Pat Devereux15 August 2014

Ferrari 250 GTO sells for £23m

As a classic, beautiful sports car sets a new auction record in California, Top Gear had a seat ringside

It took just over 10 minutes of bidding - at an average rate of over $3m a minute - but Lot 3 of Bonham's Quail Lodge Auction has now become the Most Expensive Car Sold at Auction... in the world.

TopGear.com was ringside at the glitzy California meet to watch the super-rare 1962 front-engined sports car, chassis number 3851GT, as it was sold to a telephone bidder for $34,650,000.

With the auctioneer's 10 per cent sales commission, that comes to a jackpot price tag of $38,115,000, or £22,687,500.

That's over $8m more than the last GTO sold at public auction, but still well short of the experts' predictions of a possible £35m sale.

So why did it go for so much - and why didn't it get all the way to £35m?

According to Bonhams' experts, even though it's only one of 39 GTOs ever made, immaculate and 100 per cent mechanically original, those are not the main reasons for its bank-bursting price.

The main reason this car hit the new price heights is because it has been owned by the same family for almost 50 years.

One of the main issues with classic cars is knowing if they have been messed with in any way during their life. If they have, their value plummets.

By keeping the car in the Violati family for all but a couple of years, its mechanical history is verifiable. So it's worth more.

But not as much as the market experts predicted. This they put down simply to timing. The classic car market is volcanically hot and the prices sky high right now, so a lot of collectors are staying away.

They won't be able to stay away forever though. And the next time a GTO crosses the block, it's probably going to go for even more. £35m? Could be.

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