Unique Ferraris offered at Pebble Beach auctions

Between them, RM Sotheby’s and Gooding & Co will auction some of the finest collector cars in the world with a combined value of nearly $400 million in the week before the Pebble Beach concours in California next month.

Among the incredible lots on offer – some of which you can read about on Only Motors by clicking on the Pebble Beach tag at the bottom of this story – are two unique and very special Ferraris.

The 1956 Ferrari 250GT Berlinetta Competizione offered by RM Sotheby’s isn’t unusual in itself. Built for the top class of GT racing, 77 were built in four series between ’56 and ’59. This one, chassis 0557GT, is the fifth of seven Series 1 cars bodied by Ferrari’s preferred coachbuilder, Scaglietti.

But that isn’t what makes 0557GT so special. As is so often the case, it’s the story behind the car that makes it great. 0557GT was bought new in April ’56 by young, larger-than-life Spanish aristocrat Marquis Alfonso de Portago, fast building a reputation as one of the best (and most fearless) racing drivers in the world, despite having only taken up the sport two years earlier.

That September, de Portago entered 0557GT on the Tour de France Auto, a 3,600 mile route that included hillclimbs, sprints and races. Despite his relative inexperience, de Portago won the event, beating none other than Stirling Moss – driving a Mercedes 300SL – into second place. The victory was so significant for Ferrari that the 250GT Berlinetta became known as the Tour de France.

De Portago took three more victories in 0557GT before he was killed in a horrific crash on the Mille Miglia, driving a works Ferrari 335S. The car subsequently passed through a number of owners, was fully restored in the early Nineties and has since taken many concours trophies. RM doesn’t quote an estimate, but the bidding will be fierce for such an important piece of Ferrari history. I would be surprised if it doesn’t achieve an eight figure price.

Meanwhile, Gooding & Co have a genuinely unique example of the car that replaced the Tour de France, the 250GT SWB.

By the end of the Fifties, the TdF was getting a bit big and heavy. So Enzo Ferrari ordered his designers to come up with a new car to contest the top flight of GT racing. Surprsingly, Enzo was always resistant to new technology, so the resulting 250GT SWB – launched in 1959 – sat on an antiquated separate chassis and a live rear axle with leaf springs. At least by this time he had relented on something and specified Dunlop disc brakes.

Relatively crude it may have been, but despite (or perhaps because) of that the 250GT SWB proved hugely effectively, taking dozens of significant wins. Helped, like all 250GTs, by Giaocchino Colombo’s jewel-like 3.0-litre V12 engine, here producing around 240bhp.

Gooding’s car, chassis 3269GT, doesn’t have a racing history, but is no less important for that. One of the advantages of body-on-frame construction was that outside coachbuilders could produce their own bodies for the car. Most of the ‘factory’ cars wore panels beaten by Scaglietti, but this one was clothed by Bertone in 1962, to a simply stunning design by the young Giorgetto Giugiaro who was inspired by Ferrari’s ‘sharknose’ F1 cars. Just the one was built.

3269GT was used by company head Nuccio Bertone for a number of years before becoming the centrepiece of renowned collector Lorenzo Zambrano’s garage – Zambrano is also a former owner 0557GT. With many a concours win to its credit, 3269GT is one of the best known special-bodied SWBs in existence.

The best 250GT SWBs frequently command around $10 million; the estimate on 3269GT is an eye-watering $14 – $16 million. But in a world where rarity and provenance matter at least as much as beauty and condition, that price might not be too much to ask.

View RM Sotheby’s full catalogue here

View Gooding & Co’s full catalogue here

By Only Motors

Images courtesy of RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co

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