The Ferrari 250 GTO has always been the most expensive car on the planet, at least for my lifetime of (just) 29 years. Recently, it broke another record as the most expensive car to be sold at an auction. But why? Was this car different from the rest of the GTO’s? Did it win the Indy 500, Monacco Grand Prix and Le Mans all in the same year? Did Marilyn and JFK have a little too much fun in it in the 60’s?
NO, the real reason is a bit more far fetched than any of that.
It became the most expensive car to ever cross the auction block when it sold in 2018 at Monterey for a Dr. Evil pinky worthy $48.4 million because of a silly and ridiculous reason.
But let's start with why the 1962-1964 Ferrari GTO's have been the most valuable cars in the world for decades.
Ferrari hand build just 36 examples of their 250 GTO from 62-64 for the Group 3 Grand Touring Car FIA circuit. They were purebred racing machines from the start and owners of them have always loved the visceral nature of the driving experience. A wailing V12 up front and 50 year old technology can capture the attention of any driving enthusiast. Many of these cars have well documented racing records and in some cases, high profile wins.
Back to our 23 car.
Put simply, this particular GTO is the most expensive because it is by far the UGLIEST GTO ever made. Yes I said it. Take a quick look here and compare the number 23 car with all of the others and you might notice it looks a bit off...That car stands apart from other GTO’s because of its design. It is like some kind of sea monster that emerged from the ocean too early. Still dripping and not fully developed with a sloped forehead and fish like nostrils.
But there was a reason for this design and a rarity that comes with it.
There were two different series of the 250 GTO produced, Series I was the tyipcal design that everyone growing up loving. Series II was produced in ONLY 3 examples and was designed to be much more aerodynamic.
The 23 car is a Series II....again, just one of three examples...a rarer version of the most expensive car ever sold.
The number 23 car was designed in wind tunneles to be more aerodynamically efficient at top speeds. It is sleeker with a steeper windshield and gradual slope behind the driver to allow for a smoother flow of air to the rear of the car, much like the Shelby Cobra Daytona. This windtunnel development paid off as this car is a multiple race winner and more importantly, was never wrecked and never needed to change out any major components keeping it mostly original as it crossed the auction block.
This Ferrari 250 GTO, although ugly, is a preserved, battle tested, thoroughbred italian pony and THAT is why some maniac paid $48.4 million to park it in a garage. Simply said, I’m jealous