Artcurial Motor Cars, Paris, July 6, 2023

Ferrari 250 LM s/n 5901

Just a week after conducting its annual Le Mans Classic auction at the Sarthe Circuit, a sale of some 120 lots, Artcurial Motor Cars presented a single car sale at its Paris headquarters.

But what a car it was: 1964 Ferrari 250 LM s/n 5901, one of only 32 250 LMs built.

Its timing was remarkably serendipitous as Ferrari had returned to top rank endurance racing competition only this year with the Ferrari 499P Le Mans Hypercar, winning the twice around the clock classic in its first appearance in the race.

The last Ferrari to score an overall win at Le Mans was half a century ago, in 1965, a 275 LM, a 250 LM that recognized its engine displacement.

Ferrari had built the 250 LM, a mid-engined race car with 3.3 liter “275” engine, in an attempt to finagle the FIA to accept it as a “development of the 250 GT” and homologate it as a production car. The FIA suffered no such delusions (relocation of the Ferrari V-12 engine behind the driver was difficult to dismiss) and insisted the 250 LM (sometimes known more accurately as the 250P, 275 LM, or 275P) was a prototype fated to race with Ford’s GT40 and GT. The 250/275 LM’s Le Mans success notwithstanding, many of the 32 examples built never saw a race track except on subsequent Ferrari Owners’ Club tours and rested comfortably in collectors’ car barns for years.

Kirk F. White sold 275 LM s/n 5903 in his 1972 auction for $11,250, the nadir of a value curve (for a seven-year old used up race car) that has vaulted to eight figures in the early Twenty-Teens and peaked at RM’s Monterey auction in 2015 at $17.6 million for s/n 6105, a Ferrari Classiche certified  car with period privateer racing history in the UK and in good largely unrestored condition.

S/n 5901 has no period race history. Its auction history is described in the following report. It is significant because bidders didn’t lose their minds chasing a fable, the result is relevant to prior similar transactions and the consignor regained an objective view of value after “swinging for the fences” at Artcurial’s Retromobile auction earlier this year.

[Exchange rate and US$ results updated 7/11/2023.]

Copyright and courtesy Artcurial Motor Cars

Lot # 1 1964 Ferrari 250 LM Berlinetta, Body by Pininfarina-Scaglietti; S/N 5901; Engine # 5901; Red, White/Blue leather, cloth; Estimate $14,715,001 – $21,800,002; Competition Restoration, 2- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $15,215,202 plus commission of 12.65%; Final Price $17,140,142. – RHD. 3,285/320hp, 5-speed transaxle, Borrani centerlock wire wheels. – The 10th of 32 250 LMs built, “275” engine. Sold to Luigi Chinetti in 1964 with a litany of subsequent private owners but no race history of note aside from being a NART reserve car at Daytona in 1966 with no track time. Restored by DK Engineering for Mody Enav in 1998-99. Little used and still in good but not concours condition. Ferrari Classiche inspected in 2022 with final certification pending although Artcurial has a letter from Andrea Modena [sic] attesting to its originality except for correct-style brake discs and mufflers to be supplied by Classiche. – The 250 LM was the last (until 2023) Ferrari to win Le Mans overall. Raced cars are rare even among the minimal 250 LMs built and those used as collector or even road cars from new are choice but often overlooked. S/n 5901 has no race history but DK Engineering pointed out during restoration that its bodywork has been damaged and repaired even though all the original bits have been retained from new including the body. Artcurial offered s/n 5901 at its Retromobile auction in February of this year where it failed to sell at a reported high bid of €20 million. Five months later in this single car sale it was loose and selling at a €13 million bid and went to a new owner for €14 million hammer, €15,771,200 with commission, after Artcurial’s Matthieu Lamoure spent minutes seeking a higher bid, even another €100,000. The question is, is it worth more than a California Spider and nowhere close to a 250 GTO, not to mention Artcurial’s hubris in taking it over €20 million (if the bidding was even close) in February? This result seems to be a realistic and reasonable price for a Ferrari 250 LM that anyone will drive and display proudly. The seller accepted Ferrari collectors’ judgment with equanimity, but this transaction may be a watershed moment in the collector car market.

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