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1962 Ferrari 250 GTO YouTube: RM Sotheby's
YouTube: RM Sotheby's

One of only 36 produced, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO achieved an even rarer honor back in August 2018, breaking the world record for most expensive car ever sold at a public auction when it went for $48.4 million at an RM Sotheby’s annual collector car sale in Monterey, California.

Previously owned since 2000 by former Microsoft executive Greg Whitten, the GTO was purchased by an anonymous bidder for $48.4 million (after auction fees), which broke the $38 million auction record set by a 1962-63 Ferrari GTO at a 2014 Bonhams auction.

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Earlier in 2018, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO went for a whopping $70 million at a private sale. So, what is it that makes Ferrari GTOs such valuable cars? Well, it turns out that the GTOs happen to be among Ferrari’s most successful racing cars.

The particular Ferrari 250 GTO that was just sold (which also happened to be the third GTO ever built) has quite the impressive racing record under its belt, winning the 1962 GT championship in Italy and racking up over 15 race wins from 1962 to 1965. When it comes to famous folks that have gotten behind the wheel of the race car, Phil Hill — the first American racer to be a Formula 1 World Champion — drove the GTO as his practice car before the Targa Florio race in 1962. Renowned jewelry designer Gianni Bulgari also raced the car in 1963.

Another big selling point of the Ferrari GTOs is their exclusivity. All 36 of the GTOs that were built are still running, and the owners will gather every now and then for road rallies, creating a unique owner’s club of sorts.

“The GTO tours are, as far as that level of net worth goes, the ultimate event and there really is only one way to get in and that’s to own one of the 36 cars,” Jake Auerbach, RM Sotheby’s car specialist, told CNN Money.

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Now that sounds like our kind of club.

A Look at the Ferrari 250 GTO

Designed by Giotto Bizzarrini and Sergio Scaglietti, the Ferrari 250 GTO (which stands for Gran Turismo Omologata) was made to compete against the likes of the Shelby Cobra, Jaguar E-Type, and Aston Martin DP214 in Group 3 GT racing.

With a chassis based on the one used in the 250 GT SWB, the two-door berlinetta (the fancy Italian word for “sport coupé”) had a frame that incorporated A-arm front suspension, rear live-axle with Watt’s linkage, disc brakes, and Borrani wire wheels. Powertrain-wise, the 250 GTO had a Tipo 168/62 Comp. 3.0-liter V12 engine — the same that was used in the 250 Testa Rossa Le Mans winner — along with a 5-speed gearbox with Porsche-type synchromesh.

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Though variants in following years included slight bodywork modifications and performance adjustments, you can see how the great attention to detail right off the bat made the Ferrari 250 GTO such a sought-after classic car.

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