A classic Ferrari has become the most expensive car ever sold in Britain after changing hands for a record-breaking £24 MILLION.
The Ferrari Testa Rossa is hailed as one of the most beautiful sports cars of all time.
And this 1957 model, which was the second prototype built, has a stellar racing history having competed twice at Le Mans while winning a number of high profile races.
This includes the very important 12 hours of Sebring whilst being piloted by legendary American F1 World Champion Phil Hill.
Derbyshire dealer Tom Hartley Jr, who bought the car from businessman Eric Heerema, today revealed he had now sold the Ferrari but wouldn’t confirm the exact selling price.
However, the anonymous buyer is rumoured to have paid in excess of $40 million (£24.1m) – making it the most expensive car ever sold publicly.
This tops the £22.5 million paid in 2012 for a Ferrari 250 GTO.
The Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa achieved the record figure because of its looks, racing pedigree, rarity and the fact is in “unmolested” – completely original – condition.
It is a 300 per cent increase on the #8 million paid for a Ferrari 250 TR in 2009, representing the staggering position of the classic car market.
Another Ferrari 250 TR was sold in 2011 at a US auction for £10 million ($16.4 million), however, they were both much inferior examples to the model Hartley has just sold.
The HAGI index, which tracks the market, estimates the classic Ferrari market has increased by more than 400 per cent over the past decade.
This has seen savvy investors and car collectors ploughing their cash into the classic market which is seen as safer, more profitable and more enjoyable than stocks and shares.
And Mr Hartley has been responsible for a number of very big sales within the industry recently.
This included a unique Ferrari 250 California Spyder and a Mercedes W125 Grand Prix car, with the latter previously owned by Bernie Ecclestone.
The specialist dealer, who sold his first supercar at the age of 11, was delighted after sealing the deal on the Testa Rossa.
He said: “I can confirm that the car has sold, although due to client confidentiality we will not disclose the buyer or the price achieved.
“This Ferrari is without question one of the most important cars on the planet if not the most important because of its originality.
“While I won’t go into the terms of the sale, I am sure it will prove to be a great investment for the new owner.
“Now it is done, my only disappointment is the fact I don’t think it can ever be bettered as I truly think it is the greatest car in the world.”
The Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, which is Italian for ‘red head’, is powered by a 3-litre V12 engine which develops 300bhp – a staggering figure in its day.
This gives the road-legal race car a 0-60mph time of around six seconds and a top speed of 167mph.
It was the second prototype and factory team car for two seasons with Ferrari then making a further 19 customer cars.
Marcel Massini, a Ferrari historian with an encyclopedic knowledge of the famous marque, described this exact model as “one of the top five Ferraris on the planet”.
He said: “It is so valuable because it is totally unmolested and not restored, genuine and very original. It also comes with a fantastic history which is most important.
“I believe the Ferrari market will continue to go up as more and more wealthy people need to reinvest their cash but there are not many more top quality cars available.
“It’s simple supply and demand. Classic cars as hard assets are just one of several asset classes nowadays.”
The Ferrari Testa Rossa sold by Mr Hartley caused as storm when it arrived on the race track in 1957.
Known as chassis 0704, the Testa Rossa was bodied by the legendary Sergio Scaglietti and was known as one of his favourite designs.
At the 1957 Le Mans race the Ferrari ran as high as second position but did not finish the race.
The following year saw Ferrari achieve plenty of success with this particular 250 Testa Rossa playing a vital role.
The factory cars won four of the six races to secure Ferrari’s third consecutive World Sports Car Championship for Constructors.
Chassis 0704 picked up two wins – the 1,000km Buenos Aires and 12 Hour Sebring races – with Phil Hill and Peter Collins behind the wheel in both races.
The car was later sold to a US customer and was driven to victory in 16 races on the other side of the Atlantic.
In 1967 the car was donated to the Ford Dearborn Museum where it stayed for 30 years.