1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider front 3/4
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider rear 3/4
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider profile
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider above
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider nose cone pontoon fender
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider cockpit
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider dashboard nose
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider streering wheel
  • Image Credit: Christian Martin / Artcurial
Which is the most expensive car ever sold at auction? That should be a fairly straightforward question to answer, only it isn't. Due to currency fluctuations, we're actually dealing with two contenders, both of which have legitimate claims to the crown.

1962 Ferrari 250 GTOThe contenders are both classic Ferraris, each of them worth in excess of $30 million. In one corner is the 250 GTO sold at Pebble Beach in 2014 for $38 million. In the other is the 335 S sold in Paris just the other day for €32 million.

Resolving the bragging rights should come down to a simple matter of currency conversion, but the problem is that the rates don't stay constant. So the $38 million for which Bonhams sold the 250 GTO worked out to €28 million at the exchange rates of the day. At that rate, the GTO was worth a good four million euros less than what the 335 S sold for, even though today's rates value the 335 S at "only" $35 million, or a good few million dollars short of the GTO.

The answer, then, may be subject to which market you're in. But if you're looking for the tie-breaker, consider the British Pound: in Sterling, the 335 S sold for the equivalent of £24.7 million, which is more than the £22.8 million that the GTO's $38 million worked out to at the time – but less than the £26.5 million it would be worth today. And so we're back to where we started. But we're sure the confusion won't last (or be relevant) for too long, as there's bound to be another highly sought-after classic automobile on the auction block before too long. And it'll probably be another Ferrari.
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WORLD RECORD PRICE FOR A MOTOR CAR SOLD AT AUCTION*

32.1 M€ / 24.7 M£ / 35.7 M$ INCLUDING PREMIUM
LOT 170 • 1957 FERRARI 335 SPORT SCAGLIETTI DE 1957 • CHÂSSIS N°0674
FROM THE PIERRE BARDINON COLLECTION

Lot 170. 1957 Ferrari 335 Sport Scaglietti • Châssis n°0674 • From the Pierre Bardinon Collection
WORLD RECORD FOR A COLLECTORS' CAR AT AUCTION*
Sold : 32,1 M€ / 24,7 M£ / 35,7 M$ including premium
(estimate : 28 – 32 M€ / 21,5 – 24,6 M£ / 30 – 34 M$ )

*World record price for a car sold at auction, in euros and sterling.
Previous record : 28,5 M€ / 38 M$, in 2014, in the US

Paris – Friday 5 February 2016, shortly after 18h50, at the Retromobile Salon, Artcurial Motorcars, the collectors' car department at Artcurial achieved the world record for a car sold at auction, under the gavel of Maitre Hervé Poulain. The iconic 1957 Ferrari 335 S Scaglietti, from the Pierre Bardinon Collection was bought by an international bidder for 32 075 200 M€ / 24 693 782 M£ / 35 711 359 M$, including premium.

Matthieu Lamoure, Managing Director of Artcurial Motorcars declared, as the car left the stage: «This exceptional Ferrari 335 S Scaglietti #0674 has achieved the highest auction price in international history (in euros and sterling), here in France, the home of the automobile, and in Paris, the world's capital for collectors' cars during the winter season. My team and I are very proud to have put Artcurial Motorcars on the top step of the podium for auction houses worldwide ! Our hard work, which has been rigorous and extensive, has been rewarded at the highest level. We would like to thank sellers for their continued support. Vive Paris, vive l'Automobile, vive Artcurial Motorcars ! »

The room fell silent as the lights were dimmed and the car appeared on the stage, positioned in front of the podium. Matthieu Lamoure, Managing Director of Artcurial Motorcars, presented the car in English to the bidders in the saleroom, describing the history, design and extraordinary provenance of this 1957 Ferrari 335 S Scaglietti.

Maitre Hervé Poulain started the bidding at 20 millions euros. A minute later, several people in the room and on the telephone were involved and bids rose to 26 M€. It was a further ten minutes before an international bidder in the room triumphed over the only telephone bidder to remain in the battle. To loud applause, the hammer came down on the most valuable car in the world : a 1957 Ferrari S Scaglietti.

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