Very conspicuous consumption

I was mind-boggled to read that a 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti has sold for a stratospheric price at the Artcurial 2016 Retromobile vehicle auction in Paris.

A 1957 Ferrari driven by the great British motor racers of the 1950s broke the record for the world’s most expensive racing car sold at auction after fetching just over €32 million [about US $35.7 million] on Friday.

Despite the stratospheric price at the Artcurial auction in Paris, the buyer cannot use the vehicle on the roads as it was designed purely for racing.

Only four Ferrari 335 S Spider Scagliettis were ever produced, and this one had been in the hands of a private French collector for more than 40 years – hence the feverish excitement at the Rétromobile classic car show in Paris, where the auction took place.

The previous record for a racing car was for a 1953 Mercedes W196 racing car driven by Juan Manuel Fangio, sold for £17.5 million Bonhams auction at Goodwoods festival of speed in July 2013.

. . .

The sale – precisely €32,075,200 – was fresh proof that Ferrari auctions are going stratospheric, with a particular penchant for late 1950s and 1960s models, seen as hailing back to the golden age of motor racing.

Other highlights of the Artcurial sale still up for auction was the last ever 250 GT SWB Berlinetta, made in 1963 and estimated at £6.8 million to £9.1 million. An ex-Gianni Agnelli 1986 Testarossa Spider meanwhile sold for twice its estimate at €1.21 million.

There’s more at the link.

Being a supporter of individual freedom and the free market (and, as a former pastor, of religious freedom, of course), I have no moral or ethical problem with someone enjoying the fruits of their labors, and spending all they like on something they want.  Nevertheless, I can’t help feeling sad to know that so much money has been spent on something that’ll end up as rust and scrap metal in due course.  At any rate, I suppose the old question, “But is it art?” has been decisively answered by the buyer – with his wallet!



  1. Economic warning? The last time classic car and art auctions went nuts like this, it was just before the 2000 tech crash.

    That is, to my eye, the prettiest car ever made.
    Back when racers had curves, and were mercifully free of a wall of advertising.

  2. It is amazing that there are that many people with so much money they can pay that much for a given car. It took at least two people to bid it up, so at least one person said "enough".

    Have you been to a firearms auction lately? The scale is somewhat smaller, but there are a lot of well heeled firearms collectors out there as well.

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