The familiar prancing horse shield, which adorns most Ferrari automobiles, proved itself a strong standard at last week’s 64th Annual Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance. The 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Coupe is the first Ferrari to win Best in Show at the world’s premier classic car event and the first in the history of the Pebble Beach Concours that a post-war entry has taken the overall prize. The 375 MM is a far cry from last year’s winning entry which was a monstrous 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria. Now that is a name for the Concours d’ Elegance crowd.
The 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Coupe is owned by former Microsoft President Jon Shirley but originally belonged to film director Roberto Rossellini. He purchased the car in 1952 as a Pininfarina-bodied competition spyder. After a losing encounter with a tree, legendary coach maker Scaglietti created the closed-canopy cockpit, which explains why this 375 MM has a different appearance than others (there are speculated to be five remaining). It is more aerodynamic than the factory body and slightly resembles a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Unlenhaut coupe. It was stored in pieces for a quarter-century before it was purchased by Jon Shirley in 1995. Shirley, who is an avid Ferrari collector and long-time Pebble Beach Concours d’ Elegance patron, received the car in boxes which he promptly turned over to restoration specialist Butch Dennison. Butch assembled the car with meticulous attention to maintaining every historical detail. Shirley owns dozens of other Ferraris as well as sports cars from other Italian automakers.
Adding to the success of Ferrari during the Monterey Car Week were the daily auctions, presented by some of the world’s most prolific auction houses, including Bonham’s, Mecum’s, the Pebble Beach Auction presented by Gooding & Company, Rick Cole, RM, and Russo & Steele. Combined these auction brokers amassed sales figures that exceeded $400-million (28-percent better than last year). In addition to the high grand total, the Ferrari brand represented nine of the top ten individual categories in which world records were broken.
The new world record holder for most expensive car sold at an auction, with a selling price of $38.115-million, is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. It was sold during the Bonham’s Quail Lodge Auction. Unbelievably, expert speculators had assumed that this car could sell for as much as $75-million.
The RM Auction saw a 1964 Ferrari GTB/C Speciale cross the block for the fourth highest price ever paid at auction, drawing a final bid of $26.4-million. RM also handled the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 by Scaglietti, once owned by legendary Hollywood actor and race driver Steve McQueen. It sold for just over $10-million.
The Pebble Beach Auction, presented by American auctioneers Gooding and Company sold a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder for $15.2-million.
Despite the popularity of the Ferrari models some other manufacturers saw a downturn in collector interest. A 1965 Ford GT40, which was projected to draw between $8-million and $10-million only drew $6.9-million for the final gavel. A 1995 McLaren F1 was estimated in value at $12-million to $14-million but failed to draw a sufficient reserve.
If you are interested in beginning a car collection, then Ferrari looks like the horse to back.