This 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione was one of just 14 made, and one of just nine built by Scaglietti without the louvers on the remaining five Zagato-bodied examples. But what sets it apart is its racing history. It belonged to the legendary Marquis Alfonso de Portago, a Spanish nobleman and gentleman racer who rose to celebrity status in the early 1950s. Renowned for courting both women and danger, de Portago took to motor racing in 1953, proved a quick study, and was signed by Ferrari in '56.
Portago drove this very car to victory at the notoriously challenging Tour de France, which included two hill climbs, six circuits, and a drag race over the course of six days. With his longtime compatriot and co-pilot Edmund Nelson (whom he befriended as a child living in New York's Plaza Hotel where Nelson worked the elevator) at his side, the Marquis dominated the event. So kicked off a series of four consecutive wins Ferrari would take at the famously grueling race, cementing this model's name as a result.
The duo won a number of other races in this car, which proved practically undefeated in their hands. Tragically, Portago and Nelson were killed in a crash at the Mille Miglia mere months later, putting an end to their lives as well as that of the Italian road race. The car subsequently passed through the hands of a number of notable collectors on both sides of the Atlantic, underwent a ground-up restoration in the early 1990s, and has won top honors at numerous events, including Pebble Beach, Meadow Brook, and the Louis Vuitton concours d'elegance.
It's now going up for auction for the first time in 23 years as part of RM Sotheby's array at Monterey this summer. The auction house isn't publicizing just how much it expects the prototypical TdF to sell for, but spokesperson Amy Christie revealed to Autoblog that it's "expected to fetch in excess of $11 million." Sports Car Market records a similar example sold by the same auctioneer last year for over $8 million, and another by Gooding & Company the year before that for nearly $9.5. But for what the RM describes as "one of the most important Ferrari competition cars of all time," we won't be surprised to see this storied example sell for considerably more.
- The car that instituted the iconic 'Tour de France' namesake: the historic 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione 'Tour de France', chassis 0557GT, completes RM Sotheby's finest Monterey offering to date
- Undefeated in its racing career and originally owned by the legendary Marquis Alfonso de Portago, 0557GT was the overall winner at the 1956 Tour de France Auto
- RM Sotheby's Monterey sale returns to California, August 13-15; complete digital catalogue now available online at http://bit.ly/1JjEvlv
BLENHEIM, Ontario (July 24, 2015) – RM Sotheby's has announced the historic 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione 'Tour de France', chassis 0557GT, as the final headline attraction for its flagship Monterey sale, returning to California, August 13-15.
An important piece of Ferrari history, this influential berlinetta is the actual car that instituted the 'Tour de France' nomenclature following its overall victory at that race in 1956. The announcement of its addition to RM's Monterey lineup coincides with the release of the company's complete digital Monterey catalogue, now available at www.rmsothebys.com.
"Our Monterey sale continues to raise the bar for collector car auctions year after year, and we're excited to continue the tradition next month. Our specialists have handpicked a truly outstanding roster of vehicles for this year's sale, each vetted for its correctness and authenticity – it will certainly be a great showcase of our focus on quality of product and inventiveness of presentation," says Ian Kelleher, Managing Director, RM Sotheby's West Coast Division. "We're thrilled to round out what is certainly our finest Monterey offering to date with a car of such incredible historical significance as the first 'Tour de France'-winning, Tour de France!"
The fifth of only seven Scaglietti-bodied first-series competition berlinettas, 0557GT is certainly one of the most important 'Tour de France' examples in existence and among the most historically important Ferrari competition cars ever built. Destined for the track, it was sold new to the legendary Marquis Alfonso de Portago, the flamboyant and daring Spanish driver, who, joined by his close friend Ed Nelson, entered the car in the 1956 Tour de France Auto. The event saw 0557GT routed at 3,600 miles and undertake two hillclimbs, one drag race, and six races at various circuits, including Le Mans, Comminges, Rheims, and Montlhéry. Portago and Nelson managed to win five of the six circuits, claiming 1st overall and beating both Stirling Moss's Mercedes-Benz 300 SL and future three-time Tour winner Olivier Gendebien's Ferrari 250 Europa GT. 0557GT's spectacular performance marked the first of four consecutive victories for the mighty 250 GT Berlinetta model at the French race, a foundation of its legend and TdF namesake.
