It was seen by many as the opportunity of a lifetime: There are only 36 (39?) Ferrari 250 GTOs in the world and those who own them almost never want to sell them. Which means you have to wait until someone dies, gets overthrown from royal status, divorced, or all of the above.
Or you could wait until one of these comes along, technically a Ferrari 330 LMB. It looks like a 250 GTO, especially the snout, but it’s a different body, chassis and engine. Regardless, it’s still kind of a big deal when one sells, and this one hammered for $51.7 million, after much hype by auction house RM Sotheby’s, which, in our opinion, seemed perfectly happy to let the masses think it was one of the original 36 GTOs.
It was close enough.
The $51.7 million figure was less than the official RM Sotheby’s estimate, which said something like “over $60 million,” and it was higher than internet speculation, which was all over the place, including “over $100 million,” at least that’s what I expected it would go for when I thought it was a real 250 GTO. Hey, it’s not my money. But in the end, $51.7 million could still have been, as they say in the auction business, “well bought.”
“The once-in-a-generation chance to own the sole factory-owned Series I GTO has concluded,” said RM in a press release that had everything short of trumpets and flower girls dancing and throwing rose petals. “RM Sotheby’s has written the latest chapter of the greatest most-singular Ferrari example, selling for $51.7 million on 13 November 2023 at Sotheby’s New York during its Marquee Week Sales of Modern and Contemporary Art.”
The car, GTO Tipo 1962, chassis number 3765, was the only such car ever officially raced by the Ferrari factory itself, RM said. All the other GTOs were the property of various race teams or individuals back in the day. This car raced at Le Mans in 1962 with Mike Parkes and Lorenzo Bandini driving for Scuderia Ferrari, but did not finish after experiencing radiator troubles seven hours into the race. It did finish second at the Nürburgring 1000 KM that year and did well in hill climbs of the day.
But perhaps the biggest reason for the relatively lower sale price was that the car was a 330 LMB, or Le Mans Berlinetta, and not one of the 36 250 GTOs. It shared chassis components with the Ferrari Lusso and had a longer wheelbase than the straight-up GTO. If you wanted to be charitable you could say it was a development of the 250 GTO that had a longer wheelbase, back seat and another liter of displacement, powered as it was by a 4.0-liter V12 to the 250 GTO’s 3.0. Only four 330 LMBs were ever made, and none won any races.
Nonetheless, its sale was something of a big deal.
“Celebrating this sale during Sotheby’s marquee week highlights the unparalleled stature of this Ferrari as one of the world’s most desirable objects,” insisted RM Sotheby’s Global Head of Auctions Gord Duff. “Fetching $51.7 million, this transaction adds a new chapter to a vehicle with an unmatched legacy. Now, it ranks among the most expensive cars sold at auction, a true testament to its singular place in history.”