seatbelts for the Top 10 most expensive Ferraris ever sold at auction – let the countdown begin…
10) 1959 Ferrari 250GT California LWB Alloy Spider – $18,150,000 (£14,459,288)
One of nine alloy-bodied long wheelbase California Spiders, this example was raced extensively between 1959-1964 and finished an impressive seventh place at the 1960 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Factory-fitted with enhancements including disc brakes and a competition gearbox, a “selective cosmetic restoration” was completed in 2011. It was auctioned by Gooding and Company at Pebble Beach, California on August 20, 2016.
9) 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus Spider Competizione – $18,400,177 (£14,658,593)
The first of only five examples of this 4.9-litre, V12-engined racer, it competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours and Mille Miglia in 1954, before winning a Formula 1 support race at Silverstone. It then headed to the States where it competed in the 12 Hours of Sebring and Road America 500.
Sometimes known as “The Fearsome Four-Nine”, the 375-Plus was also nicknamed ‘Le Monstre’ by the French racing community. This example was auctioned by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on June 27, 2014.
8) 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider – $18,500,000 (£14,738,117)
A barn find once owned by French film star Alain Delon, this 250 GT was one of 37 built. It was sprinkled with yet more stardust because Delon was photographed in it with Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine, amongst others.
Auctioned at Artcurial in Paris on February 6, 2015, it was just one of a forgotten collection of around 100 cars found decaying away on a French estate in 2014. The 250 GT was discovered under a pile of old car magazines next to a 1956 Maserati A6G Gran Sport Frua.
7) 1956 Ferrari 290 MM – $22,005,000 ($17,530,393)
This remarkably rare Scuderia Ferrari Works racer was campaigned by some of Formula One’s biggest names including Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, Peter Collins, Wolfgang von Trips – and later, under private ownership, Stirling Moss – in some of the most prestigious events the racing world has known.
In 2011, it underwent a full, concours-quality restoration by Ferrari Classiche to its 1957 12 Hours of Sebring configuration – the final race it entered as a works car. Of the four 290 MMs built, three have survived. It was auctioned at RM Sotheby’s Petersen Automotive Museum Sale in Los Angeles on December 10, 2018.
6) 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale – $26,400,000 (£21,031,692)
Ferrari built just three of these cars, each with lightweight aluminium bodywork and a 316bhp 3.2-litre V12 engine. This was the first and was sold by RM Auctions on August 16, 2014 in Monterey, California. Chassis 06701 was sold to its first owner in May 1965, and subsequently converted to road use with the addition of front and rear bumpers.
Records indicate the car’s colour was changed from Rosso Cina to Grigio Scurro Metalizatto at the factory (the light silver centre stripe was added later). Though the car has passed through a string of owners, it’s retained its original engine and has a well-documented ownership history.
5) 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider – $27,500,000 (£21,908,012)
Only 10 these North American Racing Team Ferrari 275s were built in open-top Spider configuration and this beauty was sold by RM Auctions in Monterey, California, on August 17, 2013.
Powered by a 300bhp 3.2-litre V12 engine, it was mated to a five-speed manual transmission, and had been in single family ownership since new. Another example appeared in 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair, and the movie’s star, Steve McQueen, was one of the first NART owners.
4) 1956 Ferrari 290 MM – $28,050,000 (£22,346,172)
This historic Ferrari 290 MM was built for Juan Manuel Fangio in 1956 to drive in the Mille Miglia. It would be the last time the legend would compete in the event because it was scrapped in 1957. Fangio finished fourth, but the 290 MM would go on to be raced by Phil Hill at the Nürburgring, Alfonso de Portago at the Rouen Grand Prix and Wolfgang von Trips, who won the Buenos Aires 1000km in 1957.
One of only four 290 MMs to be built, it was auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in New York on December 10, 2015.
3) 1957 Ferrari 335 S – $35,711,000 (£28,449,346)
One of just four Ferrari 335 S Spider Scagliettis ever produced, this car was driven by racing greats including Peter Collins, Maurice Trintignant and Wolfgang von Trips. It also won the 1958 Cuba Grand Prix with Stirling Moss at the wheel and, in the same year, Mike Hawthorn set the first official lap of the Le Mans circuit in under four minutes.
Powered by a V12 engine, it could reach a maximum speed of around 186mph. It was auctioned at Artcurial in Paris on February 5, 2016.
2) 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – $38,115,000 (£30,364,505)
Not only is this beauty the second highest-grossing Ferrari ever, it’s also the second most valuable car of any marque sold at auction. Chassis number 3851 GT was the 19th GTO to be completed and was invoiced on September 11, 1962. It was originally finished in metallic pale grey with red, white and blue centre stripes when acquired by its first owner, Formula One driver Jo Schlesser. It was the star of Bonhams’ Quail Lodge auction in Carmel, California, on August 14, 2014.
The GTO is considered especially desirable because of its gorgeous styling, racing pedigree, and the fact that it can be driven both on the road and at prestigious classic car racing events.
1) 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO – $48,405,000 ($38,562,085)
This stunning 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO smashed the previous world record of $38.1 million paid for a 1962 model of the same car in 2014. The third of just 36 examples built, it’s arguably one of the purest and best of the breed. It was offered with its original engine, gearbox, rear axle and factory Series II body after two decades in the collection of businessman Gregory Whitten.
Chassis No 3413 GT began its life as a Series I and was used as a test car by Phil Hill for the 1962 Targa Florio road race, before going on to win first in class at the event for the next two years. It also won the 1962 Italian National GT Championship, with victories in nine out of 10 races. It was auctioned by RM Sotheby’s at Monterey, California, on August 26, 2018.