Chassis number 0666 TR was the model for all future Testa Rossas, making it invaluable to classic sports car collectors. Making its racing debut at the Nürburgring 1000km, it retains the original V12 engine used to power it around the circuit.
The previous world record for a Ferrari was set by another 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa at RM Auctions in 2009. That led a passionate collector to part with $12.4m - but it was not the original.
"Being in the presence of the 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype is a visceral and breathtaking experience unlike anything I've ever known," commented David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding, ahead of the auction.
Indeed there was a palpable feeling of excitement in the air as the 0666 nonchalantly cruised into the auction hall. Bidding was rapid, and the two year old world record was broken in a matter of seconds.
There was a burst of applause as the hammer came down, with the final price hitting $16.39m (including premium).
All in all, the Gooding auction sold more than $41m in classic cars, including three other 1950s Ferraris which raced past the million-dollar mark (and might have been the headline in another auction).
These were a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California which brought $3,355,000, a 1953 Ferrari 375 Vignale Coupe which chased down $2,200,000 and a 1956 Ferrari 275 GTB which reached $1,001,000.
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