Ferrari racing car driven by greats sells for $50.4 million

A 1957 Ferrari driven by the great British motor racers of the era broke the record for the world's most expensive racing car sold at auction after fetching just over $50 million (£24.7 million).

The previous record was the £17.5 million ($35.8 million) paid for a 1953 Mercedes W196 racing car driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, at a Bonhams auction at Goodwood's festival of speed in July 2013.

Despite the stratospheric price at the Artcurial auction in Paris, the buyer cannot use the vehicle on the roads as it was designed purely for racing.

The 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti which sold for a world record $50.4m.
The 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti which sold for a world record $50.4m.  Photo: Artcurial/Christian Martin

One of four

Only four Ferrari 335S Spider Scagliettis were ever produced, and this one had been in the hands of a private French collector for more than 40 years - hence the feverish excitement at the Rétromobile classic car show in Paris, where the auction took place.

Nine out of 10 of the world's most valuable cars sold at auction are Ferraris.

The 335S cannot be driven on the roads today – it would be illegal as it's not registered and is too loud for a start.

Paul Hudson

The 335S was first driven by British racer Peter Collins and his French partner Maurice Trintignant in the 1957 Sebring 12 Hours, then by Wolfgang von Trips in the Mille Miglia that May, where it came second.

German driver Wolfgang von Trips at the Futa Pass in the Ferrari 355S during the Mille Miglia, Brescia, 11th May 1957.
German driver Wolfgang von Trips at the Futa Pass in the Ferrari 355S during the Mille Miglia, Brescia, 11th May 1957. Photo: Getty Images

British ace Mike Hawthorn, who went on to become Formula One champion in 1958, drove the car in the Le Mans 24 Hours, setting the first official lap of the circuit in under four minutes, although the car failed to win the race after succumbing to engine failure after 56 laps.

A piece of history

The 335S also won the 1958 Cuba Grand Prix in the hands of Stirling Moss. In 1970, it was bought by Pierre Bardinon, who has amassed a collection of about 50 factory Ferrari racers.

Rebecca Ruff, of Artcurial, said: "It's an incredibly rare car with fantastic provenance and racing history. It's been part of a private collection for more than 40 years, so it's something that doesn't come up for sale. It was a very, very rare opportunity."

The legendary car was capable of doing a staggering 186mph back in the 1950s.
The legendary car was capable of doing a staggering 186mph back in the 1950s. Photo: Artcurial/Christian Martin

With its V12 engine, the 335S had a power of 390HP at 7,400 rpm and could reach speeds of around 186 mph.

Paul Hudson, The Telegraph's classic car specialist, said the vehicle had a special place in UK enthusiasts' hearts as it was driven by most of the British greats of the Fifties.

"It's one of the great Ferrari sports racing cars; not the most famous but with a brilliant pedigree," he said, highlighting the car's rarity as the key factor in its price.

It finished second in the 1957 Mille Miglia and then became the first car to average 200kph (124mph) on a lap of the Le ...
It finished second in the 1957 Mille Miglia and then became the first car to average 200kph (124mph) on a lap of the Le Mans circuit. Photo: Artcurial/Christian Martin

Market crash

"Obviously as racing cars a lot of them would have crashed. Also, at the time, all the racing teams, particularly Ferrari, had no sentiment for such cars. At the end of the season when there they were no longer competitive they were considered obsolete and would quite simply be crushed," he said.

He added: "The 335S cannot be driven on the roads today – it would be illegal as it's not registered and is too loud for a start."

The sale was fresh proof that Ferrari auctions are going stratospheric, with a particular penchant for late Fifties and Sixties models, seen as hailing back to the golden age of motor racing.

Another highlight of the Artcurial sale still up for auction was the last ever 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, made in 1963 and estimated at £6.8 million to £9.1?million. An ex-Gianni Agnelli 1986 Testarossa Spider meanwhile sold for twice its estimate at €1.21 million.

The Telegraph, London

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