As every fan should know, there is no more luxurious and elite event related to this world than the Peeble Beach Contest of Elegance, held annually in California.
In the heat of this contest, all kinds of events are held, from races in Laguna Seca to excursions along the coast or parts markets. And how could it be less, there are also auctions. The different houses take advantage of the select public thirsty for supercars to carry the most exclusive and expensive lots of the year. Suffice it to say that among RM Auctions, Bonhams and Gooding & Company alone, no less than 77 top-level Ferraris went up for auction.
Among all of them, the Ferrari 250 GTO by Bonhams stood out. Any GTO is synonymous with the highest price, but the one that was auctioned in California had something that made it even more special: It is the only GTO that has been in the hands of the same owner for more than 40 years. that he is also a famous character in the "world" of classic Ferraris and that he has been using it on the circuit until very recently.
This man is none other than Fabrizio Violati, founder of the Maranello Rosso museum in San Marino (Italy), place which housed the until now the largest collection of Ferrari 250s in the world, apart from many other jewels.
This pioneer of collecting was born in Rome on June 17, 1935 into a family dedicated to agriculture and the production and bottling of mineral water on a large scale. He graduated in geology and went to work for the family firm, becoming the group's CEO, which was sold to Danone in 1987.
However, from an early age Fabrizio combined the family business with his love of motor and speed. At the age of 16, he acquired a Vespa and was dedicated to jumping over several barrels in the family factory, managing to jump 12 of them in a single “flight”.
This strange hobby reached the ears of the Vespa factory, which quickly hired him as an official pilot. In 1954 Violati won his class at the “Campionato Italiano di Regolaritá” for Vespas.
After this he made the leap to 4 wheels in 1959 by acquiring a small Fiat 600 with which he participated in several hill races, although already in 1960 he replaced it with a much more competitive Abarth 750. With this car he suffered a terrible accident that kept him locked up in the hospital for 6 months, but despite this Fabrizio began with this car a great love for the scorpion brand, as we will see later.
This accident made his family strongly "recommend" him to abandon any sporting participation, but it did not prevent Violati from buying his first Ferrari a few years later. the 250 GTO chassis number 3851 GT featured in the last Bonhams auction.
AS ALWAYS, WITH PEDIGRÍ
This car is number 19 of the 36 built, and was completed on September 11, 1962. Its first owner was the famous French driver Jo Schlesser, who drove the car in the 1962 Tour de France co-piloted by the French ski champion. Henri Oreiller. The pair fought for the victory until the last kilometers and finally they secured a second place general.
After this Schelesser entered his 250 GTO in a race at the Montlhery circuit, south of Paris, where he suffered a spectacular accident. The car was immediately shipped to Italy, where the Ferrari factory itself had it completely repaired and sold to the Italian driver Paolo Colombo just in time for the start of the 1963 racing season.
After a successful season in the Italian “mountain climbing time trial” category, the GTO was sold to pilot Ernesto Prinoth in 1964, who also used it in competition with success.
Fabrizio Violati bought it from this same man in 1965 for 2.500.000 Liras (the current equivalent of 25.000 euros). Violati always remembered that he saved it "in extremis" from being scrapped to use its engine as a propellant for a racing boat.
After this, Violati bought his second Ferrari in 1974; It was a "normal" 250 GT, which was soon followed by a 250 1960 GT SWB Competizione with aluminum bodywork. From here on, his collection increased by the minute, to include no less than 25 Ferraris "black leg" and as many Abarths with racing pedigree.
Among the Ferraris in his collection were the 330 1964P that he had won at Goodwood at the controls of the legendary Graham Hill, the 250 MM Berlinetta Pinin Farina or the 312 3 T1978 Grand Prix that had been driven by the Villeneuve-Reutemann couple.
In 1979 Fabrizio resumed his love of racing and began to participate in the Fia Historical Championship with his GTOs and SWBs under the umbrella of the “Scuderia Campidoglio Autostoriche”, obtaining the FIA title in 1985 and winning the Targa Florio Histórica in 1989. During the 80s Violati also participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for “current” cars at the controls of a Ferrari 512 BBLM, although in his three participations he had to withdraw due to a breakdown.
In 1984 Enzo Ferrari himself entrusted Violati with the formation of the Ferrari Club Italia, a task that he carried out with such success that he was allowed by Ferrari to use the name "Maranello Rosso" for its collection of Ferraris and Abarths, which opened to the public in 1989 in San Marino although the facilities were renovated in 2000 to the way they looked when Unai Ona took the photos that accompany this article.
Fabrizio Violati passed away in 2010, and although doubts about the future of the museum began, it seemed that it was going to remain open to the public as a tribute to the figure of this great collector. Until last year the collection was open to the public - although as you can see it was not allowed to take photos of the basement floor, where the Abarth collection was located - until it mysteriously closed its doors one day.
Evert Lowmann is one of the world's largest vintage car collectors. Suffice it to say that with his private collection (which his father began as early as the 30s of the XNUMXth century) the National Automobile Museum of the Netherlands has been created.
In recent years, the Lowmann collection had "engulfed" - bought, understand - other important collections, such as the famous Italian Rosso Bianco, made up mostly of valued sports cars from the 10s to the 70s. , after the closure of the Maranello Rosso museum it was speculated that Lowmann had acquired the entire collection in batch ... without handling figures, of course, but they can be imagined.
Finally the "hoax" was confirmed, the collection had been transferred to a warehouse in Holland. And shortly after the news broke that Bonhams was going to auction "10 significant pieces from the Maranello Rosso collection", including its star, the 250 GTO.
There are still many unknowns about this curious operation. The stratospheric figures have been kept - of course - in the strictest secrecy. It is also not very well known why Lowmann has not chosen to stay with the 250 GTO, it would be the perfect "icing" for its spectacular museum ... As much as the sale price of this car at auction may blow all forecasts.
And it is that the two 250 GTOs previously sold had handled astronomical figures: In 2012 one was sold for 32 million dollars. In 2013 another reached 52 million. The one from Bonhams had the pedigree that we have already described and it is assumed that there has been no other with such an active, celebrated owner and who has maintained it for so many years.
With this background there was great expectation, partly motivated by the comments of several specialized journalists who claimed that this GTO could be the first car in auction history to get very close or even reach the 100 million barrier, in this case of dollars.
Finally it was not like that and the GTO ex Violati sold very close to the minimum price estimated by Bonhams. And while the $ 38.115.000 raised marks a new all-time record for cars sold at auction, the figure has not been as spectacular as expected. It has certainly been a small glimmer of sanity among all the nonsensical figures that have been handled in California last August.
For example, just with the 10 cars from the Maranello Rosso collection, Bonhams has managed to raise $ 65.945.000. And as testimony of what was the spectacular Fabrizio Violati collection, we only have the photos that Unai Ona took just one year before the definitive closure of the museum and the dispersion of some of the jewels that made it up. Enjoy the ones that remain to be seen.