Ferrari's Best for Last
The first car in a series is good. But the last car is best. A real, documented and important history makes it better. Commercial success is good, but success in competition is better, and the overall winner of the 24 Heures du Mans is the best of all.
The expression of all these attributes is the 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM, chassis number 0808. The only 4-liter Testa Rossa built, it is also the last Testa Rossa and the last front-engined sports racing car built by Ferrari. Driven by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien, it is the last front-engined car to capture the overall victory at Le Mans.
Restructured rules and classifications for 1962 placed emphasis upon GT cars and eliminated the 3-liter sports-racing class the Testa Rossas had dominated. The displacement limit for GTs was increased to 4 liters and a new Experimental category was added with a 4-liter displacement limit. Ferrari's current sports-racers were by now mid-engined and V6 or V8 powered, but Ferrari decided to create the ultimate Testa Rossa for the Experimental category, the 330 TRI/LM.
Fantuzzi created the longer body, which Phil Hill described in a Road & Track article as "&a combination of the old Testa Rossa shape, but with the double nostril nose and the cutoff tail-with-a-spoiler that were used on the mid-engine cars." He continued, "Testa Rossas were the reason Ferrari was able to dominate sports car racing in much of the world, and produce some of the most beautiful sports racing cars of the postwar era. In 1962& the TR lineage was about to end and the 330 [TRI/LM] became the last Testa Rossa. Seen from that view, the big car's lines look even better, flowing yet tough, the graceful shape only interrupted when necessary by an air scoop, a bonnet handle or a leather strap, &the rounded looks-good-to-the-eye shape of the '50s ending at the scientific cutoff Kamm tail of the '60s."
Following Le Mans, the 330 TRI/LM was sold to Luigi Chinetti's North American Racing Team and on to Don Rodriguez. Having seen the car's success firsthand, he was determined to put Pedro in it for the North American season. N.A.R.T. returned to Le Mans with the 330 TRI/LM in 1963, where it ran in third until after midnight, when the engine threw a connecting rod.
The damaged 0808 was sent back to Ferrari, where it was rebodied, first as a spider and later with a unique coupe body. Shipped back to the United States, it was sold to Hisashi Okada, who drove the TRI/LM for nine years on the streets of New York before succumbing in 1974 to the entreaties of Pierre Bardinon.
Bardinon restored 0808 to its 1962 Le Mans configuration, commissioning original coachbuilder Fantuzzi to recreate its work of 1962. Completed to a very high standard under the supervision of the experienced staff at Bardinon's Mas du Clos collection, it took its place among a peerless collection of some of the world's finest Ferraris.
Since being acquired in 2002 by the present owner, 0808 has led an active life as part of a small, exclusive collection of the finest and most important sports and sports-racing cars. It is quite simply the most important Ferrari ever offered for public sale.
The SCM Analysis
This car sold for $9,281,250 at RM's Leggenda e Passione Auction in Maranello, Italy, on May 20, 2007.
The $9 million-plus sale of Testa Rossa #0808 was the highest price ever paid at auction for a Ferrari and narrowly missed the record for the most expensive car ever to sell at an auction. It is the fastest Testa Rossa, a Le Mans winner, the last Testa Rossa, and the end of the line for front-engine sports racers, yet it sold a couple million dollars short of the upper end of earlier vintage Testa Rossa values. Was the car undersold? The first time RM declared #0808 the most important Ferrari offered for public sale was at its August 2002 Monterey auction. When the dust settled after that auction, the car changed hands for $6,490,000, an incredible amount of money for a Ferrari at the time. It was big news and gave high-end buyers confidence to write big checks.
330 was on his dream list
The buyer at that sale was the seller at this sale, and I had a chance to ask him why he bought #0808. His candid reply was that as a kid, he had a dream list of cars he would like to own, and a Testa Rossa was one of the cars on the list. He said he had not necessarily had his sights on this Testa Rossa, but the opportunity came along at the right time so he bought it. I didn't ask what else was on his list, but since both this car and Carroll Shelby's personal Cobra Daytona Coupe have graced his garage, it's a good bet there are few spots for tick marks left on the list. During the four years he has owned the car, he has driven it over 7,000 miles. It has been a participant in everything from the Copperstate 1000 to local events. It often went for weekend drives and I wouldn't be surprised if it made a few trips to the drive-through window.
Under Luca Di Montezemolo's leadership, Ferrari has metamorphosed from a small manufacturer of sports and racing cars to one of the world's most admired lifestyle brands. You can find their name on licensed products from tennis shoes to barometers. They produce events for their customers like the Ferrari Challenge Series and the recent 60th Anniversary Concours. They conduct impressive driving schools for their clients and host a popular web site specifically for Ferrari owners. Most recently, Ferrari has introduced the Ferrari Classiche program, a factory-based restoration and certification program for classic Ferraris.
Part of the objective of this program is for Ferrari to become more involved in the ownership experience. One of the ways to do that is an auction of classic Ferraris. Sotheby's was chosen as their partner and in June 2005, the Sotheby's at Ferrari Auction was held at Maranello, the first ever classic event to be held at the factory. While brilliant in concept, the event was less than stellar. Bad timing meant it attracted few real buyers, and those who did show up found the presentation of the vehicles imperfect. This car was consigned to the ill-fated auction, where it was listed as a no-sale at $8,050,000, a number probably enhanced by a favorable tailwind courtesy of the auctioneer.
Sales exceeded early 1990s levels
Failure is not an option at Ferrari, and for 2007, the auction was revamped. RM was chosen to sell the cars and the auction format was changed to allow better presentation of them. RM's comprehensive mailing list and advertising reached the right buyers. Also, Ferrari Classiche inspected and certified the cars before the auction. The results were nothing short of spectacular, with a 97% sale rate and many sales exceeding the highest sales of the early 1990s.
#0808 was the feature car at the auction, and it did not disappoint. But the buyer didn't stop with this TR; he apparently bought two more high-end Ferraris, spending nearly $20 million on the afternoon. The three are rumored to be headed to a museum in Argentina, where it's a fair bet #0808 will not be making Starbucks runs anymore.
So if the high end of Testa Rossa values is upwards of $10 million, was there money left on the table? While #0808 has plenty on its side, it also has a few warts. For years it was branded as having been built on the modified chassis of Testa Rossa #0780TR. The motor had been called into question, and it has been rebodied three times. Ferrari cleared up the chassis issue with an invoice showing that a new chassis was constructed especially for #0808 and also certified the motor as original, but the rebody still hurts the car.
More serious to the value is its age. As a 1962, it is not Mille Miglia eligible and at events like the Monterey Historics it will have to run with '60s era cars rather than other Testa Rossas. Then there's the golden rule of collector cars: Looks sell. #0808 is no slouch in the looks department, but next to a pontoon fender TR it just falls short--maybe a couple million dollars short. #0808 may be the most important TR, but it's not the most valuable. Then again, at $9.2 million, it's not far behind. When and if a 250 TR comes up for sale, we'll find out just what the gap is.