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It is easy to become jaded by how much money the mega-rich spend. It is also difficult to understand just how rich these select few really are. While we can recognize that spending $1 million on a car– even one as nice as a vintage Ferrari – is wild, we know that people do this relatively often. Cue up the cynicism. However, there have only ever been 64 cars that sold for $10 million. That’s still a lot, but the number drops significantly if you bring that price up to $20 million. Only 15 cars have ever hit over $20 million – rarified air, indeed. The most expensive car of all time went a bit above $20 million. A 1964 Ferrari 250 LM nearly joined the 20-mil club last week but came up a touch shy at the last minute.

What makes the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM so special?

After the golden boy of the Ferrari stable  – the Ferrari 250 GTO – the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM took up the factory racer mantle. Ferrari only ever made 32 examples of the race car. 

So the car is crazy rare from the jump, but that’s not all the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM that recently sold had going for it, not by a long shot. 

Rarity matters. It matters a lot even. However, condition is the dominating factor that determines collector car values, and the 1964 Ferrari 250 LM that just crossed the block at Artcurial last week had it in spades. It’s certainly valued among the most expensive cars. Unlike any of the other LMs Ferrari made, only two were never raced, this one and one other. The Ferrari LM that just sold was a factory original new race car that had never seen the dangers of the track. 

New Atlas tells us this car joined Luigi Chinetti’s N.A.R.T (North American Racing Team), and it went to the Daytona 24-Hour Race in February 1966, all dressed up and ready as the spare car, but wasn’t needed. After the race, the car, unused and full of race potential, was sold. 

This is a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM in red with white racing stripe.
1964 Ferrari 250 LM | Courtesy of Artcurial

How much did the vintage Ferrari 250 LM sell for? 

Artcurial still has the car on the site, and below the listing in fine, modest lettering. The page reads, “Sold: 15,771,200 €.” On this side of things, that is $16,867,298. 

It is hard to imagine that kind of money for most people. Many people in America can’t afford a $50,000 car. This Ferrari costs roughly the same as 325 2023 BMW X3s. But let’s get back to the Ferrari. 

While the amount of money is staggering, the Ferrari is about as perfect as perfect can get. Due to its sideline hero status, it maintains all of its original panels, wheels, brakes, paint, and everything. Everything is original. It doesn’t get better than this, particularly for a world-class race car in the golden age of one of the most famous and influential carmakers in the universe. 

Because of all of these details making me stammer on, the seller fully anticipated the car to pop into the coveted $20-million club. Could you imagine getting $16 milli and being disappointed? Wild. 

It would have sold for $20 million, but didn’t quite earn status as one of the most expensive cars…

Ferrari 250 LM
Ferrari 250 LM | Courtesy of Artcurial

While it may seem insane to turn down money like that, the vendor selling the Ferrari turned down a $ 20 million bid in February to wait for an auction closer to Le Mans – a race one of the 32 LMs won in 1965. 

As we now know, unfortunately, turning down that $20 million bid would cost the owner roughly $4 million bucks. The vintage Ferrari race car sold for just over $16 million. Even though this model didn’t join the club of most expensive cars, I wouldn’t suggest feeling bad for the seller, but it must have smarted a little to lose that much bread. I guess there’s a lesson in there to be learned if you care to see it.