Stunning Ferrari 290 MM sells for $22million

13th December 2018
Goodwood Road & Racing

It might have fallen $6 million short of a sister car, sold in New York three years ago for $28million, but the sale at the weekend of the latest Ferrari 290 MM to come under the hammer shows the Italian marque’s grip on the collectors’ car market to be stronger than ever.


One of three surviving 290 MMs and a car driven in period by an exceptional rollcall of the world’s best drivers, the 1956 ex-works Scuderia Ferrari car is the seventh Ferrari to join the top 10 list of the most expensive cars ever sold at auction. Ferrari now has a pair of 250 GTOs, a pair of 275 GTBs and two 290 MMs in the list, along with a 335 S.

RM Sotheby’s did the deed at its sale at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles on Saturday, December 8th. Including the premium, the car sold for US$22 million (£17.3m). RM Sotheby’s also sold the last 290 MM to come up for sale three years ago: a car made for Juan Manuel Fangio to drive in the ’56 Mille Miglia, that machine made $28m.

Fangio was fourth in that race whereas the car in the latest sale, driven in the MM that year by Peter Collins, came home second. To begin with it was fitted with the 3.5-litre four-cylinder Monza engine but, as a Ferrari team car, was later fitted with a variety of powertrains including the V12.


And it was successful too with an extraordinary succession of driving talent to take its wheel not just in the MM but also the Targa Florio, Nürburgring 1,000km and Buenos Aires 1,000km, Sebring 12 Hours, as well as the Swedish Grand Prix of ’56 where it was driven by Fangio. Other famous pilots over the car’s racing career included Alfonso de Portago, Olilvier Gendebien, Hans Herrmann, Phil Hill, Wolfgang Von Trips and Dan Gurney.

After 1957 the by-now famous sports racer was sold to a private team and, with the V12 now under the bonnet, it was despatched to Nassau for Bahama Speed Week. The car was entrusted to Sir Stirling Moss. He had never driven a 290 MM before and didn’t favour the central accelerator pedal, so the team changed it for him. Whereupon Sir Stirling led from the start to win the Nassau Trophy and the Memorial Trophy.

With its Scaglietti coachwork, the 290 MM is a beautiful thing, and utterly evocative of Ferrari’s golden age of 1950s sports racing barchettas. That was something captured by the photographer Louis Klemantaski who wielded his camera from the passenger seat of this actual car when he partnered Collins in the ’56 Mille Miglia. The car will also be familiar to Goodwood regulars for its appearance at Revival in 2011 to mark the centenary of the birth of Fangio.


Since then the Ferrari has been restored by Ferrari Classiche in Maranello to its 1957 12 Hours of Sebring livery. All its engine and gearbox numbers match and it wears its original body. No surprise then that with this history and in this condition, a car so storied and rare – there were only ever four 290 MMs, three of which survive – is a superstar. It has been on display in both the Ferrari Museum in Maranello and at the Casa Enzo Ferrari in Modena.

Altogether an exceptional piece of motor racing history – let’s just hope that under its new custodian we see plenty more of it, including at Goodwood again.

Photography by RM Sotheby's.

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