It sounds silly until you realize just how much money is actually involved

One of the most expensive cars ever sold is now at the center of a lawsuit, all because of a missing part. The car in question is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, which sold for $44 million in 2017 after British classic car trader Gregor Fisken purchased it from American collector and lawyer Bernard Carl.

A transaction of that amount should’ve made Fisken and Carl friends for life, but the opposite has happened as the two heavyweight collectors are now entangled in a lawsuit involving the 250 GTO’s original five-speed manual transmission, which didn’t come with the car when Fisken purchased it from Carl. It remains unclear if Fisken is owed the original five-speed transmission, but the lawsuit has already been heard by the U.K. High Court. The judge presiding over the lawsuit is reportedly days away from making a verdict.

First World Problems

Buyer of $44 Million Ferrari 250 GTO Goes to Court Over Disputed OG Transmission
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The hobby of car-collecting can become very expensive, especially if you’re dealing with cars of the rarefied status as a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO. Millions of dollars routinely change hands in any given transaction so even the tiniest of details are taken into account.

The transaction between British classic car trader Gregor Fisken and his American counterpart Bernard Carl is a good example of the amount of money that can change hands in any particular transaction.

Fisken paid Carl $44 million for a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in 2017, and the belief is that the transaction was made with both parties ironing out every minute detail about the car.

Turns out, that wasn’t the case, and now, Fisken and Carl are embroiled in a legal battle over the 250 GTO’s original five-speed manual transmission and who would pay the $25,000 “release fee” to the holder of the said part. First world problems, folks.

The Crux of the Issue

Buyer of $44 Million Ferrari 250 GTO Goes to Court Over Disputed OG Transmission
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It’s been established that Gregor Fisken bought the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO for $44 million without the car’s original transmission.

But that’s not where the issue lies. According to Fisken, he and Carl had an understanding that the missing part would be delivered to him at a later date. That delivery never happened, and now, Fisken has taken the matter up to the U.K. High Court. A big part of Fisken’s stance is that Carl should’ve retrieved the original transmission in good faith. After all, he did pay $44 million to Carl for the 250 GTO.

Apparently, Bernard Carl doesn’t see it that way. In his mind, Fisken should’ve been responsible for traveling to California to pay for the release fee of the said original transmission. More than that, the American collector also believes that he is owed $500,000 by Fisken for locating the original transmission in the first place.

1962 FERRARI 250 GTO specifications
Engine Type 168 Comp 62 60º V 12
Engine Location Front , longitudinally mounted
Displacement 2.953 liter / 180.2 cu in
Valvetrain 2 valves / cylinder, SOHC
Gearbox 5 speed Manual
Drive Rear wheel drive
Power 302 HP @ 7,500 RPM
Torque 246 LB-FT @ 5,500 RPM
Power to weight ratio 0.29 bhp / kg
Top Speed 280 km/h / 174 mph
0-60 mph 5.4 s
Braking, 60 to 0mph 112 feet
1/4 mile 13.1 seconds @ 113 mph
Buyer of $44 Million Ferrari 250 GTO Goes to Court Over Disputed OG Transmission
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Making things even more complicated is that Fisken has already sold the 250 GTO to another buyer for an undisclosed sum. Carl believes that since Fisken no longer has ownership of the 250 GTO, any purchase agreement between him and Fisken should now be null and void.

Why is the Ferrari 250 GTO’s original five-speed manual transmission so important?

Buyer of $44 Million Ferrari 250 GTO Goes to Court Over Disputed OG Transmission
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It’s all about money, folks. This is true when you’re talking about exotic cars and the exorbitant price tags they normally go for, but it’s even more important when you’re talking about holy grail cars like the Ferrari 250 GTO. The value of a car like the Ferrari 250 GTO skyrockets to heights unseen if it comes with completely original parts. Imagine Fisken paying $44 million for a 250 GTO that didn’t have its original five-speed manual transmission. How much would he have paid for the car if the 250 GTO did come with the original part? Millions of dollars more, I imagine.

That’s the kind of money we’re dealing with.

The GTO and the original gearbox are worth more when they’re together than they are when they’re apart.

That’s why the two heavyweight collectors have found themselves in this position.

The 1962 Ferrari GTO 250 that’s getting dragged into this dispute

Buyer of $44 Million Ferrari 250 GTO Goes to Court Over Disputed OG Transmission
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This is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO that’s suddenly been thrust in the middle of this bitter dispute. It wears chassis number 3387GT and it’s one of only 36 examples of its kind in the world, making it one of the rarest cars ever built, too.

Visually, this particular 250 GTO holds unique value, in part because it’s dressed in a blue paint finish with white racing stripes running the length of its body. It’s a different color from the typical red paint that most Ferrari 250 GTOs come in. So there’s that.

In addition to its aesthetic uniqueness, this 250 GTO also has a sparkling racing history. It finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1962 and it also has 16 podium finishes to its credit from the 27 races it competed in.

The resolution

Buyer of $44 Million Ferrari 250 GTO Goes to Court Over Disputed OG Transmission
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The court case between Gregor Fisken and Bernard Carl is ongoing. There’s been no decision yet on whether Fisken is actually owed the Ferrari 250 GTO’s original five-speed manual transmission or if Carl should be on the receiving end of the $500,000 payout he believes he is owed. Fortunately, a decision is expected to be made sooner than later as the judge presiding over the case in the U.K. High Court is reportedly close to announcing the verdict.

Personally, I just wish these two would iron out their differences without having to resort to all these shenanigans. Both are clearly deep-pocketed collectors and that they’re arguing over a $25,000 release fee shows just what cheapskates they can be despite their financial wealth.

Note: Images Talacrest

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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