Jo Schlesser Ferrari makes history at $38 million

Ferrari may hold a lot of records but they just broke another one this week with the most expensive car ever auctioned selling at USD $38,115,000. The history of this car is what makes it such a gem in that it was originally built—only 39 of the GTO made—and delivered to Jo Schlesser.

The French driver would eventually become a Formula 1 driver and tragically die at the 1968 French grand prix in a magnesium-bodied Honda car. The combination of burning magnesium and a full fuel tank meant that Jo had little chance of survival such were the flames and heat. Honda left the sport after the incident and when John Surtees refused to drive the car for safety reasons.

The car was the 19th Ferrari GTO to be completed and invoiced by the Maranello factory, having been signed-off initially there on September 11, 1962. Since two of the preceding examples had been 330 GTOs with 4-litre engines instead of the GT-homologated 3-litre ‘250’ units it may be regarded as the 17th 250 GTO.
It was finished in metallic pale grey with lengthwise red, white and blue centerline stripes and was collected by Jo Schlesser.

Schlesser entered the car in the annual Tour de France Automobile, run that year from September 15-23. Schlesser was to co-drive the car with his 36 year-old friend Henri Oreiller. While Schlesser was then building his reputation as a leading French circuit-racer, the Parisian Oreiller was already a national celebrity. He had been a member of the French Resistance during the Second World War, and took up competitive skiing after 1945. He was nicknamed the ‘Parisian of Val d’Isere’ or ‘The Madman of the Downhill’ and – representing France in 1948 at the first postwar Winter Olympics in St Moritz – he won two gold medals and a bronze, to become the Games’ most successful athlete.

At Montlhéry Autodrome in the October 7 Coupes du Salon race meeting poor Henri Oreiller crashed fatally. The car was badly damaged after hitting a trackside building, and a mourning Jo Schlesser returned it to the factory for repair to as-new condition and subsequent re-sale.

The car would eventually end up in the hands of Fabrizio Violati who would own the car for 49 years and tis single ownership history for that many years makes it very special.

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