Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta's $38.1 Million Sale Sets Record Auction Mark
|   Friday, August 22, 2014
When the bidding stopped at last weekend's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on a rare marque – a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta – a new auction record had been set. According to Yahoo's Motoramic, the $38.1 million price tag set at the Bonham auction, held during the concours, hammered the former record price, $29.6 million.

The former record-holder was the Mercedes-Benz W196 fielded by the legendary driver Juan Manuel Fangio, whose record five wins for the Formula One racing championship was a feat that wasn't bested for 46 years, until 2000 or 2001.
The interesting thing about Fangio's winning streak is that most of the wins came after he was 40-years-old. Today, Formula One racing is not only considered a sport, but also a young man's game with most successful racers in their 20s, when they begin to be taken seriously, and 30s, when they arrive.

Whether Formula One is really just a young man's game is not what we are discussing here. The topic of this piece is the whopping price that the Berlinetta, serial number 19, of this rather rare group of race vehicles, achieved.

In its day, says Yahoo's Motoramic, this particular Berlinetta wasn't anything out of the ordinary as it stormed around the Formula One tracks in the early 1960s. This old warrior was an ordinary runner, say those knowledgeable about Formula One at that time. However, it did decently enough that it never was sent to the scrap yard, though one race fatality is attributed to it.

According to those who attended the auction, this was perhaps one of the tensest auctions in recent years. Who can blame the bidders and ultimate buyer, who was not identified by Motoramic, for being tense? If you were trying to outbid the rest of the crowd on a rare vehicle and someone kept on toying with you by using matching bids, you'd be tense, too.

That was how the bidding was described by more than one attendee at the auction. According to auction attendees, when the bidding was opened the price of the Berlinetta quickly shot up to $30 million, amazing people for the speed to which it achieved that level.

It was at this point that the bidding slowed to a crawl, giving investors the jitters, as two bidders went back-and-forth raising the ante only $50,000 with each bid. When the Berlinetta reached the winning price, the tense crowd burst out cheering. The closing bid was at $34.65 million, however, one must also cope with a buyer's premium of 10 percent. That premium, when added to the winning bid, the final price for the Berlinetta came in at $38.1 million, setting a record for cars sold at auction.

Bonhams did a great job handling the auction and keeping the bidders from being spooked. When an auction slows down to a grind of $50,000 and another and another, people tend to be very skittish, however, the auction house kept the bidders invested in the slowly climbing auction and kept interest, those attending noted, right to the end.

Robert Brooks was the lead auctioneer for Bonhams and had plenty of nice things to say when the bidding war was over.

Brooks called representing the seller of the Berlinetta "... a genuine privilege," noted Motoramic. He called the Berlinetta an "outstanding car" and noted that the auction house was happy with the way things turned out. He noted that Bonhams predicted they would achieve a record with the Berlinetta and he was right with the final result. "The GTO did just that," Brooks concluded.

It's interesting to note that this is not the record mark for a GTO sale. Top records are usually set in private sales and the Berlinetta is no exception. Last year, for example, a 1962 GTO sold for $52 million, privately. The price is a world record and it shows just how good an investment a rare car is.

Observers note that the keys to huge payoffs with rare cars include just how rare the vehicle is. For example, there are just 39 GTOs in existence, making it a very rare vehicle. The condition was also excellent so it merited the huge payday. Motoramic was quick to caution that most of the huge sales occur in private and you seldom hear of them.
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