At this weekend's Goodwood Festival of Speed auction, a 1945 Ferrari 375-Plus racer went under the hammer for $18.2 million.
That remarkable price makes the car the third most expensive car of any shape, form or description ever sold at auction, the second most expensive Ferrari ever to go under the hammer, and the most expensive pure racing car ever built by the company.
Known as "The Fearsome Four-Nine," the car boasted the biggest and most powerful engine -- a 4.9-liter V12 -- that Ferrari had ever conceived when it was revealed by the company's works racing team in 1954. Driven by a roster of legendary racing drivers, including Umberto Maglioli and José Froilán González in events including Le Mans and the Mille Miglia, the car very soon became legendary.
That legendary status, coupled with its rarity -- only five racing cars were built and this is believed to be the only surviving example -- clearly helped to drive the bidding forward and help it to go for an eventual £10.7 million including buyer's premium at the Bonhams sale. Interestingly, it was at the same Goodwood sale in 2013 that a new world record for a car sold at auction was set -- the 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater, driven by Fangio, which sold for a remarkable $29.65 million (€22.7 million).
And while the Ferrari 375-Plus falls somewhat short of the Mercedes' final price, it is still enough to make it comfortably the third most expensive car ever sold at auction, behind a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider, sold for $27.5 million (€20.35 million) in 2013 and ahead of the 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype which went for $16.39 million (€12.13 million) in 2011.
At $18.2 million the car is also the most expensive to be sold in 2014, however, there's a good chance that it won't hold on to that record for the duration of the summer. In August, a Ferrari 250 LM (one of the rarest and most desirable of all Ferraris) plus a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 once owned by Hollywood legend Steve McQueen are both set to go under the hammer. And both could very easily set new records.
However, for the time being at least, this is how the top 10 stands:
1. 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula 1 Single-Seater $29.65 million (€22.7 million)
2. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider $27.5 million (€20.35 million)
3. 1954 Ferrari 4.9-litre 375-Plus Competizione $18.2 million (€13.44 million)
4. 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype - $16.39 million (€12.13 million)
5. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Carrozzeria Scaglietti $14.3 million (€10.58 million)
6. 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Berlinetta 'Competizione' $12.8 million (€9.48 million)
7. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa $12.4 million (€9.17 million)
8. 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster $11.77 million (€8.7 million)
9. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione $11.2 million (€8.3 million)
10. 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racing Car $11 million (€8.1 million).