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How high will this Ferrari go?

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

When it comes to luxury, wealthy collectors consider more than the sticker price: The rarer the item is, the more exclusive it is and the more they want it. Proof of that may come this week in Monterey, Calif., where a rare Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta will go on the auction block.

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This rare Ferrari GTO Berlinetta will go on the auction block in California later this week. Photo courtesy of Bonhams

As part of its "Ten Important Motor Cars from the Maranello Rosso Collection," auction company Bonhams will feature the car, along with nine others, on Aug. 14 and 15.

Ferrari could break previous Mercedes record

Advance buzz around the rarest of the cars, the GTO Berlinetta, suggests its selling price could break previous auction prices and climb as high as $50 million.

The previous record for the most valuable car ever sold at auction is a 1954 Mercedes Formula 1 racer that Bonhams sold last year for nearly $30 million.

Jared Zaugg, consultant to Bonhams Motoring Department, says the Ferrari GTO Berlinetta is special because only 39 were ever made and the rarity, combined with the car's engineering and design, make it the "holy grail" of collector cars. "There is simply nothing else like it," he says.

A racing history with a practical side?

The 250 GTO Berlinetta to be sold this week is the 19th to be built, completed in September 1962. According to Bonhams, it was driven by French race car driver Jo Schlesser and French ski champion Henri Oreiller and came in second in that year's Tour de France.

The car was involved in a crash during a later race, but was saved from the wrecking ball. Fabrizio Violati, a passionate car collector and heir to his family's mineral water fortune, bought it in 1965. He died in 2010 and the family decided to sell it this year.

Although the car was designed as a race car, Bonhams notes that it is also practical, as a "perfectly civilized and road-useable shopping car." It would be interesting to see how many heads are turned if the new owner driver turned up at the local supermarket, or kids' soccer game, in this sleek machine.

Hot for retro cars? Find out the five features that buyers crave when shopping for a cool ride.

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