Ferrari 250 GTO Smashes Auction Record Set By Mercedes-Benz W196

Mercedes-Benz W196 Key Statistics:

Sold for: $29.7 million

Auctioneer: Bonham’s

Location: Chichester, U.K. (July, 2013)

Ferrari 250 GTO Key Statistics:

Sold For: $38 million

Auctioneer: Bonham’s

Location: California (August, 2014)

Vintage and classic cars are now more popular than ever. With huge celebrities such as Jay Leno and Chris Evans being proud owners of an entire garage of classics (Chris Evans even started classic car day this year), classic cars are now in the public eye more than they ever were before.


This helps partially explain why these two cars have sold for astronomical sums. In fact, their sales are not in isolation and they’re part of a wider trend in motoring which has seen classic car sales at auctions pass $1 billion in a year for the first time ever in 2013.

Why the W196?

Put simply, the Mercedes-Benz W196 is a major piece of motoring history and is steeped in heritage. Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cars of all time, the W196 has a place in the heart of every motoring enthusiast. Famed for its racing performance under the now legendary driver Juan Manuel Fangio, the car that was auctioned won two Grand Prix qualifying races.

Of course, racing pedigree isn’t the only factor here, and the car is also incredibly exclusive. In fact, it isn’t only exclusive, but it’s hyper rare, and is the only example of the car that is currently in the hands of a private owner. The rest are unlikely to ever be seen again.

If you want more of a history on the W196, then check out this detailed AA Cars blog post on the subject. In terms of performance and design, it appears to have no rivals; especially considering the time it was built at.

Why the 250 GTO?

Effectively under the ownership of one family for 49 years, this 250 GTO was one of only 39 models made. The car, stamped with the chassis number 3851 GT was the 19th of these car and rolled off the production line in September 1962.

When it was made it was delivered to leading French racing driver Jo Schlesser to be driven with the French ski champion Henri Oreiller in the 1962 Tour de France Automobile. However, shortly after this, Oreiller crashed the car as it flipped twice during a race at Montlhéry autodrome. Unfortunately, he died as a result of his injuries.

In 1965 the car was then repaired and sold to FabrizioViolati who drove and raced the car until the late 2000s when he also passed away. As a super rare and highly limited edition car with such a racing pedigree and complex history, it’s no owner it was sold for so much.

Now, only 2 questions remain: which one is your favourite and how long until the record is beaten again?