Monterey, California: The auctioneer opened the sale at $10 million (Dh36.7 million). The first bid pushed that to $16 million. The final gavel fell minutes later at $27.5 million for the ultra-rare 1967 Ferrari - a world record.
The cheers got louder as the price continued to rise Saturday night in downtown Monterey, California, where the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 N.A.R.T. Spider passed to new owners from the family that originally bought the car. The final price, which included commission, makes it the most expensive road car ever sold at auction.
The sale was a highlight amid a strong night of sales for RM Auctions, which handled the Ferrari sale, and rival Gooding & Co. In all, $149 million worth of cars sold Saturday night alone.
Throughout Monterey Classic Car Week, RM, Gooding and other auction companies including Bonhams, Russo & Steele and Mecum sold $244 million in rare sheet metal through Saturday, a 15 per cent increase over the same period last year. Gooding planned to host its second night of auctions Sunday night after the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance concluded.
The concours, considered the most prestigious in the world, ended Sunday afternoon with the best of show award going to a one-off 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria.
After driving his car onto the stage littered with confetti, owner Joseph Cassini said he felt like lightning had struck twice — Cassini also won best of show at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours.
“This is the Olympics of car shows,” Cassini said, flanked by his daughter and wife on the stage. “You never think you can win the Olympics twice.”
The New Jersey collector bought the car three years ago, in rough shape, with the goal of showing it at Pebble Beach. It took more than two years to restore. Work on the car finished just eight days before he brought it to Pebble.
Drawing nearly as much attention as Cassini’s win Sunday afternoon was Saturday’s sale of the rare Ferrari.
The single-family ownership of the N.A.R.T Spider — one of 10 built — only added to the interest and the car’s record-breaking value.
Owner Eddie Smith Jr.’s late father took delivery of the car in North Carolina in 1968.
“This is a bittersweet moment for us,” Smith Jr. told a packed crowd before the bidding started. “Ferraris came and went, but this one never went, thank God. We enjoyed it as a family for 45 years.”
He had advice for its new owners: “Drive it, love it, enjoy it and, more importantly, share it with others so they can see it.”
Smith Jr. reminded those in attendance that his family would be donating proceeds from the sale to charity.
At this, the crowd took to its feet to cheer, and many people remained on their feet as the bidding started. After the first bid of $16 million, the figure quickly jumped to $20 million, then $21 million, with each new bid drawing roars of approval from the room.
The final bid was $25 million without commission, and the crowd erupted into cheers and applause as four white-gloved attendants took to the stage to roll the red Ferrari off to its journey to a new home. The auction house has not disclosed the name of the new owner.
Saturday night’s sale almost set the world record for any car sold at auction. That figure stands at $29.6 million, set in July by a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 race car.
The 275 N.A.R.T. Spider is widely considered one of the prettiest Ferraris ever made. A bright-red version was featured in the 1968 film “The Thomas Crown Affair.”
N.A.R.T. refers to the North American Racing Team, a Ferrari-backed venture created in the late 1950s to promote the brand in the US at a time when the name meant little to most racing fans.
This limited run of 275 N.A.R.T. Spiders boast a 3.2-liter V-12 with six Weber carburetors, making 300 horsepower. The engine is paired with a five-speed manual transmission and four-wheel independent suspension. The car also has taller gear ratios than other 275s, to accommodate the longer straightaways of US tracks.
Smith Sr., a self-made millionaire, bought the car for $14,500 when it was new, the equivalent of about $100,000 in today’s dollars. Never a Ferrari collector, Smith enjoyed using the car for its intended purpose: driving. He was known throughout the small town of Lexington, N.C., for giving kids a ride in the car so they could share the experience.
Smith Jr. said the family decided to sell the car because it’s been “kept in a prison” without being driven as much as their father would have liked. In keeping with Smith Sr.’s emphasis on philanthropy, the money from Saturday’s sale will go to various charities in Lexington, as well as the family foundation, Smith Jr. said.