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A Closer Look at the $29.1 Million 1956 Ferrari 290 MM

1956 Ferrari 290 MM

Vintage Ferraris from the 1950s are a truly rare find these days and the value of the majority of those which are either fully restored or maintained in pristine condition has reached insane auction prices. The 290 MM is one such vehicle that is among the most expensive that the brand has ever released. One of these cars went for a mind boggling $29.1 million, setting a record for this particular model. If you're wondering why these cars have such a high valuation, we can let you in on the details of the significance in the history of Ferrari that this example holds, and it's likely that the value will only go up with the passage of time.

The history of the 290 MM

Racing was a big sport in the 1950's and Ferrari was fully invested in building cars that could take the top spot in races such as the 24 Hours at Le Mans, and other high stakes championship races throughout the world. Enzo Ferrari had his sights set on one race in particular and the brand designed a race car specifically for the purpose of winning the Mille Miglia. The 290 MM, which is the acronym for Mille Miglia was the vehicle that was made for heavy competition. The cars were produced with no expense spared, hence, their high value at the time of manufacture, but he could not have possibly imagined in 1956, that the 290 MM would fetch a sizable fortune some seventy years later.

Specifications of the 1956 Ferrari 290 MM

The 1956 250 MM was made for speed and agility in its handling to make it a serious contender for the win at the upcoming Mille Miglia race. The design team at Ferrari began with the inspiration of a 4.5 liter engine utilized by Ferrari's Formula One racers, and they created a 60 degree V12 3.5 liter from this powerhouse with a 3,490 cc displacement maxing out the horse power of this particular example of the prancing horse at 320. It achieved a recorded top speed of 170 mph and it was ready for racing.

Going up against the competition

The 290 MM has an impressive track record and it retains a significant placeholder in the history of Ferrari as well as in the racing world. It was a design by Scaglietti with a heavy campaign by Scuderia Ferrari for the 1956-7 racing seasons featuring some of the most famous names in the history of racing on the factory team. These included Woldfang vonTrips, Eugenio Castellotti, Phil HIll, Peter Collings, Manuel Fangio and Olivier Gendebien. Aside from the factory sponsored drivers, the 290 MM was also driven for a private team by Sir Stirling Moss who achieved victory in his entry, culminating the vehicle's history of racing in some of the most prestigious competitions in the world. The car made its debut at the Mille Miglia as intended in 1956, taking second under the guidance of Peter Collings and Louis Klemantaski. The 290 MM took fourth at Targo Florio the same year and it also placed second at the XVIII Aosta-Gran San Bernardo Hillclimb, also making a later appearance that year at the Swedish Grand Prix riven by Fangio. Wolfgang vonTrips, Alfonso de Portago and Eugenio Catellotti took third place in Buenos Aires and Phil Hill and von Trips drove at the 12 Hours of Sebring a few months later. It took first at the 1957 Bahamas Speed Weeks driven by Sir Stirling Moss before this particular model was retired to rest in a private collection in the United States of America.

High peformance on the track and later at auction

The 1956 Ferrari 290 MM has a rich and storied history. There were only four of them ever built, so from the moment that they were released, each of the four was immediately considered to be a rare car, but they had a bit to prove in order to maximize their full potential when it comes to valuation decades after their introduction to the world. Each chassis was labeled with a unique serial number which would distinguish one sibling from the other in the years to come. In our attempt to learn more about the history of each of the four racers, we discovered that Chassis number 0628, which had been driven by Juan Manuel Fangio and enduring the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1957, had been fully restored to its original configuration at the time of the race. It was driven in the Goodwill Revival Tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio parade in 2011. This car has been bought and sold by a variety of collectors and is one of just two which have surfaced at public auctions recently. We learned that it sold for around $22 million in 2008. In 2015, the car driven by Juan Manuel Fangio at the 1956 Mille Miglia sold for $25,050,000 in 2015 which set the highest price that a racing car had ever sold for.

The value of the $29.1 million 290 MM

The car that was auctioned of ran incredible $29.1 million after all was said and done on selling price and fees, was the example which was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio making its debut at the 1956 Mille Migia. Chassis number 6028 achieved the greatest value at auction, beating out the others by a few million. This is the difference that the simple and factual history of a rare collectible can make. When you consider that this car was made with a special purpose in 1956, and it fulfilled that purpose in grand style, went on to rack up one hell of a racing record and was driven by the top race car drivers in the world, it's definitely something special!

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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