There are few greater displays of conspicuous consumption than at Monterey Car Week where Bugattis and McLarens and Porsches are more ubiquitous in parking lots than Toyota Camrys and Kia Souls. The owners of these cars are often here to spend even more money on cars to add to their collections. But there was perhaps no sign of greater excess this past week than the purchase of the crashed and burned remnants of a 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider for a whopping $1.9 million dollars at the RM Sotheby’s auction. To put things in perspective, a Ferrari Mondial from that era sold for $4 million in 2019. Or you could get seven brand new Ferrari Romas for every day of the week.
$1.825 million was the exact sale price, which was well above the $1.2 million dollar estimate. Why so much? There’s provenance and a story behind all of it. Inside a barn in Florida in 2004, 20 Ferraris were discovered including this particular Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider. It’s an ultra-rare care–only 13 are in existence and this was the second one ever built.
In 1954 Enzo Ferrari sold this Mondial to Franco Cornacchia, a car dealer in Milan, who raced this car under his own team with one of Ferrari’s first factory drivers, Franco Cortese. Cornacchia sold the car in 1955. It spent time racing for a few years before it reached the U.S. in 1958 where it would continue to be raced. In 1963, the inline 4 cylinder would be replaced by a good ol’ American V8. And then it crashed and burned. The remnants of the car was then resold in 1970s and ultimately ended up in the barn of Walter Medlin with several other Ferraris, a real estate agent who had some trouble with the IRS. A few were seized by the IRS. The rest got auctioned off by RM Sotheby’s over the weekend.
Perhaps more significant than this story is that this wreck still includes the actual VIN, meaning that, at an enormous cost, it could be rebuilt by Ferrari. And if it does, it could automatically enter the famed Mille Miglia race, whose qualifications for participation have become stricter over the years, focusing primarily on cars from the period that it was a bonafide competitive race.
Will the owner choose to fully restore it? Or preserve it in its current state? Either way, there’s no doubt that it will still be desirable in any form it may take, as long as you’ve got the spare millions.