Bonhams to auction a Ferrari 250 GTO

Classic and Grand Touring
Ferrari 250GTO 3851GT [Picture: Bonhams]

Records are likely to tumble when this GTO falls under the hammer.

With only a few weeks to go before Monterey Car Week kicks off, the big auction houses are revealing the cars consigned to auction, and it looks like records will tumble this year. 

Undoubtedly the headline sale is Bonhams consignment of Ferrari 250GTO 3851GT as part of the Maranello Rosso collection.  It's the first time in over ten years that a GTO has been openly offered for sale and perhaps more surprisingly it has no reserve.

GTO sales have been reported a couple of times in the last couple of years and each time a price has been rumoured but never officially disclosed. Internet speculation estimates that 3851GT could sell for up to $65 million when the hammer goes down at the Quail Lodge sale on the 14th August. Personally I’m not so sure as the history of this particular GTO may deter some buyers.

3851GT was first delivered to its new co-owners Jo Schlesser and Henri Oreiller in September of 1962 and the pair promptly entered it in the Tour de France Automobile for that year. They did very well, finishing second to another GTO. At the car’s next race, the Coupes de Salon at Montlhery, tragedy struck as Oreiller, a former Olympic skiing gold medallist, was killed when he crashed the car. The cause of the crash is believed to have been a tyre failure. It is the only recorded death of a 250GTO driver.

Despite the fatality the car was returned to Ferrari for repair and subsequent resale. Pictures from the aftermath of the crash show the car was very badly damaged so it can only be speculated as to how much of the original car was left when the repaired car was sold six months later to Italian racer Paulo Colombo. Colombo campaigned the car mainly in Italian hillclimb events in 1963 with considerable success, taking quite a number of class and outright wins though the year. This was continued in 1964 under new owner Ernesto Prinoth, but this would be the car's last year of competition.

In 1965 3851GT was acquired by Fabrizio Violati who would keep the car up to his death in 2010. In doing so he owned a 250GTO for longer than any other person. In addition to the GTO, Violati built up a small collection of Ferraris known as the Maranello Rosso collection which is now being offered for sale by its new owner, widely believed to be Dutchman and major Bonhams shareholder Evert Louwman. 

The last rumoured sale of a GTO was for 3505GT, which is said to have changed hands for $52 million last year. As a Tour de France winner, 3505GT has a much better history that of 3851GT. Will the considerable market inflation since that sale be enough to counter the darker history of 3851GT and set a new high watermark for 250GTO values?  As a no reserve sale, it can safely be assumed that it will set a new world record for the most expensive car ever sold at auction. That record is currently held by the ex-Fangio Mercedes W196 which sold for $29.6m in the Bonhams auction at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2013.


Ferrari 250GTO by Anthony Pritchard
Ferrari 250GTO Keith Bluemel and Jess Pourret