A chassis of dented, shredded and burnt metal was, decades ago, a Ferrari race car that just sold at RM Sotheby’s in California for $1.9 million.
Surprising as it may be, it’s not quite as terrible an investment as it sounds, especially if the buyer is after something more than money: racing history and, for the new owner, a chance at glory.
One of only 13 cars ever made, the 1954 Ferrari Mondial Spider series was not one of Ferrari’s legendary V12 models but a completely different design. The four-cylinder was designed for driving on twisty tracks with lots of curves and few trails, where a smaller, lighter engine was desirable.
Ferrari won the World Championship in 1952 and 1953 with cars designed by this person, hence the name “Mondial” or “The World”.
Known by the chassis number, 0406 MD, it was originally built with a chassis by the famous Italian design firm Pinin Farina. (The company’s name was later changed to Pininfarina.) In 1954, it was driven by Franco Cortez, the same man who had driven a Ferrari years earlier to the brand’s first racing victory.
As with many vintage racing cars, the life of this car was complicated. A year or so after it was built, it was given a different body by the Scaglietti Company, before being shipped to the United States in 1958.
Sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s, the Mondial was smashed and burned, not necessarily at the same time. Decades later, the details are blurred. By that time, her original engine had also been replaced.
The car was purchased by Ferrari collector Walter Medellin in 1978, and has spent the past 45 years in its current condition in storage.
The most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction was a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which was also on display at RM Sotheby’s. It sold there in 2018 for $48.4 million.
Ferrari Mondial Spiders in good condition could sell for just over $2 million, said Brian Rapold, vice president of automotive intelligence at Hagerty, a company that closely tracks collectible car values. In recent years, some have sold for as much as $5 million.
Rappold said it could easily take $1 million to restore the car to its pre-crash appearance and make it drivable again. Therefore, the new owner can at least break through on this overall investment. But making money is not the main reason why someone would want to buy such a car.
“The sale price leaves little room for financial upside, but for the new owner, the greatest reward may be getting this historic vehicle back to like-new condition and in front of appreciative enthusiasts once again,” Rappold said in an email.
The price includes the auction house commission RM, and the buyer is not disclosed.
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