A 1962 Ferrari 250GTO Berlinetta has been slated to set a new world record for the most expensive car ever to be sold at auction when it goes under the hammer at Quail Lodge, California on 15 August.
The car was initially delivered to French ski champion Henri Oreiller on 11 September 1962 and was driven with Formula 1 ace Jo Schlesser in that year's Tour de France, in which the pair placed second. Shortly thereafter, the GTO was involved in a crash at Montlhery in which Oreiller struck a building and was killed. The car was repaired by Ferrari and sold to gentleman driver Paolo Colombo.
Two years of competition followed for the Ferrari, in which time it changed hands twice more; first being sold to Ernesto Prinoth in 1964, then Fabrizzio Violati in 1965. Violati recalled: "I saved the car from scrap and hid it from my parents. I only drove it at night so nobody would see me."
The car became the jewel in the crown of his San Marino-based Maranello Rosso Collection, which consisted of some 60 Ferrari and Abarth classics by the time of his death in 2010, and was campaigned extensively in sprints, hillclimbs and historic racing until the turn of the millennium.
"The 250GTO is one of the most charismatic cars in the collectors market, and there's been plenty of conjecture about what they have traded for in recent years," said James Knight, group director of Bonhams' Motoring department. "This is a real and honest way to assess what they are worth, and let the market decide."
The record price for a road car sold at auction is currently held by a 1967 Ferrari 275GTB/4 NART Spider, which fetched $27.5m at RM's 2013 Pebble Beach sale (Bonhams holds the outright record for the Juan Manuel Fangio Mercedes-Benz W196). However, GTOs have sold for higher figures privately. A 1963 250GTO was sold in 2012 for £20.2m, while another changed hands last year for £32m.