At what appears to be the highest price paid at public auction for a collector car, the first 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold for $14.9 million Saturday night at the Gooding auction in Monterey. With premiums, that price rose to $16.39 million, a figure that easily surpasses the $12.2 million (with buyer’s premium) paid for another 1957 Testa Rossa at RM’s 2009 Leggenda e Passione sale in Maranello, the prior high-water mark for Ferraris and collector cars in general.
According to Gooding’s description of the Testa Rossa, chassis No. 0666 TR, it is not only the first 250 Testa Rossa built, but was also campaigned by Scuderia Ferrari when new, piloted by a number of racers including Masten Gregory and Phil Hill. Luigi Chinetti then bought it and campaigned it as part of the NART team at the 1958 Le Mans with Dan Gurney and Bruce Kessler at the wheel. It was at Le Mans that Kessler nearly destroyed the car after a collision with a Jaguar D-Type; a subsequent factory rebuild ensued, and though Chinetti then sold the car shortly after, it did return to Le Mans the next year and continued to race through 1964. Though it was separated from its original engine and set afire during the 1960s, it has since been reunited with its original engine, treated to two restorations and taken first in its class (twice) at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
While the $14.9 million is the highest auction price paid, it still does not qualify the Ferrari for the title of world’s most expensive car. That goes instead to the 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, sold in a private transaction (also brokered by Gooding) to the Mullin Automotive Museum for between $30 million and $40 million last year.