A Ferrari With a Steve McQueen Connection is Heading to Auction
If you’re the kind of guy that Bernie Sanders is running his presidential campaign against, there’s no better way to show off your staggering amount of disposable income than buying a vintage Ferrari. And while “lowly” midcentury 250 models will fetch a few million, the big guns are literally worth more than their weight in gold. In March, a ’61 250GT California Spyder — the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off car — sold for a cool $17.16 million. And despite a ’57 335S fetching nearly $35 million in February, the world’s most expensive car remains a ’62 250 GTO that sold for $38 million in 2014.
And if there’s a celebrity analogue to a vintage Ferrari, it’s Steve McQueen. The midcentury man’s man seemingly had the golden touch, and with his cars, motorcycles, and other bits of ephemera fetching a fortune at auctions, it’s clear that a certain type of guy thinks owning a piece of the actor will make them cooler by proxy. So when one of his cars comes up for auction, the collector car market and the cult of McQueen converge (although there’s already a lot of overlap), all hell tends to break loose. Like when a buyer forked out over $7 million to buy McQueen’s beloved ’64 Ferrari Lusso in 2007. Nine years later with the collector car market continuing to spiral upward, a concours-level Lusso is worth “just” $2.5 million. Likewise, his 1975 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo fetched $1.95 million last year. Without his golden touch, it would’ve fetched around $350K.
Of course, if that was out of your price range, you could’ve always spent $9,945 on his Master Charge card, or $70,200 on his sunglasses. Of course, if you have some dough, but not that kind of dough, you could spend $415 on an exact replica of his shades.
This Ferrari isn’t exactly a replica. It’s one of just 10 ever built, and exactly like the one he fell for in the classic 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair. On top of its place in Hollywood history, it’s one of the most legendary Ferraris to come out of the company’s golden era: the Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider. And it’ll go up for auction at RM Sotheby’s Monaco auction next month.
This may not be the exact NART Spider that graced the big screen (that car, a 1967, sold in 2014 for $27.5 million), but this 1968 model is nearly identical to the one that helped make an entire generation of gearheads fall in love with Ferrari — which ironically enough, was exactly what the car was designed to do. Too bad it was too little, too late.
Believe it or not, Ferrari’s “Classic Era” was a financially fraught time for the company. It dominated racing, and its high-end sports cars were beloved by movie stars and international playboys, but it was having a hard time making a buck. Like the aforementioned California Spyder, the NART Spider was the company’s attempt (suggested by American importer Luigi Chinetti) to transform one of its beautiful race cars into a sexy, luxurious convertible, and raise the brand’s profile in America. The company tapped coach builder Scaglietti to transform its 275 GTB/4 into a sleek, aggressive convertible named after the company’s successful North American Racing Team that competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The results were staggering — Road and Track called it “the most satisfying sports car in the world,” but plans to build 25 models were dropped after the company found just 10 buyers. A year later, Ferrari was taken over by Fiat, giving it a much-needed cash infusion.
This car was finished in early 1968 and is the final NART Spider built. Not only that, but it was the third-to-last 275 ever built. It was delivered to its original owner in Europe (the only one sold outside the U.S.) in a deep grey over black, and has remained in the old world ever since. It received its red paint job in 2001, and its current tan interior in 2009. With its 3.2-liter, 300-horsepower Colombo V12, the 275 was one of the most formidable GT cars of its day, and the Spider is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful drop-tops to ever wear a prancing horse badge. With a pre-sale estimate of 19 to 23 million euros ($21.3 to $25.8 million), we doubt it’ll be driven in anger much.
Despite the mind-bendingly high estimate, we wouldn’t be surprised if this one sells for even more. The collector car market may be showing early signs of cooling, but vintage Ferraris are hotter than ever. Remember, the record-breaking 250 GTO is one of 39. This NART Spider is one of 10. Add the Steve McQueen connection to it, and you have one of the most desirable cars in the world. Monaco is a place where wealth usually doesn’t get a second look. Come next month, expect all eyes to be on this Ferrari.