A Ferrari that was purchased by an American businessman for only £5,000 has been sold at auction for an astonishing £18 million at an auction in Monterey, California.
The classic 1960’s sportscar, a Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spyder and one of only ten made, belonged to the estate of late businessman, former city mayor and philanthropist Eddie Smith. Smith passed away in 2007.
The red two-seater, which is still in mint condition, was bought for £5,000 by the businessman in 1967. Despite its age, the car’s condition and scarcity meant that experts at RM Auctions estimated that the car would go under the hammer at a price of £10 million. Against expectations, the Ferrari Spyder sold for the princely sum of £18 million, nearly double the original bid price. Eddie Smith’s family, who managed the sale, plan to donate the proceeds in their entirety to charity.
The car, which achieved global attention before its auction yesterday (Saturday 17 August) was a limited-edition special from Ferrari’s Spyder series, small convertibles designed for the global jet-set who became wealthy in the post-war boom years of the 1960s. One of the ten cars produced under this design was owned by actor Steve McQueen. He requested that a second Ferrari 275 be reserved for use in the shooting of his film The Thomas Crown Affair.
Bidding started at US$16 million before rising in $1 million increments until the gavel finally went down on the final price of US$25 million. The final bill including extras came in at $27.5 million (GBP £17.6 mill.). The buyer of the vehicle chose to remain anonymous, but auctioneers have stated to British newspaper the Daily Mail that the car will be prepared for transit to Switzerland, a popular residence among well-off marque fans. The owner plans to include the Ferrari as a showpiece in their private collection.
The Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spyder was conceived by Luigi Chinetti, a US-based Italian car dealer employed by Ferrari SpA. Chinetti had felt the car should be a highly sought after alternative to the luxurious 330 GTS. He initially picked up the idea for the Ferrari 275 after seeing a 275 GTB/4 on display at the Paris Motor Show. Ferrari were not keen on Chinetti’s grand plans for an exclusive Spyder at first, but were soon won over. Chinetti named the car after his personal North American Racing Team, or NART, a regular at American and international rallies.
They were issued in aluminium bodies and with a retractable soft top with power drawn from a 330bhp V12 engine. The sleek and nifty car could reach a top speed of 160 mph, an extraordinary figure for a convertible at that time. Even with this car’s revolutionary potential, Ferrari found selling the cars a difficult procedure and Chinetti was forced to sell several of the models at a loss. Despite this, journalists at the Road and Track magazine described Chinetti’s racing pride-and-joy as “the most satisfying sports car in the world“.
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