Classic Cars Set an All Time Auction High in 2014

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Who cares about the NASDAQ and who gives a flip about the DOW Industrial Average? When all of the cookies have fallen and all of the chips have been counted, those with the foresight to dabble in classic automobiles (and particularly vintage Ferraris) will continue to find themselves flush with cash. 2013 saw collector car auctions set a new high-water mark of $1.2-billion but that was exceeded in 2014 with a new mark of $1.3-billion, thanks in large part to the week of Pebble Beach auction sales in Monterrey, California that featured 11 global record setting 1950s and 1960s model Ferrari sales.


Topping the list of all-time high Ferrari (and automotive auction) sales in 2014 was the 1962 Ferrari GTO, sold by Bonham’s for $38.115-million at the Quail Ridge Event during Monterey Car Week/Concours d’Elegance. In what has to be ranked as one of the most dramatic moments in automotive auction history, the Ferrari was offered with a “no reserve” status (meaning that it could have sold for as little as 1-cent). As well proportioned bidders from around the globe filled the pavilion in Carmel, California and pushed onlookers out onto the lawn, telephone bidders participated via television. After periods of total silence followed skirmishes fit for a championship rugby match, a final resounding cheer went up when the Italian beauty took the top slot in auction history.

Only 39 of these cars were ever produced and they have been in “the million-dollar club” for a decade. A similar car sold privately for $52-million, last year and a car built for iconic racer Stirling Moss took down a price tag of $35-million in 2012.

RELATED INFOGRAPHIC: How Much Do Vintage Cars Cost Compared to Other Collectibles?

The question at hand seems to be: What makes these cars so valuable?

Racing Heritage. Despite the fact that during the winter between the 1961 and 1962 racing season, much of the Ferrari racing team’s top personnel quit. Chief engineer Carlo Chiti, team manager Ramulo Tavoni, dyno-room wizard Corrado Manfredini, and GTO specialist Giotto Bizzarini, along with a number of top mechanics walked out; leaving young engineer Mauro Forghieri to display his leadership capabilities with wins at Sebring, the Targa Florio, the Nurburgring, and Le Mans. Lodovico Scarfiotti also won the European Hill Climb Championship in a Ferrari equipped with a 2.0-liter engine and the GTO began a total dominance of the Grand Touring Category.

Appearance. With the introduction of the 300-horsepower Testa Rossa engine, which sat lower in the chassis of the 250 Short Wheelbase (or GTO), the center of gravity was lowered, dropping both the hood-line and lower roof-line. Functional u-shaped upper cooling ducts with removable covers compliment the grille with driving lights on each side, though every Pininfarina or Scaglietti hand-built chassis had a face of its own, the 1962 F 250 GTO looks the part of a race car, inside and out.

Performance. At the end of the day, you have to be able to beat the other guy on the track or you have no racing pedigree. The GTO could match anybody on the track when it came to horsepower in 1962. Its 3.0-liter 300-horsepower Testa Rossa V12 engine was a beast, capable of staving off competitors in the straightaway, as well as gaining ground when exiting the turns.

Expect Ferrari’s dominance of the classic car market to continue, at least for the next 2 years, as prices continue to skyrocket for ‘50s and ‘60s models.

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.