The Story of the $20 Million 1964 Ferrari 250 LM That Was Never Seriously Crashed

1964 Ferrari 250 LM 25 photos
Photo: RM Sotheby's
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"They don't make cars like they used to," they say. And it is the truth, of course they don't. But there was a time when making cars was just about spectacular silhouettes and powerful engines. The times have changed.
Cars are now digitally designed. They are thrown into wind tunnels. They are slammed against rigid barriers that put their safety to the test. And they are packed with cameras and sensors, they get electrified and downsized. Engineers overcalculate, double check, triple check, quadruple check as if it's OCD they're fighting. But, hey, this is 2023. And we want our cars to be faster, safer, stronger. Where does that leave design? Well, it goes back to the 1950s and '60s, when cars were – above all – beautiful.

And this 1964 Ferrari 250 LM is just like that. The 250 LM is part of the all-time greatest Ferraris trilogy with the 250 GTO and the 250 Testa Rossa. Only 32 examples were ever built. And right here, we've got the 22nd of them.

In the 1960s, in Maranello, they wanted a car that was more solid than the 246 SP race cars powered by a V6 enine. That is how they started considering a rear-mounted V12. It was early 1963 when chassis number 0796, originally a 246 SP, got a 3.0-liter Colombo short-block engine tuned to Testa Rossa specifications. It was a prototype that previewed the 250 P, the base for the 250 LM berlinetta, with a roof made by Sergio Scaglietti's carrozzeria. LM stood, of course, for Le Mans.

The Ferrari 250 LM's rough road to racing 

Chassis number 5149 made it to the Paris Salon in November of 1963. It looked exotic. It screamed performance. It seemed to have it all. But then FIA refused to homologate the model, since Ferrari had built fewer than the 100 examples required for the homologation. Enzo Ferrari was furious. So furious that he temporarily resigned his entrant's license in protest.

This car, chassis number 6053, finished in Rosso Cina over seats in Bleu cloth upholstery, was delivered to Colonel Ronnie Hoare's Maranello Concessionaires in October 1964. It was sold new to British driver George Drummond, and he was not going to keep it in a garage. He took it racing and, in February 1966, entered it in the 24 Hours of Daytona. In lap 90, due to a gearbox failure, the Ferrari 250 LM had to retire. But later that year, it finished 3rd in class and 8th overall at the Austrian Grand Prix.

1964 Ferrari 250 LM
Photo: RM Sotheby's
Next year, it would race in several competitions in Africa. Drummond sold it to Paul Vestey Racing in May 1968. He took it to Le Mans to replace chassis number 6167, driven by David Piper. During the legendary Targa Florio, a steering arm came loose and sent the car over a hillside. It was damaged beyond repair. Just the engine and transaxle were salvaged. The two of them would be transplanted into the 250 LM berlinetta.

Then the car was painted in dark blue with a white stripe and ready to race. Wearing race number 19, the Ferrari qualified for Le Mans in the 32nd position. On Saturday, it climbed up six places. But Vestey lost control in the Arange Corner, and the car went straight to the repair shop for some minor damages to the rear end. It returned to the race track in the 46th place. With Roy Pike behind the steering wheel, it crawled back up to the 31st place. But 99 laps into the race, and the gearbox failed. The race was over. Only 14 of the 54 cars on the grid managed to finish it.

How precious is the Ferrari 250 LM?

Finished was the 250 LM's racing career in Europe as well. The Ferrari was sold to Richard Merrit of Bethesda, Maryland, in April 1969. He didn't keep it for too long. The other owners did not either. In the 1990s, it arrived in Japan, and the one who pampered it for 24 years was collector Shiroh Osaka. He sold it in 2018 to a respected collector. In 2021, it ended up in the miraculous hands of the Ferrari Classiche experts, and it underwent comprehensive restoration. The model still retains the engine and transaxle of chassis number 6167, as raced at the Le Mans in September 1968.

1964 Ferrari 250 LM
Photo: RM Sotheby's
The Ferrari 250 LM also sports six huge Weber 38 DCN carburetors, alloy Borrani wire wheels, and now, the Rosso Cina paint over the Bleu cloth upholstery.

Right after the restoration, it was exhibited at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the 2021 Ferrari Finals at Mugello, and the Enzo Ferrari Museum in Modena. It is one of the few examples to have never suffered a significant crash, which makes it ever more precious. How precious? RM Sotheby's is taking it to the Monterey Auction in August and hopes to fetch between $18,000,000 and $20,000,000. That precious.
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