With an estimated auction price of $30 to $34 million, the Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti could become one of the most expensice cars in the world

In the early days of Ferrari being a carmaker in addition to a racing team, cars were evolving so quickly that Ferrari would end up developing two different cars just for the 1957 Mille Miglia. The first of these was the 315 S, built at the beginning of 1957. But Ferrari was unable to make it all of the way to the Mille Miglia in May without fiddling with it, and the 335 S would end up being brought out before the race. Both cars are in fact evolved versions of the 290 MM, and cosmetically they are practically identical.

The 335 S has a bit of a dark history. When it raced at the 1957 Mille Miglia, a blow tire caused one of the car to careen off the road and into a crowd of spectators. The driver, co-driver and 10 spectators (5 of them children) were killed in the crash. With this accident coming just two years after the even more horrific 1955 Le Mans disaster, public outcry shut down the race after 1957, making the 335 S the last Ferrari build specifically for this event. But despite the grizzly association, the 335 S is today one of the most valuable cars in the world.

Updated 02/08/2016: The highly anticipated auction of a 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti finally went down, and true to form, it fetched an incredible amount that even surpassed what auction house Artcurial Motorcars Retromobile thought it would go for. Valued between $30 to $34 million, the 335 S sold for a staggering $35,711,359 - making it one of the most expensive Ferrari in history.

Note: Image credit: Artcurial Motorcars / Christian Martin

Continue reading to learn more about the 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti.

  • 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti
  • Year:
    1957
  • Make:
  • Engine:
    V12
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    390
  • Displacement:
    4.0 L
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti High Resolution Exterior
- image 662933

By the time the 335 S was built, Scaglietti was the coachbuilder of choice for Ferrari’s body manufacturing. Road cars were usually designed by a third firm and build by Scaglietti, but when it came to race cars, Scaglietti handled the design as well. The signature “headrest bump” in the bodywork on the 335 S and pretty much all racing Ferraris during this period was the idea of Sergio Scaglietti. The bodywork is fairly minimal, it being purely functional, but ’50s Italian race cars still always manage to look good, even if that wasn’t the original intention.

Interior

1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti High Resolution Interior
- image 662931

Obviously, there really isn’t much of an interior on the 335 S, as it was never intended for road use. There are technically two seats in the car, since cars in the Mille Miglia would usually carry co-drivers, but this area was often covered for aerodynamic reasons when the car was racing with only one occupant. As is generally the case with these kinds of roofless racers, there is nothing in the car that isn’t strictly necessary. That wasn’t always the case with the homologated cars, but it is here.

Drivetrain

1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti High Resolution Exterior
- image 662937

The engines in the 290 MM, 315 S and 335 S were all smaller versions of the 60-degree V-12 then being used in the Ferrari Formula 1 cars. There was a 3.5-liter version in the 290 MM that produced 320 horsepower, a 3.8-liter version in the 315 S that made 360 horsepower, and the 335 S had the biggest and most powerful on the non-F1 versions, a 4.0-liter that produced 390 horsepower. Those power numbers are all obviously pretty big for engines of those displacements in the mid-’50s, but that’s because these were racing engines, and the 335 S hit peak horsepower all of the way up at 7,400 rpm. It wasn’t usable as a road engine because it ran so rich that keeping it at idle or even what would be considered normal engine speed in traffic for too long would foul the plugs. Of course, this wasn’t a completely unknown problem on Ferrari road cars either, but it was even more true of the race cars.

Prices

1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti High Resolution Exterior
- image 662938
Artcurial is estimating it to be worth between $30 million and $34 million.

It was the 315 S that won the Mille Miglia in 1957, but the 335 S is the car with the story attached to it. And even if it is a dark history, the car that brought about the end of the Mille Miglia is still a big deal, and its estimated auction price is definitely reflected in that. The car is being auctioned at Retromobile next month in Paris, the same event that previously saw the auctioning off of the awe-inspiring barn find that was the Baillon Collection last year. The 335 S going up for sale is part of the collection of Pierre Bardinon a one-time fanatical collector of Ferrari road and racing cars. It’s said that once, when Enzo Ferrari was asked why there was no Ferrari collection at Maranello, he replied “no need, Bardinon has done it for me.”

Some seriously valuable cars are going up for auction as part of this collection, but the 335 S is by far the most valuable. Artcurial is estimating it to be worth between $30 million and $34 million. That puts it only slightly behind the most valuable car ever sold at auction, a Ferrari 250 GTO that went for $38 million. But cars like these exceed estimates all of the time, such as the 250 GT SWB California Spider that was part of Baillon Collection that sold for several million above the high end of Artcurial estimate. So next month we could very well see a new record set for the most expensive car of all time. A pretty exciting prospect.

Competition

Maserati 300S

1956 - 1958 Maserati 300s
- image 44546
Maserati 300s

The 300S was a bit of a disaster when it first debuted in 1955, but by 1956 it had been sorted out and the wins started rolling in. Like the 335 S, the 300S was based on a Formula 1 car and engine. But when Maserati modified the car for road racing, it made the engine bigger instead of smaller. It was still smaller than the big Ferrari V-12s though, and the Maserati finished the 1957 Mille Miglia in 4th place. Of course, that was still pretty far ahead of quite a few other Ferraris.

Read our full review here.

Porsche 550

Like the GT3 of today, the 550 provided a relatively inexpensive and easy way for privateer teams to get their hands on a factory ready race car. The 550 was frequently able to outrun any number of cars with much bigger engines. It was a staple of racing during the ’50s on both sides of the Atlantic. And if you like a bit of morbidity with your collector car, the actor James Dean famously met his end behind the wheel of his 550.

Read our full review here.

Conclusion

1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 662934

The reason usually given for ending the Mille Miglia is that the cars had become too fast for the race to be conducted safely anymore, pretty much the same reason given for ending Group B several decades later. So think of the 335 S as the proto version of that monstrous Group B machines, something wind and untamed, too fast even for the lunatics that took part in the unbelievably dangerous would of auto racing in the ’50s. In this context, the price might start to make a bit more sense, although it is still a fairly unreal sum.

  • Leave it
    • * You can’t afford it
    • * The history is pretty grim
    • * Not exactly comfortable, or at all easy to drive
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