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Got 35 million quid or so burning a hole in your enormous, gold-lined pockets? Then good news! This 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta will be auctioned at Bonham’s glitzy Quail event in California next month, and stands a good chance of relieving you of all that pesky cash.

Yes, this slice of red Italian excellence could, we’re told, become the most expensive car ever sold at auction, potentially eclipsing the $30m paid for a Mercedes W196 to a Bonhams event last year. Eclipsing it by a lot, maybe: though offered with no reserve, experts tell us the 250 GTO could, with a fair following wind, fetch as much as $60m. Which is about £35m in proper money. Sheesh.

So why might it fetch so much? For one, just look at it. And for two, because of history.

Chassis 3851 GT was the nineteenth 250 GTO to emerge from Maranello, completed in September 1962. French pilote Jo Schlesser drove it in the 1962 Tour de France Automobile, finishing second, before the car was crashed at a race in Montlhery, France. Repaired in Italy, it was then sold to Italian racer Paolo Colombo, who thrashed it in local hillclimb events for a couple of years with apparent success. A 3.0-litre V12 with 300bhp tended to do that in the Sixties.

In 1965, a young gent named Fabrizio Violati bought the well-worn GTO. “I saved the car from scrap and hid it from my parents,” Violati later recalled. “I only drove it at night so no one could see me.” Violati sounds like a Top Gear sort of chap.

The car remained in Violati’s family for the next 45 years, racing in classic and historic events. The GTO is in rather better nick now than when Violati first purchased it, too, having been maintained in recent years by the Maranello Rosso Collection.

And now, for the first time in nearly half a century, it’s up for sale. It’s going to be big. August 14, Quail Lodge, California. Bring your very longest chequebook…

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