Auction house RM Sotheby’s will offer a rare 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO during a sale scheduled to take place in November 2023. Well documented with a fascinating history, the coupe is expected to become the most expensive Ferrari model ever sold at an auction.
Presented as “the holy grail of the sports car pantheon,” this specific 250 GTO was assigned chassis number 3765 and finished in Rosso Cina. It’s one of three Works examples powered by the 4.0-liter V12 that Ferrari developed to take advantage of new racing regulations. The engine (number 42 SA) featured a dry-sump lubrication system, special carburetors, and revised camshafts. Chassis number 3765 made its competition debut at the 1962 edition of the Nürburgring 1,000 Kilometers race, where it finished first in its class and second overall.
Ferrari then turned its attention to that year’s edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It prepared the car by installing a new engine that relied on six carburetors instead of three to develop about 390 horsepower. The company also made a handful of changes to the front end to help accommodate the new engine and to repair “minor damage” sustained during the car’s maiden race. The 250 GTO spun into a sand bank early on in the race, however, and putting it back on the track required spending 30 minutes digging it out and making miscellaneous repairs back in the pits. It re-entered the competition in 53rd place, moved up to 42nd place, but ended up overheating and retiring after 56 laps.
Chassis number 3765 was sold to a private buyer in Italy later in 1962 and received its third engine, a 3.0-liter V12, in November of that year. This engine remains in the car in 2023. It raced in several smaller events and went through the hands of several owners in Italy and in the United States over the following years before ending up in the hands of Fred Leydorf, the manager of AMC’s engine design team and the chairman of the Ferrari Club of America, in August 1974. The current owner, a collector based in Ohio, bought the car in April 1985.
The sale includes several factory documents that detail the car’s early history, including the engine swaps, and it’s taking place on November 13, 2023, in New York City at 5:30 p.m. local time (that’s 2:30 p.m. in California and 11:30 p.m. in Paris). RM Sotheby’s hasn’t published a pre-auction estimate, but chassis number 3765 could become the most valuable 250 GTO ever sold. The current record holder is a 1963 model that traded hands for $70 million in June 2018. It’ll need to sell for more than twice that figure to become the most expensive car in the world, however. In May 2022, a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR “Uhlenhaut Coupé” sold for $143 million at an RM Sotheby’s auction.