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No reserve Ferraris surprise at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba sale

Words: Nathan Chadwick | Photos: RM Sotheby’s

A factory-raced Ferrari 312PB led the feast of Maranello machines auctioned by RM Sotheby’s at its Villa Erba sale on May 20, 2023. Centred around the Aurora Collection made up largely of no-reserve Ferraris, 56 vehicles were put up for grabs on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. Some big hitters fell below the pre-sale estimate, although there were eye-widening and record results further down the lot list; the Aurora Collection’s Ferrari 550 Barchetta doubled its pre-sale high estimate. Here are the top five, plus five more results that caught the eye.

The Ferrari 312PB was chassis 0886 was one of six Scuderia Ferrari Works cars to be run in the 1972 Group 6 sports prototype championship, and made its debut at the Buenos Aires 1000 Kilometres in January 1972. Ronnie Peterson and Tim Schenken bagged the first of three pole positions at the race, before going on to take victory.

Its next races were the Sebring 12 Hours and the Monza 1000 Kilometres, with second- and third-place finishes respectively, again with Schenken and Peterson behind the wheel. Its final race was the Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres, which ended in victory and contributed to Ferrari taking the 1972 championship. In Italy, it sold for €12,042,500 against a €14m-18m estimate.

A 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta – the 62nd of 165 made, and one of the last built in the 1960 bodystyle – sold for €6,586,250 against a €7.5m-8.5m estimate, while the third of 17 Ferrari 500TR Spiders, first owned by Prince Gaetano Starrabba di Giardinelli, sold for €3,717,500 against a €4m-4.5m estimate.

The 1949 Paris Motor Show Ferrari 166MM Touring Barchetta, originally ordered by Automóvil Club Argentina, and the first Ferrari sports car winner in South America, sold for €3,750,000 against a €4m-5m estimate. Rounding out the top five was the only non-Ferrari in the top ten sales, a 1339km 2019 Bugatti Chiron, which sold for €2,817,500 against a €2.8m-3.3m estimate.

Another Ferrari caused one of the more eye-opening results of the evening – a 2001 550 Barchetta set a new record for the model. The 220th out of the 448 made, it joined the Aurora Collection in August 2001 and had covered just 901km; it sold for €635,000 against a €250k-320k estimate. The almost hallucinogenic sight of five black-on-black Ferrari Testarossa variants caught a lot of attention, and in the end the highest price went to the final, rarest version, a 1996 512M. One of just 501 built, the car was originally supplied to Germany and had covered 85,509km at the time of cataloguing; it sold for €297,500 against a €230k-300k estimate.

BMW is the driving force behind the Villa d’Este and Villa Erba events that took place during the same weekend, so it was no surprise to see special BMWs on the lot list. Five of the most extreme BMWs made for quite a sight – a 3.0 CSL, E30 M3 Sport Evolution, E92 M3 GTS, E46 M3 CSL and the latest M4 CSL.

The 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ was the third of 167 built with an upgraded 3.2-litre engine and the Batmobile bodykit. It served on BMW Germany’s press fleet and featured in the January 1974 issue of Rallye Racing magazine, before entering the long-term ownership of newscaster Jochen Breiter; it sold for €286,250 against a €180k-€240k estimate. The E30 M3 Sport Evolution, meanwhile – one of 600 built with an upgraded 2.5-litre version of the S14 engine, revised front Andrea splitters and additional brake-cooling ducts – sold for €297,500 against a €180k-220k estimate.

Keeping to the German theme, although hailing from Stuttgart via AMG, the ex-Bernd Schneider 1992 AMG-Mercedes 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II DTM racing car drew plenty of attention from around the world. It was entered in all 24 championship rounds, taking four race wins, two second places, two third places and seven fastest laps. It was then used by DTM Junior Team’s Sandy Grau in the 1993 Championship, taking a further nine top-ten finishes, including sixth at Avus, its final DTM race. It sold for €455,000 against a pre-sale estimate of €450,000 to €550,000.

More details on the sale can be found here.