A 1962 Ferrari 330 LM / 250 GTO by Scaglietti, the coveted Italian coachbuilder, sold for $51.7 million at a RM Sotheby’s auction Nov. 13 in New York City. It was the most expensive Ferrari ever to sell at auction and the most expensive classic car sold publicly anywhere in the world this year.
Jim Jaeger, a prominent collector in Ohio and co-founder of the company that came to manufacture Escort radars, owned the car for nearly four decades prior to the sale. A spokesperson from RM Sotheby’s did not identify the new owner.
The final hammer price was $47 million—a buyer’s premium of 10% brought the tally to its total price to $51.7 million. Despite the record, the final sale price was lower than expectations. In the days leading up to the sale, RM Sotheby’s had listed the value of the vehicle “in excess” of $60 million.
“Its place in history is undisputed,” Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, said at the beginning of the sale.
The car sold in less than 20 minutes and started at $34 million. Bidding stayed consistent between primarily phone bidders and ended in the final moments as two bidders waffled around $47 million. Both the car, and the winning bidder, were physically present during the sale, a spokesperson confirmed.
The V-12 racer takes the top spot of the most expensive cars sold this year. The previous high was a 1967 Ferrari 412P Berlinetta that sold for $30.2 million on Aug. 17. It’s been a banner year for Ferraris, the de facto blue-chip assets of the car world: All told, 12 of the top 15 cars sold at auction this year bore the prancing pony badge, according to data compiled by Classic.com, a website that sells collectible cars and tracks their values.
“That part of the market has not changed one bit,” says Juan Diego Calle, the founder and CEO of Classic.com.
Painted scarlet and bearing a No. 7 racing livery, the car is special because it is the only Ferrari GTO example originally equipped with a 4-liter engine and the only factory GTO Tipo 1962 to have been raced by Scuderia Ferrari. In 1962, it earned a class win and a second-place finish overall at the Nürburgring 1,000 KM race. In 2012, it won the Best in Show award at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in Florida.
It doesn’t come close to the most expensive car ever sold at auction, however—a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe took $142 million in 2022.
But the GTO Tipo reflects the strength and stability of the market for the best Ferraris even during uncertain economic times. Other high-sellers in 2023 include the 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider that sold for around $18 million at a Gooding & Co. auction March 2 and a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM that sold for €15.7 million at an Artcurial auction July 5.
Previously, the most expensive Ferrari ever sold in public was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that took $48.4 million at a RM Sotheby’s auction in 2018, a spokesperson for RM Sotheby’s confirmed. That one, which has a stronger racing history, is considered by marque experts to be one of the most authentic and original of all GTO examples, the RM Sotheby’s catalogue said at the time.
But the fact that this one, Chassis 3765, was a Ferrari factory entry at the 1962 24 Hours of Le Mans, in addition to its class win at the Nürburgring and its multiple racing entries by Scuderia as a works car makes it very unique, a spokesperson said. Private sales of Ferraris have included prices that soared near $70 million, according to some reports.
Elsewhere, the collector car market has cooled. As of Nov. 3, overall classic car sales totals for the year are down 23.4% year over year, from $321.4 million in 2022 to $245.9 million this year, according to Classic.com. The annual auctions during Monterey Car Week, considered the bellwether for market values, reached a little more than $400 million across five auction houses, down from $473 million last year.