The Italian auto manufacturer Ferrari is a brand that really needs no introduction, but it’s difficult to refrain because there is so much that could be said about the quality, beauty and prestige of these cars. In 2015, a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Scaglietti was auctioned at Sotheby’s and it went for an amazing $17.6 million, according to the revered auction staff. Although not the most expensive rare Ferrari ever sold, the fetching price was nonetheless, impressive. What is it that makes this model so valuable? The answer involves a variety of factors including the reputation of the brand, the unique place in the history of Ferrari this vehicle occupies, and its rarity. The $17.6 million Ferrari 250 LM is well worth a closer look, for those of us who happen to be big time fans.
The history of the Ferrari 250 LM
The Ferrari 250 LM was first introduced to the world by Ferrari and Pininfarina in 1963 at the Paris Motor Show. The 1963 model was similar in design to the 250 P with a sports prototype, also referred to as an SP chassis and the reputable 250 GT V12 engine, qualifying the vehicle for competition on the track. For the era, the prototype was an innovative work of design and engineering brilliance with adjustments made to balance the weight distribution and create a small racer that boasted an 850 kg weight. An effort was made by Ferrari to gain recognition for the new prototype as a road car, but this request was denied and it remained a prototype in classification, disqualified as a road car, nonetheless, it would race.
Production run from 1964-1966
The 250 LM entered competition at the LeMans race in 1965 with drivers Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory celebrating a first place victory. Winning the race wasn’t as easy as it may sound because prior to this event, designer Mario Forghieri and his team had a few problems to solve with the prototype, making the large engine fit at the rear of the driver while also achieving a high degree of reliability and balance. After succeeding at LeMans in 1965, there was more work to do to create a reasonable design that would make the car eligible for road legal status for production. The governing FIA had previously ruled against them and it was time to go back to the drawing board. The difficulty of the task was found in maintaining its original intention while fulfilling requirements for homologation, which they were able to do with some serious re-engineering. In the end, the battle was won and the powers in existence at the time granted the second request for recognition and the Ferrari 250 LM had earned its place as both racer and as a street legal car for the road, opening the model up for sales to those interested in its sporty appeal versus the groups dedicated to track racing.
What is it that makes the 1964 250 LM so special?
We cannot fail to mention the obvious in our assessment, which is the Ferrari brand name which can well stand on its own, coupled with the Scaglietti design, but it goes far beyond this. According to the Robb Report, there were only 32 of these cars ever made. Some would even recommend that it’s the best Ferrari ever made, and although arguably true, this is a statement that is open to conjecture, however, the example that was offered at auction at Sotheby’s in the United Kingdom was undeniably the best of its type in existence. This specific car was designed with a 5 speed manual transmission in its original iteration with a 3,286 cc V12 engine that cranked 320 horsepower and although the original was not street legal, it was damned fast and made for GT racing.
The value of such a fine collectible is established by estimates but more so by the price that a collector is willing to pay for an item. The Sotheby’s auction was proof that the 1964 250 LM holds a high value in the world of Ferrari enthusiasts and those interested in making an investment in the rare car. It sold for $17.6 million while the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione which was estimated for roughly the same value did not raise a buyer at the event. This gives us a certain level in confidence in assigning the rare 250 LM the selling price as its true value
The 1964 Ferrari 250 LM is a rare vehicle that battled its way from prototype racer to road version, proving its mettle along with way. It’s one of those iconic models that collectors will clamor over while passing on the opportunity to own one of similar value. It’s a special limited edition which was only produced from 1964, or 1963 if you count the prototype, through 1966. In the short two year run, there were under three dozen produced, which made them rare cars from the time they rolled off of the production lines. A car that is over 55 years old and is still in excellent condition is a rare find these days and unfortunately, not all of the surviving models can boast this form of preservation through the decades. When we discuss the value of this rare recently auctioned vintage car, it’s something that Ferrari enthusiasts would argue about from opposing perspectives, depending upon their personal favorites, but the 2015 auction seems to have settled the debate once and for all. It’s always a pleasure to see an iconic vehicle such as this make a good show and maintain its high performance value, even if it’s on the auction block and the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM has certainly accomplished this.