The holy grail of collector cars is officially driving into RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction (24–25 August, Monterey). One of just 36 built, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO has proved itself an extreme competitor, claiming overall victory or 1st in class in nearly 300 races worldwide. Estimated to bring in excess of $45 million at auction, this GTO is the most valuable automobile ever offered for public sale.
Ferrari’s 250 GTO was effectively the final evolution of the marque’s famous 250 model, which debuted in 1953 and ended with the last GTOs in 1964. Widely considered the most beautiful Ferrari design, the model was one of the most successful racing cars that the marque ever built. Decades down the road, the Ferrari 250 GTO has become the ultimate collector car, not only due to its incredible pedigree, but also because of a group of French collectors who organized the first gathering of GTO owners in 1982. Occurring every five years since its inception, the meeting is a glorious driving and dining tour across the country of their choosing, and the only entry into this exclusive club is ownership; making the GTO the hottest ticket in the collector car world.
The Ferrari 250 GTO on offer, chassis no. 3413, is the third of the 36 examples built, and began its life as a Series I car. Under Ferrari factory use, the GTO was a test car driven by Phil Hill for the 1962 Targa Florio road race. The car was then sold to its first owner, one of Ferrari’s most favored privateer customers, Edoardo Lualdi-Gabardi. The Italian gentleman racer entered the GTO in 10 races in 1962, winning all but one (in which he placed 2nd in class) and securing him the Italian National GT championship that year. Lualdi-Gabardi’s incredible track success with the early GTO, right out of the gate, contributed significantly in cementing what would become the GTO legend and legacy as known today.
Mr. Lualdi-Gabardi received a second GTO in 1963 and sold chassis no. 3413 to then race car driver Gianni Bulgari, who went on to lead the renowned Bulgari jewelry company from the 1960s to the 1980s. Under both Bulgari and subsequent owner Corrado Ferlaino’s ownership, the GTO handily won its class in the 1963 and 1964 Targa Florio. The car contested a total of 20 races in period, never involved in an accident, and not once failing to finish. A rare case and incredible feat for any race car, it retains its original engine, gearbox and rear axle, as well as its factory Series II body, in which it was clothed by Carrozzeria Scaglietti in 1964.
Following its racing career, the GTO has passed through an unbroken chain of ownership that includes some of the most prominent Ferrari collectors in the hobby. In 2000, it was acquired by current owner Dr. Greg Whitten, Chairman of Numerix, avid collector car enthusiast and former chief software architect at Microsoft. Under Dr. Whitten’s ownership, the GTO has competed in vintage events around the world over the last two decades, as well as four of the lauded GTO anniversary tours.
“This marks just the third time that a GTO has been offered for public sale in the new millennium. I can think of no better place than our flagship Monterey event, an auction that has borne witness to the record-smashing sale of some of the most important cars in history, for the presentation of such an exceptional example of Ferrari’s most successful racer and the world’s most sought-after collector car, full stop,” says Shelby Myers, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s. “The fact that the GTO exists as it did in period, along with Dr. Whitten’s long-term, enthusiastic ownership, only adds to the car’s impeccable pedigree.”