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What is the most expensive car in the world to be sold at auction?


What is the most expensive car in the world to be sold at auction?

As you can imagine, at Sell Your Jamjar, we have bought hundreds of thousands of cars since we first launched in 1999 which got us wondering, what is the most expensive car ever bought?

It turns out that record – for a car sold at auction - is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta. It was sold to an unknown buyer for $38,115,000 (£22,843,633) in August, 2014 at Bonhams Quail Lodge Auction in Carmel, California. The Ferrari surpassed the previous record which was set by the same auction house for a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 R F1 Racer that sold for a cool $30m.

The 250 GT was originally owned by French Formula One driver Jo Schlesser who raced the car with co-driver and friend Henri Oreiller immedately after it was released by the Ferrari factory on September 11, 1962.

However disaster struck when Oreiller, a double Olympic alpine ski racer gold medalist at the 1948 Winter Games crashed the car and was killed when he suffered a tyre blowout at 100mph at the Coupes du Salon race on October 7 which caused the Ferrari to flip. He was just 36.

The GTO was rebuilt by the factory and was briefly owned by Italian racing driver Ernesto Prinoth, who rolled the 250 GTO causing the roof to cave in at the Coppa Inter-Europa GT although he remained unharmed.  Italian Ferrari enthusiast Fabrizio Violati, who raced cars just for fun, bought the car off Prinoth for just $4000 (around $33,500 today) and owned it until his death in 2010. The car looks to have remained in the family before they decided to auction it four years later.

So what is so special about the Ferrari 250 GTO and why would anyone want to pay more than $38m for it? Designed by Italian car engineer Giotto Bizzarrini – although he was fired before the car was finished after a dispute with Ferrari owner Enzo Ferrari - and Carrozzeria Scaglietti, the 250 GTO was only in production for just two years from 1962 and 1964.

There was only ever 39 cars produced, making it one of the rarest cars in the world. With a front-engine, real-wheel-drive layout and Berlinetta two-seater body style, the engine was a 3.0 litre V12 that was also used in the 250 Testa Rossa that produced around 300 bhp.

The car was fitted with a five-speed manual gearbox and the bodywork was all-aluminum with a long, low nose and very distinctive air intakes with covers that could be removed. It also had a rear spoiler. Inside the car, however, it was designed to be very basic as primarily a racing car. For over £38m, there is not even a speedometer and the seats are upholstered with cloth.

Under FIA regulations, for a car to enter Grand Touring Car racing in 1962, there had to be at least 100 examples of a vehicle produced. As the Italian automaker had only produced 39, Ferrari, apparently got around this by numbering its chassis out of sequence so it appeared they had built more than had actually been manufactured!

The 250 GTO went on to taste a hat-trick of successes in the FIA’s International Championship for GT Manufacturers in 1962, 1963 and 1964. Since then, because the cars are so rare they have dramatically risen in price with one, originally made for legendary F1 driver Sterling Moss, being sold to a private collector for £52m.

At Sell Your Jamjar, we have bought plenty of Ferraris over the years, but we have not come across any 250 GTO’s – well not yet anyway!

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