Ferrari's price soars past $14m in bidding war

Last updated 13:32 27/05/2013
1953 V12 340/375 MM Ferrari Berlinetta.

GOING UP: This 1953 V12 340/375 MM Ferrari Berlinetta has sold for nearly double its expected price.

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A Ferrari that competed in the 1953 Le Mans 24-hour race has sold for NZ$14.7 million at an auction at Lake Como in Italy. 

The red V12 340/375 MM Berlinetta was estimated by RM Auctions to sell for at least €5 million (NZ$8m) at hammer prices. After a 20-minute battle overnight (NZ time) between three bidders, one on the telephone, it sold to an unidentified buyer in the saleroom for €9.2m (NZ$14.7m) with fees.

Earlier, another Berlinetta, a 1964 racer that competed in Italian hill climbs in the 1960s, sold for €902,750 (NZ$1.4m), against an estimate of €925,000, the top price in a Bonhams auction at the Spa Motor Circuit, Belgium. Porsche 911s were left trailing by the Italian carmaker's prices.

The top end of the market for collectable cars is dominated by Ferraris from the 1950s and 1960s. Michigan-based Hagerty's "Blue Chip" index of the best collectible autos was at an all-time high of 240.9 in April, boosted by a 24 per cent increase within the last year for classic models by the Italian supercar marque now owned by Fiat SpA.

RM's 40-lot auction is estimated cast to raise at least €23.6m. It is being held at Villa Erba in association with the nearby Concorso d'Eleganza, Villa d'Este - Europe's foremost beauty contest for classic cars.

The MM "Competizione", one of 16 Ferraris included, was driven by champions Mike Hawthorn and Nino Farina at Le Mans and disqualified from the race for a technicality on lap 12. 

The seller had been identified by dealers as the UK collector historic racer, Paul Vestey, who also owns a 250 GTO, the most valuable of all Ferraris.

The Bonhams yellow 275 GTB Berlinetta also went to an unidentified buyer at the sale, who fought off competition from three telephone bidders and a rival in the room. The seller had owned the Ferrari for five years and its value had been enhanced by its well-documented competition history, said Bonhams. It was the London-based company's inaugural sale at the race track, timed to coincide with the Spa-Classic race meeting.

Classic Porsches have also risen in value. This year is the 50th anniversary of the German company's 911 model. The distinctive sports car design has undergone many evolutions, including the powerful RS (Rennsport - ''race sport'') variant in 1973 and 1974, spurred by competition with Ferrari. 

"These were years when Porsche produced their most significant 911 designs," said Kenny Schachter, a London-based art and classic car dealer. "The juxtaposition of race and road makes these cars desirable.

"Bonhams's Spa sale included a 3.0-litre 1974 Carrera RS Coupe estimated at €400,000 to €500,000. The last of 109 examples to be built, it sold to telephone bidder for €437,000.

A 1973 2.7-litre Carrera RS with an extensive racing history sold to a bidder in the room for €181,700 against a high estimate of €200,000. Both featured the model's distinctive "duck-tail" rear spoiler.

The auction record for a Porsche 911 is the NZ$1.66 million paid at RM Auctions in Monterey, California, in 2011 for the 1970 911S that Steve McQueen drove in the movie Le Mans.

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