0557GT is essentially undefeated in its racing career. Following its triumph at the Tour de France, Portago piloted the car to a 1st-overall finish at the Coupes du Salon at Montlhéry in October 1956, followed by a 1st place finish at the Rome Grand Prix that same year. He went on to drive the car to the top of the podium at the Coupes USA in April 1957. Following Portago's tragic and untimely death at the Mille Miglia in May 1957, 0557GT was returned to the Maranello factory and offered by the Portago family to Alfonso's friend, C. Keith W. Schellenberg, of Richmond, Yorkshire, England, who kept the car for the next two decades.
Since that time, 0557GT has passed through a well-documented chain of owners, has been the recipient of a ground-up restoration by marque specialists, and subsequently, exhibited at many of the world's leading events. It is important to note that it has never been wrecked or suffered any major damage, and remains highly original, which is unusual for a car with such phenomenal racing pedigree. In recent years, 0557GT's success on the track has transferred to the show field, with the ravishing Ferrari earning numerous awards, including at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Presented in wonderful cosmetic and mechanical condition, it is offered at RM Sotheby's Monterey sale for the first time in 23 years, where it is expected to set a new benchmark for the model. A short video of the Tour de France in action is available for viewing here: http://bit.ly/1Is2Oix (Estimate available upon request).
"The 'Tour de France' is the first significant model in Ferrari's successful 250 lineage – it predates the Testa Rossa, the SWB Berlinetta, the 250 GTO and the 250 LM, and, as such, represents an important milestone in the company's history," says Alain Squindo, Vice President, RM Sotheby's.
Squindo continues, "0557GT is part of a very exclusive group of Ferrari's most historically important individual cars, as famous designations like "Mille Miglia," "Daytona," and of course "Tour de France" were earned by singular cars that reigned victorious at those races. 0557GT therefore stands head and shoulders above its fellow stablemates, which it effectively named. Add to that the car's history with Fon de Portago, its exquisite presentation and freshness to market, and the scene is set for a very, very memorable Monterey auction."
In a year where Ferrari is set to take center stage at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, it is fitting that the TdF is surrounded at the RM sale by no less than 37 other examples from the famed Maranello marque. Among other highlights, the previously announced 1950 Ferrari 275S/340 America Barchetta, chassis 0030MT, one of nine Works-entry Ferrari barchettas of the 1950s and raced in period by Alberto Ascari, Giovanni Bracco and Gianni Marzotto (Est. $7,500,000 - $10,000,000); and, the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe 'Boano Prototype', chassis 0435GT, the fourth of nine Pinin Farina-bodied prototypes and formerly owned by racing manager, Paul Blancpain (Est. $1,250,000 - $1,750,000).
The auction will also lift the gavel on a carefully curated selection of automobiles from some of the world's other most admired marques. Additional notable entries include:
· a magnificent group of Rolls-Royces, spanning more than 60 years of production, including: the 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Drophead Coupe, chassis LELW94, one of only five built to this exceptionally rare, beautiful design and offered from long-term enthusiast ownership (Est. $350,000 - $450,000); and, the 1961 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Sedanca de Ville, chassis 54T76, the Earls Court Motor Show Car, returning to the Monterey Peninsula following a Best in Class win at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (Est. $500,000 - $600,000);
· a striking and very fast 1940 Aston Martin Speed Model Type C, chassis G40/718/U, one of only eight Type C versions, believed to be the final Aston Martin delivered during WWII (Est. $750,000 - $950,000);
· the long-awaited successor to the legendary McLaren F1, the 2015 McLaren P1, chassis 00292, finished in the desirable Volcano Red and showing less than 250 miles from new (Est. $1,900,000 - $2,100,000); and,
· for collectors drawn to celebrity provenance, a 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3/8-Litre Roadster, chassis 876032, originally owned by famed entertainer Jerry Lewis and recipient of a fresh restoration by marque specialists (Est. $325,000 - $425,000).
RM Sotheby's Monterey Sale
An institution spanning more than 25 years, RM Sotheby's flagship Monterey auction, held during the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance week, returns to the Portola Hotel & Spa in downtown Monterey, California, August 13-15. In 2014, RM's Monterey event set a new benchmark for a collector car auction, generating a remarkable $143.4 million in sales to become the highest grossing collector car auction of all time. This year's event, headlined by such vehicles as the 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Competizione 'Tour de France'; the 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight, and the incredible Pinnacle Portfolio, will feature a carefully curated group of approximately 150 blue-chip automobiles. Easily regarded the company's finest Monterey lineup to date, no less than 44 lots carry pre-sale estimates exceeding $1 million USD.