Bonham’s annual ‘The Ferrari Sale’ is special for various reasons, with the location and exclusive nature being the most obvious. On any other day the glamorous Palace Hotel in Gstaad, Switzerland is already an attraction to visit, but when it is filled with a selection of Ferrari cars and related automobilia there is a touch of magic in the air. It has become increasingly difficult for Bonham’s to assemble a collection of cars that appeals to many customers. At first glance the line-up for this year’s auction was not as exciting as that of recent years, but a closer inspection revealed that there were ‘jewels’ available in every price bracket.
As has become tradition our photographic team traveled to the Swiss Alps for the final assignment of the year; capturing The Ferrari Sale in pictures. This was not as straight forward as recent years with winter conditions making the final two hours of the trip quite a challenge. The steep road up the hill to the Hotel formed the final slippery hurdle.
Unlike previous years there was no separate sale of wristwatches, but there were some available in the automobilia sale that warmed up the crowds for the car auction. They offered a wide variety of Ferrari related items that ranged from pedal cars to sales brochures. Most of the lots were displayed on one side of the auction room, but a number of the large collection pedal cars were lined up next to the real cars in the basement parkade. Twelve of them originated from the same collection and resembled some of Ferrari’s most famous racers like the 1949 Le Mans winning 166 MM and the 156 ‘Sharknose’ F1 car. Sadly there were no offers that met the reserve set for any of them. There was a lot more interest for the various smaller scale models available. A stunning 1:5 scale version of Ulf Norinder’s 250 GTO found a new owner for CHF 12,075*. It was topped only by the highly detailed Michele Conti scratch-built 1:10 scale Ferrari 250 TR59, which changed hands for nearly CHF 25,000. Another highlight of the automobilia sale was an original and complete Ferrari 250 GT SWB tool-kit. Being a required accessory for most major Concours d’Elegance, it was subject of heavy bidding; eventually it sold for almost twice the high estimate at CHF 20,700.
Ferraris for Four
With the exception of the 412 and 456 models, Ferrari’s complete front-engined 2+2 line-up from 1963 to the present day was on offer. The latest and only current model present was a delivery mileage 612 Scaglietti. Painted in the attractive Grigio Ingrid, it sold for CHF 227,416; close to the high estimate, but still considerably cheaper than the car’s current list price. Except for the 400i GT all other four seater Ferraris sold for around the low estimate.
For those not interested in carrying more than one passenger, Bonham’s also had some thoroughbred grand tourers on offer. Fine examples of the stunningly beautiful 330 GTC and 365 GTC changed hands for well over their low and high estimates respectively.
That eighties show
Much of the rear section of the basement show floor was dominated by some of the most exciting supercars ever produced in Maranello, all of which originated from the 1980s. With 850 – 900 bhp available in qualifying trim the ultra rare F40 LM was the star of this section. It was placed in the centre and for ideal comparison a standard F40 was lined up nearby. One of the two 288 GTOs offered was celebrating its 21st anniversary of original purchase date by the vendor, while the other 288 was owned by former McLaren and Williams chief designer Adrian Newey. Of the four road cars only the one-owner GTO found a new owner for CHF 381,729 at the auction. Newey's GTO was sold shortly after to a French owner for just over CHF 400,000. Previously owned by famous cartoonist Albert Uderzo, the F40 LM was hammered down at CHF 844,665; the third highest sale of the day.
Former Ferrari F1 driver Didier Pironi’s completely original 308 GTBi was offered by his widow for the first time since the late French racer collected the car from the factory in 1982. Although above the low estimate, the CHF 43,651 it sold for was slightly disappointing.
Happy days are here again
Many enthusiasts consider the 1950s and early 1960s as Ferrari’s finest hour. In this period race winners and road cars shared the production line and many parts. In the Auction a perfect mix of these early race and road cars was assembled with a 212/225 Inter and a 250 GT TDF representing the racers and two 250 GT Coupes and a 400 SuperAmerica intended for the street. Bonham’s did not publish a pre-sale estimate for the ‘Tour de France’ and rarely do these million dollar cars actually change hands at an auction. This fully restored example formed a big exception as it topped the auction sales sheet at CHF 2,013,821. Our personal favorite, the exceptional 400 SuperAmerica bodied with Pininfarina’s ‘Aerodynamic’ body design, was sold to a United States collector for well over CHF 700,000. A race winner and the oldest car in the auction, the frequently campaigned Vignale clothed 212/225 Inter just topped the CHF 500,000 mark.
As already predicted by one of Bonham’s senior staff, the snowy conditions did not turn the potential buyers away and only contributed to the fairytale scenery the Palace Hotel is located in. With winning bids ranging from just under CHF 30,000 to over CHF 2,000,000, it is obvious that Bonham’s personnel have once again managed to assemble a highly varied collection. Maybe even more important was the fact that of the 26 Ferraris on offer, at the end of the day 23, including all high profile lots, had found a new owner. Hopefully these great results will convince Bonham’s to continue the increasingly difficult effort to maintain the annual Gstaad auction exclusive to Ferrari related lots. Allowing other marques into this annual exclusive auction will risk loosing its appeal.
*At the time of the auction the Swiss Franc (CHF) was rated at $ 0.775 USD or € 0.645.