Rare is the classic car auction where 1950s Ferraris [NYSE:RACE] don't hit seven-figure sums these days, but an eight-figure number still has the impact to raise eyebrows. The latest to do so is a 1954 Ferrari 375-Plus, selling for $18.3 million at a Bonhams auction held at the recent Goodwood Festival of Speed.
In its day, the 375-Plus was driven by some of the greats, including José Froilán González and road-racer Umberto Maglioli. The former won a sports car race at Silverstone in 1954, beating his closest rival by over half a minute—while the car's appearances at Le Mans and on the great Mille Miglia road race around Italy only add to its value.
The "Plus" in the car's name refers to the extra 400 cc over the regular 375 racer, bringing the V-12's capacity to 4.9 liters. The unit was a stroked version of the engines used in the team's Formula One cars—and uses the single seater's transaxle too. Unlike "regular" 375s the Plus was not available to the general public until the end of its run, while each was clothed in coachwork by Carrozzeria Pinin Farina—a name familiar throughout Ferrari's history.
The car, listed under lot 320, features matching chassis and engine numbers of 0384. Racing driver and TV presenter Alain de Cadenet describes the car's driving characteristics as "docile", adding that the V-12 and transaxle layout makes it a nicely-balanced car to drive. It's "one of the great jewels in the whole history of Ferrari," he adds.
It's now one of a handful of such cars that have also sold for well over $10 million. The auction's combined total topped $38.5 million, with other highlights including a 1902 De Dietrich that hit $1.7 million, a Countach LP400 ‘Periscopio’ Coupe at $1.62 million and one of only seventy 1963 Aston Martin DB4 convertibles, which managed a winning bid of almost $1.2 million.