A 1957 Ferrari 355 Scaglietti of impressive provenance is expected to set a new record €32million auction price on Friday evening in Paris. That's roughly half the winnings of late weekend's euro millions Lotto.
The classic car won the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix, in the hands of Sir Stirling Moss, but only after pre-race favourite (and winner of the 1957 running of the race) Juan Manuel Fangio had been kidnaped by Cuban rebels, as a way of exposing the corruption of the Batista government. Thankfully, Fangio was well cared for an returned unharmed. The same could the said of Moss' 355 racing car.
Hagerty Insurance classic car expert Johnathan Klinger told the Los Angeles Times "It has documented race history, and Stirling Moss is very famous and still alive. That adds to the provenance of the car. This is a desirable Ferrari, in the hierarchy of Ferraris."
The car comes from the collection of the late Pierre Bardinon, a well-known Ferrari collector, who once had in his possession no fewer than four Ferraris which had each taken overall wins at the Le Mans 24hrs.
This one, chassis No. 0674, originally had a 3.8-litre V12 but was later upgraded to a much more powerful 4.1-litre engine. Driven by other great names such as Peter Collins and Maurice Trintignant, and Count Wolfgang Von Tripps, it has scored other notable results as a sixth place at the 9157 Sebring 12 Hours, and a second place on the gruelling Mille Miglia 1,000-mile race around Italy.
Legendary Ferrari driver Mike Hawthorn also used it to set a lap record at Le Mans, before it was sold to the American Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti, who entered it in the Cuban race, driven by Moss and American racer Masten Gregory.
The current most expensive auction price for a car was set in 2014, at the Monterey Classic auction in California, when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO coupe was sold for just under USD$38-million. The 355 Scaglietti is expected to beat that figure. Speaking to The Financial Times, Simon Kidston, founder of Kidston SA, a boutique advisory firm for classic car collectors in Geneva said "it's probably the ultimate front-engined racing Ferrari. It was the most powerful racing car of the era."
Enthusiasm remains high for the classic car market, which has consistently offered returns well above more conventional asset classes. The Hagi index of historic automobiles has averaged annual growth of about 13.5 per cent since 1980, including a rise of 45 per cent in 2013.
But there are some signs that the heat is coming out of the sector, according to Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of the Historic Automobile Group International.
“The market is polarising,” he said. “The really good quality cars are still making money and showing price increases. But the mass market cars, cars that are not such high-quality and were produced in higher numbers, were actually quite weak in 2015. We feel that there’s oversupply in the market.”
He pointed to models such as the Mercedes-Benz SL Pagoda, the Jaguar E-Type and the Porsche 911 as examples of such "mass market" cars.
However observers remain confident that a prestige offering such as the Ferrari 335 - seen as a once in a lifetime opportunity - will not be affected.
"If you're looking at the market in general terms you could say that it's letting off a bit of steam," said James Knight, director of the motoring department at Bonhams auctioneers. "If you offer a 335 Ferrari, it ought to be market immune. It's a fabulous car and I'd be surprised if it doesn't make a new record."