Ex-works Ferrari 375-Plus to auction for $30m at Bonhams?

Bonhams has announced that it will sell an exceptional example of the historic 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in June, with the motor looking to break 2013's auction record.

Ferrari 375-Plus Bonhams
The 375 could beat the record for any car sold at auction, and may even encroach on the $52m private sale record set by a Ferrari 250 GTO in November

The Ferrari 375-Plus, serial number 0384AM, is the first of only five ever built by the Scuderia Ferrari works racing team, and was "entrusted only to the bravest and most skilled racing drivers of the day". Today, only four models remain, and three of those are firmly embedded in the collections of billionaires such as Ralph Lauren.

Following a long and mysterious dispute over its ownership which Bonhams has now helped to settle, one of the partial claimants to model 0384AM's parts, Christopher Gardner, expects the car to achieve between $25m and $30m, according to an interview with USA Today.

That top price would beat the auction record $29.6m seen by Juan Manuel Fangio's Mercedes-Benz W196 at 2013's Goodwood Festival of Speed. As USA Today notes, the car is "equivalent to a work of art, both as an investment and a possession."

The car has had several owners over the years, and disappeared in 1989, mysteriously reappearing in Europe with a clear title of ownership. The result was a perplexing legal battle, following which Gardner commented:

"This is probably the rarest Ferrari in the world. Certainly, certainly the most valuable stolen car in the world. This is the missing Holy Grail. It's the preservation of a true artifact."

The 375-Plus was designed to win the 1954 Sports Car Championship, boasting a 4.9-litre V12 engine producing 330bhp - the largest built by Ferrari - and lightweight Pinin Farina alloy bodywork. It saw outright wins at Le Mans and Silverstone, as well as being driven to victory by Umberto Maglioli in the five-day Carrera PanAmericana in Mexico, with an average speed of 107mph.

The example at auction was driven by Maglioli in the Mille Miglia, and saw victory at Silverstone in the hands of Argentine racer Froilan Gonzalez. Its final outing for the factory team was in the 1954 Le-Mans 24-Hour race, where it was co-driven by Maglioli and Paolo Marzotto.

Although restored recently, many of its original parts will be included alongside the car, including the original body panels, which still feature traces of the 1957 Cuban Grand Prix race colours.

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