Grown to be one of the most prestigious and exclusive auctions on the calendar, Bonham's annual 'The Ferrari Sale' was held for the seventh time in the Palace Hotel. Looking out over the jet-set village of Gstaad, Switzerland, the Palace is one of the most luxurious hotels in the Alps; the perfect location for a Ferrari-only auction. With only limited space available, the cars are selected carefully to maintain a high quality offering in various price classes. One of the promised stars of this year's auction was unfortunately withdrawn a few weeks before the sale, but the rare Ferrari 735S is set to be offered by Bonham's sometime in 2005.
Christmas presents in all shapes and sizes
Timed perfectly in the holiday season, the auction offers the opportunity to obtain the perfect christmas present. Together with the thirty cars available, a selection of watches and Ferrari related memorabilia were also part of the sale. The focus of this year's selection was road cars of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, livened up by three 1990s Formula 1 racers. All household names of that era were present, with four Daytonas, two Californias, three 'Boxers', a Lusso, a Dino and a Superfast.
How do you like your Daytona?
With four examples entered, the Ferrari 'Daytona' was very well represented. Three of them originated from the same well known collector. Purchased in Gstaad in 2001, his 'perfect' Daytona Spyder was among many visitors favourites. In the past three years, it was only used once by the vendor; to drive to his brother's wedding. The most highly coveted version is the Competizione, of which only fifteen were ever constructed in the early 1970s. In the following years a number of road cars were brought up to Competizione spec. The one entered in the sale is an exceptionally fast example, only fractionally slower than the fastest original Competitizione. The two other Daytonas were 'regular' coupes, both in near perfect condition.
Grand Touring Ferrari style
When Ferrari was founded in 1947, the company's main interest was motorsport, however fortunate for us that road cars needed to be built and sold to finance the racing effort. In the early days, these road cars were basically racers fitted with bumpers and an interior, but from the mid 1950s a separate line-up of road cars came available. These still shared many parts with the successful red racers, but were slightly more refined and luxurious than the early road cars. Three of the finest of these road cars were entered in the sale; the ex-Lodovico Scarfiotti 250 GT Coupe, a 250 GT Lusso and a 500 Superfast. In the 1980s the Maranello based manufacturer turned things around with the introduction of two limited production road going racers; the 288 GTO and F40, both of which were represented as well.
Formula 1 Ferraris
From cause to means, Ferrari's racing program has turned from core business into a marketing tool for their road cars. After 1973, the 'Scuderia' focused solely on Formula 1 racing, with a lot of success in the first couple of years, but after 1979 the Italians had to wait over 20 years for a new world champion. That pivotal time came in 1999 when the constructor's championship was secured with the F399. Presented in the auction was a F399 with a rich history of testing and racing throughout the season. For many years, the red racers were powered by V12 engines until the change to V10 in 1995. The 412 T2 offered was the very last Ferrari F1 chassis fitted with a V12 engine.
In the early 1990s, Ferrari was most interested in securing the services of Jean Alesi, but he had already signed a deal with Williams. In a remarkable deal, Sir Frank Williams requested a Ferrari F1 chassis for his museum in exchange for backing out of the Alesi deal. After being in the Williams museum for over a decade the 640/1 of 1990 was offered in the auction. This monumental bargaining chip; the 1990 640/1 was also available after over a decade in Williams possession.
Further entries of interest
A number of things can add value to a particular chassis; one of the most important of these is its previous ownership. Such is the case with the green 275 GTB present, which was driven around Rome in 1966 by movie star Clint Eastwood. It was offered to him as a present by the famous Polar Films company, for whom Eastwood starred in the legendary Sergio Leone 'Spaghetti Westerns'.
Commonly referred to as the 'SEFAC Hot Rod' or Comp/61, the 1961 250 GT SWB on display was another highlight. Regarded as the fastest spec of all 250 GT SWBs, only 20 examples of the Comp/61 were constructed for the 1961 season. The example present was not entered in the auction, but is currently offered by Bonham's as a private treaty sale.
The two 250 GT LWB California Spyders were among the true stars of the auction. Combining a competition chassis with a convertible body, the Californias are the most desirable drop-top Ferraris ever produced. The red example in particular was still relatively original, in very good condition, and and drew the attention of many visitors. Together with the 365 GTS/4 Daytona it was lined up in front of the auction stage, a spot reserved for the auction highlights.
Five million Swiss Francs later
At the end of the auction many cars had found a new owner and a record price was recorded. The combination of the 275 GTB's famous first owner and the recent increase in demand for that particular model resulted in a record price of almost 560,000 Swiss Francs or just over $480,000 US. Another model high was paid for the ex King Hussein of Jordan 365 GT4/BB at 183,327 Swiss Francs. The California's reputation was further strengthened, with the red example changing hands for 1,450,500 Swiss Francs. Unfortunately none of the Formula 1 cars found a new owner.
Critics may question the line-up, by pointing at the lack of 'true stars', but that is not the main focus. Every year Bonham's experts manage to assemble a wide variety of Ferraris, usually with some of the best examples of specific models. This year the range varied from Ferrari's two and four seaters of the 1980s to the high priced Californias, and therefore appealing to every budget. In this respect the Bonham's Ferrari Sale has (earned) a unique position on the automotive calendar. All cars present are covered in our exclusive 85 shot slideshow
of The Ferrari Sale.