- Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why are Ferrari 250 GTO's always among the most expensive cars in the world?

The old-timers often hold tens of millions in currency to their name - but what makes these record-breaking cars so special?

7w ago
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Hammering down at a price of USD$48,405,000 in RM Sotheby's auction at Monterey in 2018, the Scaglietti-designed variant of the highly-acclaimed Ferrari 250 GTO set a record for being the most expensive car in the world ever to be sold at auction.

Its the car that is instantly recognisable for most of us, simply because of its aesthetic and monetary value - but the fact that this car is worth more than many properties of celebrities calls for an explanation.

Ferrari 250 GTO by Scaglietti | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ferrari 250 GTO by Scaglietti | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Described perfectly by RM Sotheby themselves as 'The world’s most important, desirable, and legendary motor car', there is no question that Ferrari has clearly earned its status as one of the most respectable brands in Motorsport over the years.

Making its own mark in the history of Motorsports is exactly what the 250 GTO lends its pedigree to, as a legendary testament to both the timeless design and period performance of which Ferrari is defined for.

The 250 GTO by Scaglietti effortlessly rose to high-value fame thanks to the car being one of the most decorated cars in racing when it comes to achievements of significance. The record-breaking chassis number 3143 secured over 15 class and overall wins during the 1962–1965 seasons, along with taking home a 1st in class award at both the 1963 and 1964 Targa Florio events.

The legendary Targa Florio event | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The legendary Targa Florio event | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Other notable features of this fine piece of art include that the Scaglietti variant is just one of seven to have ever received the more aggressive and successful coachwork that sets it apart from the 'standard-issue' 250 GTO, which is equally as breathtaking - so it's no myth that limited-production classic racing Ferraris demand a pretty penny.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sporting a tipo 168/62 competizione V-12 engine with an intention of maximising competition between key players of 60s era racing, fighting for the podium against legendary motorsport-related marques such as Jaguar, Aston Martin and Shelby American.

250 GTO's were widely recognised and praised for their racing capabilities - able to compete competently in track events, all the way to putting on a formidable show at mountain and hill climb events around the world, all while exemplifying its effortless beauty.

Amazingly, Ferrari managed to have both the first most expensive and the second most expensive cars ever to have been sold at auction. The second most expensive car in the world to date is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, which was handed over to its new owner at an expense of an unfathomable USD$38,115,000.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sold by Bonhams at the Quail Lodge auction in 2014 in what was described as “a passionate bidding war that at times resembled a tennis match, complete with moments of silence interrupted by cheers,” this particular 250 GTO was offered without reserve - meaning any outcome could be possible. However the prospect of anyone able to secure a bargain on any variant of a 250 GTO would be the closest thing to a miracle on earth.

The prized Ferrari 250 GTO won the World title of both seasons of the 1963 FIA GT World Championship in succession - which contributed to its eventual value. The 3-litre V12 racing machine was also piloted by Paolo Colombo, who set third fastest time in his class at the VI Stallavena-Boscochiesanuova hill-climb. Colombo competed in no less than 14 hill climb events in total - and in 12 of which, he scored Gran Turismo class victories in.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

But the 'wow' factor didn't stop there. The two-seat coupe designed by chief engineer Giotto Bizzarrini remained in the same private hands for 49 years, which undoubtedly drove the value up further.

Ultimately, such extortionate amounts of money involved with 250 GTO's can be justified by many factors other than a classic car from a well-established brand - it lies mostly within its historical journey as a car, along with how well-maintained the originality of the vehicle is.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

With such small numbers of any variant of the 250 GTO dotted around the planet, there's no real warning as to when another of these incredibly distinguishable cars will roll up in front of its next batch of potential bidders.

Is paying this much for a car is justifiable by any means? Let me know below!

| Ollie Funnell | Student Journalist, Coventry University

| Twitter: funnelloo

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Comments (3)

  • A beautiful and fantastic car

      1 month ago
  • Both the first and second series 250GTO were built by Scaglietti. The first series was an in house effort started by Bizzarrini and finished by Scaglietti and new chief designer Mauro Forghieri. The second series was built after testing in the Pininfarina wind tunnel and was a rush job as the FIA would not homologate the 250LM in the GT class (it is effectively a front engined LM). RM Sotheby's always like to add by..... the coachbuilder on all their Ferrari sales but it is a bit meaningless IMO (most Ferrari Berlinettas were built by Scaglietti regardless of the designer). Although the second series is rarer and has a higher public selling price, the early series cars are considered to be more desirable and have higher private selling prices.

    As to value, the GTO is a special car but they are plenty of other Ferraris (and cars from other marques) that are just as rare and have equally good competition histories (again the 250LM for example one of which won Le Mans outright). However there aren't any really that are as special and ALSO so usable for the average billionaire with a bad hip. Nick Mason famously used his to take the kids to school. Mechanically they are little different from the regular production Ferraris of the time. The 250LM on the other hand has an awkward driving position especially if you are tall and a gearbox probably beyond the skills of a billionaire used to being chauffeured in the back of a Maybach.

    It also helps that there is an exclusive tour every five years for 250GTO owners only, which is perhaps the ultimate statement of I'm a rich car guy. Incidentally here is a similar tour for the Mclaren F1 which has also had a positive (or negative depending on your point of view) effect on their values too.

      1 month ago
    • A lot of this I was unaware of! I feel completely enlightened now, really appreciate the information!

        1 month ago
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