Testa Rossa Most Expensive Car Ever Sold at Auction?

Ferrari Testa Rossa prototype

The world of auction cars, and the ones that hold the record for the most expensive ever, is cloudy at best.

News sources like to flaunt a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa as the most expensive car ever sold at auction. With a $16.4 million bid when the final gavel fell, it is certainly on the list of most expensive cars ever. But does it really hold the record? Let’s take a look.

Not surprisingly, vintage Ferrari cars consistently bring a lot of money into auction houses.

A Wikipedia list (always trustworthy, I know) has the top 3 most expensive cars as Ferraris: A 1961 Ferrari 250 GT sold for $10.8 million, a 1957 Testa Rossa for $12.4 million and another (or possibly the same) 1957 Testa Rossa sold in 2011 for the “record” $16.39 million.

For the most recent sale, the car was touted as the

very first Testa Rossa – the original prototype and rolling testbed for the 250 TR (Testarossa) line, one of the most successful sports racing cars ever.

Even at $16.4 million, it seems like something else has sold for much more than that. Like, almost double. Ah yes, now I remember. The 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic, which brought in somewhere between $30 million and $40 million. As far as I know, that car was sold at auction, too. In fact, both the Testa Rossa and the Bugatti sales were handled by the same auction house, Gooding & Co.

Plus, there’s another Ferrari, a 1964 250 GTO, which sold for $31.8 million earlier this year.

So, I have to raise my hand and say, “No, guys, $16.4 million isn’t a world record.”

It’s a heck of a lot of money, and I have no doubt the real record will be broken soon (again), but not yet.

At this level, these cars are purchased as investments only. If I had the money and bought one, I’d still drive it to the grocery store every now and then. Would you?


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  1. Its very cool but not something you will enjoy much. After all it’s not like the guy is ever going to drive it down the street. It will just sit in a garage and just be admired by the owner. I don’t really get it. I have a techart twin turbo Porshe and I know it loses value the more miles I put on it but I bought it to enjoy racing it and not just staring at it.

  2. I hope I’m not so cynical to believe that they’re simply bought as investments. There are probably better ways to make money on investments. I remember Tom Managham setting a record buying a Bugatti Royale many years ago. I have no doubt Tom bought the car because he loved it, not for an investment. He was also able to buy and preserve a very important collection of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture and loved the architect’s work so much that his Domino’s Pizza headquarters complex was built in FLW style. I know when I look at that Testa Rosa, I sure would be willing to sit in it and start it up, and (If I had that kind of money) build a very safe little track to drive it around on, but that’s an important piece of automotive history that needs to be safeguarded. Drive it on the street with nuts like tgriffith sharing the road? NO WAY

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