INVESTING IN CARS
Vintage scrap-metal Ferrari sells for R35m
The car spent decades in a race-damaged condition before being unearthed in a ‘barn find’ after a hurricane hit Florida, US, in 2004
A heap of scrap metal that used to be a 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider sold for $1.9m (R35m) at an RM Sotheby’s auction at the recent Monterey Car Week — five times the price of a brand new Ferrari 296 GTB.
The car was crashed and suffered fire damage in the 1960s and spent decades in its race-damaged condition before being unearthed in a Ferrari “barn find” of 20 cars when Hurricane Charley hit Florida in the US in August 2004.
The eye-watering price for a rusting shell demonstrates the desirability of rare classic Ferraris, and that one person’s scrap heap can be another’s potential pile of gold. It will take its unnamed buyer millions to restore the car to its glory days but may turn out to be an astute investment given the soaring auction prices that have been achieved by scarce Ferraris.
Last week in Monterey, a 1967 Ferrari 412P was sold for $30m (R560m) by Bonhams and became the fifth most valuable car and fourth most valuable Ferrari auctioned to date. In the same auction an unrestored 1962 Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta went for $9.4m at Gooding & Company.
To date, the highest price achieved by a Ferrari on auction was $48.4m for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO road car in 2018.
The 500 Mondial Spider’s rarity is what demands top dollar, despite its wrecked condition. There were 13 open-top spiders and two coupes made with Pinin Farina bodies in a run of first-series cars before Scaglietti assumed coachwork production. Cherished by enthusiasts for its historical significance, stunning aesthetics and spirited performance, the 500 Mondial is a highly desirable collectible.
It is one of only 13 Mondial Spiders made. Unlike the usual V12 race cars from the Italian carmaker, the 500 Mondial had a smaller, lighter four-cylinder 2l engine designed for tight, twisty race tracks that lacked long straights.
The car was dubbed the 500 Mondial in recognition of Alberto Ascari’s back-to-back Grand Prix world championships in 1952-53 in a four-cylinder car. The number refers to each cylinder displacing almost 500 cubic centimetres.
This unit, chassis number 0406 MD, was raced in Europe in the mid 1950s by a number of owners before making its way to the US in 1958. Here it was raced and changed hands a number of times, and in 1963 its owner replaced the original engine with an American V8. At some point after two years of racing the Mondial was crashed and suffered fire damage, and spent decades in seclusion before being auctioned as part of RM Sotheby’s Lost & Found Collection.
The car has its factory-issued chassis plate and was accompanied by components including rear-axle corners and its matching-numbers gearbox. It was also accompanied by a larger, 3l four-cylinder engine.
Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.