One of just 39 models made and regarded as one of the greatest Ferraris, the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta went under the hammer at Bonhams’ auction in Carmel, California.
The small, exclusive club of GTO owners includes Ralph Lauren, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and WalMart heir Rob Walton.
A huge crowd watching the bidding broke into applause at the confirmation of the final price, which outdid the previous record for a car sold at auction.
That record was set at Bonhams’ Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in Sussex last year when a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 R F1 Racer sold for $30m (€22.4m).
The GTO was the 19th of the 39 off the assembly line and had been owned by the Violati family — Ferrari and motor racing enthusiasts — since 1965 who bought it for the equivalent of $4,000 (€3,000).
Fabrizio Violati said “I saved the car from scrap and hid it from my parents. I only drove it at night so nobody would see me.”
Violati developed a Ferrari museum, and the GTO served as a centrepiece to the public collection. But after his death in 2010, his family decided to sell his collection.
The car competed in a number of races. In one of them, in 1962, the car was wrecked and its driver, former French ski champion Henri Oreiller, was killed.
Ferrari repaired the car and the Violati family continued to race it in the first decade of the 21st century
“The sound that car makes will make your hair stand on edge,” Peter Sweeney, a classic car dealer in Gaylordsville, Connecticut, who sells Ferraris, said. “It’s a shriek. It’s unlike any other sound you’ve ever heard before.”
Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks said the car represents the peak of any Ferrari collection: “It’s been a genuine privilege to represent this outstanding car and we are absolutely delighted with today’s results.”
The sale price, didn’t topple the October record for a car sale of any kind set by a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO racer, which fetched $52m (€38.84m) in a private transaction, Bloomberg News reported.