Ferrari Shines at RM’s Scottsdale Auction

Ferrari’s classic sports cars were again the main attraction at the annual RM Auctions event in Arizona.

RM, the largest auto auction company by sales, brought a total of 21 Ferraris to the auction. The top seller is expected to be a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM that is offered in original condition and a rich history of racing.

Those characteristics make the 250 LM a unique car to cross the auction block, and it’s projected to earn a winning bid between $9.5 million and $12.5 million Friday.

“Everyone understands Ferrari. A large portion of that is because the Ferrari brand is successful today, so it’s really easy to associate with Ferraris,” Max Girardo, RM’s head auctioneer and managing director of RM Europe, said when asked about Ferrari’s popularity at auction.

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It’s no surprise that Ferrari continues to fetch top dollar at auction. The overall U.S. collector car market set a new record in 2014 at $1.3 billion in sales, and much of the credit goes to Ferrari.

In August, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO set a worldwide auction record with a $38 million haul at a Bonhams auction in Monterey, Calif. According to Ferrari, nine of the 10 highest grossing cars at auction donned the famous Prancing Horse logo.

Ian Kelleher, senior car specialist and managing director of RM’s West Coast division, said it’s hard to see Ferraris generating as much cash as they are today. But he also noted that individual cars with a special history, like the 250 LM and its career with Swiss racing team Scuderia Filipinetti, are in a league of their own.

“Within the industry, I don’t think many of us see it going much further,” Kelleher explained. “There are certain models, such as the Ferrari 275 GTB/4, that have really come up in value to a very high level."

Kelleher cited the 1967 example formerly owned by actor and racer Steve McQueen, saying the car’s unique line of ownership made it a big seller. McQueen’s 275 GTB/4 sold for about $10.2 million during RM’s 2014 Monterey auction.

The company’s Arizona sale, which is one of several large auctions that are held each year in and around Scottsdale, kept up the pace of Ferrari sales. The 250 LM was joined by a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS, one of only 20 made. There’s also a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider that RM called the best example of its kind.

Ferrari’s owner, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (NYSE:FCAU), plans to spin off the Italian sports car maker into a separate public company later this year. Much speculation has focused on a possible increase in production beyond Ferrari’s current annual output of 7,000 vehicles, while FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne has said Ferrari can maintain its exclusivity if it chooses to make more cars.

The debate over expanding Ferrari’s production reflects the passion that many owners and collectors have for its cars. That passion, as well as a commitment by Ferrari to build on its history, drives excitement for Ferrari sales at RM’s auctions, Girardo said.

“Ferrari invests in their old cars. They’ve got a museum. They want to teach the people about their past. They’re using names for cars now like the 599 GTO, which comes from a car in the past,” he added. “So all that helps make it easily accessible for a lot more people.”