With the notable exception of homologation specials, classic race cars don’t usually sell for really noteworthy sums of money. This is partly because they often aren’t street legal, and also because they simply don’t offer the glamour or good looks of high-end sports or grand-touring cars. So when a race car does sell for several million dollars, it’s the sort of thing which gets our attention. At RM Sotheby’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Italy, a 1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta race car went for $7.5 million, a huge sum of money for anything, but especially a race car.

Though Enzo Ferrari had been involved in car making and racing for many years prior, the company as we know it today has only existed since 1947, so this 212 Export is a very early model. It is a rare model, with only 28 units made, and even the 212 Inter (the road-going model that the racer is based on) only had 82 units produced. And this particular car is a matching number example that is Ferrari Classiche certified.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

At his period in automotive history, the line between race cars and road cars was still a bit hazy, though not nearly as much as it had been before WWII. So even though they shared many components, Ferraribuilt the 212 Inter and 212 Export to serve different functions, and the racing version even had a slightly shorter wheelbase. But both cars used the same 2.5-liter version of the Colombo V-12, which here makes 160 horsepower. As with other early Ferraris, the “212” in the name represents the engine’s unitary displacement, meaning 212cc per cylinder.

The car has since been going back and forth between Europe and the U.S. between different owners, and got its first complete restoration in 1973.

The 212 Export first debuted in 1951, but largely lived in the shadow of the bigger and more powerful 340 America, which both debuted and won the Mille Migla that same year. This specific 212 Export participated as an “also ran” in a number of different races at the hands of its first owner Baron Luigi Chiaramonte Bordonaro. But the Baron did manage a couple of wins, at Coppa dei Templi and the Passo di Rigano-Bellolampo Hill Climb before selling it to a Swiss man who raced it at the Mille Migla in 1956 before retiring the car after that year.

The car then went to the show circuit surprisingly quickly, being shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1965, where it also took second place at the same event the following year. The car has since been going back and forth between Europe and the U.S. between different owners, and got its first complete restoration in 1973.

The car is so valuable partly because of its rarity, partly because of what good condition its in, but also in a large part because it is eligible for so many historical racing events. Many of these such events only allow models which had competed in those events when they were new, the Mille Miglia being a prime example. And since the 212 Export competed in many of these events, its new owner will be able to run it almost anywhere he pleases.

Jacob Joseph
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Press Release

RM Sotheby’s, the official auction house of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, continued its strong sales run in Italy last night, realizing a fantastic €26,714,530 in sales* ($29,920,273 USD) at its exclusive Villa Erba auction on the shores of Lake Como, Italy. Presenting spectacular cars in a spectacular setting, the evening sale saw 34 / 39 lots sold before a packed house, with numerous lively bidding contests erupting during the two-and-a-half hour sale.

1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta Auctioned For About $7.5 Million Exterior
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The first European auction held by RM since it announced its strategic partnership with Sotheby’s in February, the auction captured the attention of the global collector community with bidders hailing from 26 countries, including Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Hong Kong; 27 percent of bidders represented first time clientele.

"We had another incredible collection of cars on offer at Villa Erba. It’s always a stylish and well-attended sale; the setting, the atmosphere and the quality of vehicles we consistently consign to this auction make it a clear highlight of the European auction calendar," says Max Girardo, Managing Director RM Sotheby’s Europe. "From the auction preview through until the end of the sale, the energy was fantastic and translated into some great prices. It’s a great honour being the official auction house of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este."

Proving that cars with exceptional history and unquestionable provenance continue to lead the market, top sales honors went to a historic 1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta, chassis 0158ED. A spectacular early racing Ferrari, bidding on the Touring-bodied Barchetta opened at €3 million before quickly climbing to an impressive final €6,720,000, smashing the previous auction record for the model. It led a string of 10 individual million-euro-plus sales recorded during the course of the evening, each celebrated with a round of enthusiastic applause from the audience.

Girardo adds, "The Ferrari 212 Export embodies the kind of quality we aim to bring to our sales and its world record-breaking price demonstrates the enduring strength of the auction market."

1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta Auctioned For About $7.5 Million Exterior
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The sale also underlined the continuing rise of the ’modern era’ supercars with an incredible ’full house’ of ultimate Ferraris selling very strongly and each achieving seven figures. It is rare to be able to offer all the classic Ferrari hypercars in one auction, so the collection garnered significant interest and highly spirited bidding. Highlighting the group was a 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO, the spiritual successor to the 250 GTO, which sold for an exceptional €1,904,000, while the 1991 F40, one of the most celebrated high-performance supercars ever built, sold for €1,008,000. The group also included a 1996 F50 for €1,232,000 and a 2002 Enzo for €1,260,000. Proving that it’s not just Ferraris that collectors queue up to buy, the car which many regard as the world’s first true ’supercar’, the 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 S, also attracted significant interest, garnering a strong €1,019,200.

Among other notable sales:
· a stunning 1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 SS Villa d’Este Coupe, the epitome of sporting elegance and perfectly matched to the Villa d’Este weekend, sold for an above-estimate €784,000;
· a striking ’pistachio green’, Ferrari-powered 1974 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale, the first automobile purposely built for competition in the World Rally Championship, realized a strong €431,200;
· a two-owner 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB HGTE, confirmed its status as a certain future collectible, exceeding estimate at €358,400;
· a 1959 Riva Florida "Nounours", delivered new to screen siren Brigitte Bardot, also exceeded expectations at €146,250; and,
· the generously donated BMW K1 motorcycle, which sold with 100 percent of all proceeds benefiting Caritas International in support of earthquake relief in Nepal, found a new home for €10,530, at least double its market value.

1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta Auctioned For About $7.5 Million Exterior
- image 631652

RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba Million-Euro Sales
Lot 110 – 1952 Ferrari 212 Export Barchetta - €6,720,000
Lot 120 – 1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L Berlinetta ’Lusso’ - €2,016,000
Lot 105 – 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO - €1,904,000
Lot 133 – 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II - €1,568,000
Lot 107 - 2002 Ferrari Enzo - €1,260,000
Lot 108 – 1996 Ferrari F50 - €1,232,000
Lot 132 – 1953 Fiat 8V Cabriolet - €1,120,000
Lot 129 – 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 S - €1,019,200
Lot 106 – 1991 Ferrari F40 - €1,008,000
Lot 112 – 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Sport Lightweight €1,008,000

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