Ferraris dominated the RM Auctions sale at the Monterey Car Week, with a 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale selling for a record-breaking $26.4m (£15.8m). However, in coolness terms, the 275 GTB/C was eclipsed by lot 220 – a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4.
Although the price was a more reasonable (if these prices can be classed as reasonable) $10.175m (£6.1m), this particular Ferrari was owned by the ‘King of Cool’ himself – Steve McQueen.
The 275 GTB/4 was delivered new to Steve McQueen on the set of Bullitt in 1967 and unsurprisingly led to a bidding war in the auction room. When the hammer eventually fell, the final price more than tripled the previous auction record for the model.
McQueen wasn’t originally destined to own the 275 GTB/4, having previously ordered a Ferrari 275 NART Spyder from Chic Vandagraff at Hollywood Sports Cars. However, somebody drove into the back of McQueen’s Ferrari on pretty much its maiden voyage, leading to its sale soon after the repair work was completed.
Steve McQueen had already experienced the Columbo V12 engine of the 275 GTB/4 when driving a GTS for Sports Illustrated. At the time, he noted: “With more power than mine [referring to the Lusso] and a better power arc from its six-Weber carburettors… I was pushing 140mph… it would take a lot of persuading to convince me that Enzo Ferrari can do anything wrong. To me, he is one of the finest engineers in the world.”
The RM Auctions car – chassis number 10621 – was supplied to Modern Classic Motors by Maranello on 21 November 1967. McQueen kept the Ferrari for four years, eventually selling it to fellow actor, Guy Williams.
In 1976, Williams sold the car to JP Hyan, but following rear-end damage, it sat in a bodyshop in primer for most of his ownership. By 1980, the 275 GTB/4 had 20,000 miles on the clock, suggesting McQueen and Williams got plenty of use from the car.
The car was restored by Ferrari Classiche to McQuen’s original specification in the autumn of 2013.
It was one of a string of 21 cars which made over $1m at the RM Auctions sale on Saturday, but few could match the stratospheric prices achieved by the pair of Ferraris.