An impeccable 1956 Ferrari 290 MM that is set to cross the block at RM Sotheby’s Driven by Disruption event in New York has led some market experts to suggest it could challenge this year’s 250GTO as the most valuable car ever sold at auction – more than £22m.
The car is one of just four examples ever built, created to bring Ferrari victory at the 1956 Mille Miglia with five-times Formula One World Champion Juan Manuel Fangio at the wheel. Set back by appalling driving conditions, the Argentine could only manage fourth position. But it’s racing history didn’t end there.
The Ferrari became one of the first to be driven by future world champion Phil Hill, as well as delivering Eugenio Castellotti, Luigi Musso and Masten Gregory first place in the 1957 Buenos Aires 1000km. It can also count Alfonso de Portago, Peter Collins, Olivier Gendebien and Jo Bonnier among the famous names to drive it in anger.
“It’s hard to know where to start when describing just how important this 290 MM is,” said Peter Wallman of RM Sotheby’s. “Driven by the greatest drivers of the 1950s and built for possibly the greatest driver in history, this is a car with which Enzo Ferrari was personally involved and is a fundamental part of Ferrari folklore.
“Its originality, coupled with its extraordinary provenance and history, which are second to none, can only lead you to conclude that it is one of the most desirable and valuable cars that will ever come to the open market.”
Following the end of chassis 0626’s works racing career in 1956, the car was sold through Luigi Chinetti to Temple Buell, a friend of Enzo Ferrari who continued to campaign it in top flight motorsport. Two successive Ferrari team owners then owned and raced the 290 MM until 1964, when it eventually made its way into a private collection in the US.
It remained with Pierre Bardinon’s Mas du Clos Collection for 34 years before being bought by the vendor, and has been displayed at some of the world’s leading concours events, including the 1987 Cariter ‘Hommage to Ferrari’ exhibition and later the Concours of Elegance.
The car is Ferrari Classiche certified, and retains its original chassis, engine, gearbox and Scaglietti body, as well as being eligible for the Mille Miglia, which next year celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Photo credit: Tim Scott courtesy of RM Sotheby’s and the Alexis Callier Collection