Seeing a Ferrari on the road is a rare treat. All the more so when it's a convertible. But most of the Prancing Horse marque's convertibles are powered by V8 engines, leaving V12-powered Ferrari convertibles as something of a rarity.
The last one was the 599 SA Aperta, of which Ferrari made only 80 examples. Before that, there were only 559 examples of the 575 Superamerica, preceded by 448 of the 550 Barchetta Pininfarina. There were only 122 convertible versions of the 365 Daytona, and we could go on, but you get the point. This, however, is one of the rarest of them all.
It's called the 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder and only ten were ever made, exclusively for the North American market. They were specially commissioned by Ferrari's longtime US importer Luigi Chinetti and named for his North American Racing Team. One was used in the filming of the original Thomas Crown Affair and Steve McQueen was so taken by it that he bought one of his own — and later crashed it.
You can imagine, then, that seeing one up for sale is a far rarer opportunity even than seeing one on the street. But this one went up for auction recently during the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California, where it fetched a record $27.5 million. That makes it the second most expensive car ever sold at auction (behind the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 grand prix race car) and the most expensive one you could (if your insurance company let you) drive on the street. Needless to say it's also the most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction as well. The high sale price was further enhanced by the fact that it was owned by a single family its entire life — that of the late Mr Eddie Smith, Sr., to whose charitable causes the proceeds of the sale were earmarked.
"From day one, our singular aim was to tell our extraordinary father's story and honor him in a way that would have made him smile, by donating the proceeds to charities that dad and our entire family are fond of," said Eddie Smith, Jr. "We feel very blessed to be able to touch thousands of lives in such a positive way. RM Auctions did a tremendous job from start to finish, forever linking dad's legacy with the car he loved so much. Attending the festivities on the Monterey Peninsula with our friends and family was precisely what Dad would have wanted us to do!"
The winning bid was placed by Geneva-based Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, known in the fashion industry for masterminding the success of Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors. This one item contributed to a sale total of $125 million achieved by the 120 lots RM Auctions at Pebble Beach this year, at an incredible average in excess of $1 million per lot. Other highlights included a rare 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Spider that sold for over $9 million and the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Saoutchik Torpedo Roadster that sold for $8.25 million.