Ferrari's 70th anniversary celebrations change up a gear

The Ferrari Testatossa can claim to be the Ferrari that most often goes under the hammer. — Handout via AFP
The Ferrari Testatossa can claim to be the Ferrari that most often goes under the hammer. — Handout via AFP

ROME, Sept 8 — This weekend, Ferrari's 70th anniversary celebrations are set to hit a fever pitch as the company opens its factory and museum doors to thousands of its loyal clients for presentations, parties, an auction and even a single-marque Concours d'Elegance.

In recent weeks, a host of Ferrari rallies have been taking place across major European cities and on Friday these cars — some 500 in total — will be converging in Milan before heading to the company's HQ to complete a lap of its Fiorano test circuit.

On Sunday, there will be a Ferrari-only Concours d'Elegance where experts will pick the two most extraordinary examples from a selection of 120 of the rarest and most exotic cars ever to wear the Prancing Horse badge.

However, it is the "Leggenda e Passione" auction tomorrow, overseen by RM Sotheby's that for many could be the highlight of the weekend. The biggest ever single marque sale will see 42 Ferraris including vintage models, modern classics and even contemporary cars going under the hammer.

Although the classic car market is as buoyant as ever — new record prices for classics continue to be set with each major sale — Ferrari prices have started to cool, at least at the very highest end of the market for those stalwart cars of the late 1950s to early 1970s when Enzo Ferrari's DNA was still very much part of every car rolling out of the factory and onto the track.

However, unlike any other storied marque, modern Ferraris have now started setting records at sales around the world, making it the only car company where every single model is a potential collector's item.

For example, in terms of pre-sale estimate, the star of this year's auction is expected to be a 1960 250GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione by Scaglietti (€8.5-€10 million/RM42.9-RM50.5 million) but it could just as easily be a one-off 2017 La Ferrari Aperta built to raise money for a children's charity. It has an estimate of €4 million, but last year, when Ferrari built a one-off hard top LaFerrari to raise money for a charity repairing the earthquake damage caused in its native Italy, it went for a scarcely believable US$7 million, making it the most expensive brand-new car ever to go under the hammer.

Still, bidding will have to be fierce if any of the Ferraris in this year's auction catalogue wants to redefine the top 10 list of cars sold at auction. The current number one, a Ferrari 250 GTO, fetched US$38.115 million in 2014, while the car in 10th place, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, went for US$18.5 million in 2015.

But whatever the final hammer prices, Ferrari will still retain one record, as the most sold car at auctions organised by RM Sotheby's. Over the past 15 years it has successfully auctioned 959 Ferraris, 263 of which have fetched in excess of US$1 million. And if every lot at this weekend's auction sells, that number will rise to 1001.

As for tastes, although every multimillionaire Ferrari collector longs to get their hands on one of the 32 remaining examples of the fabled 250 GTO, the Ferrari that has gone under the hammer the most times is none other than that 1980s icon, the Ferrari Testarossa. It's closely followed by the Ferrari Daytona Berlinetta, while the third most popular is the Ferrari F40, the last ever car built by Ferrari while Enzo was still leading the firm. — AFP-Relaxnews

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