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Ferrari Prototypes

The sale of the Muletti

Only recently we read the beautiful story of Anatoly Arutunoff, how Enzo Ferrari had offered him a Formula 1 racing car in a personal letter in the mid-70s. 40,000 dollars, well, that was still good money back then, but it was probably the ’74 F1 that Niki Lauda had driven. Arutunoff would have had the small change, but he turned it down anyway, because he was in trouble with another Ferrari at the time. Yes, he regrets it.

And what are we trying to say? Ferrari, it seems, has always sold its own treasures. Probably also because they never afforded their own museum – “il Commendatore” was a miser by the book, he once said that he would never buy a Ferrari, they were far too expensive for him. But making money out of everything that didn’t grow on trees was certainly his thing. It was – and apparently is – good business. But also one that should be conducted with absolute discretion. You buy, enjoy – and keep quiet. That’s why we’re a little surprised now, because four prototypes are going under the hammer at Mecum in mid-August that probably never sought this publicity.

What we do know: Mister V. was able to buy three prototypes of the LaFerrari, M4, MP1 and PS1. And in addition a prototype of an F12tdf, MP4. We are still trying to find out exactly how he got them, but we do know that he offered them for sale as a package. And asked a lot, a lot of money for it. A Swiss dealer would have been prepared to dig deep into his pocket, but whenever an agreement was reached, the owner’s greed got a little bigger. It is said to be an Australian who already pulled out a rough shoe in the art business because he pretended to be the artist he was supposed to represent (name known to the ed.).

It’s the “three Ds” that rule the business in really expensive cars: Death (clearly), Divorce (can be very expensive) – and Distraction. The latter can be interpreted positively: you’ve lost the desire, got yourself another hobby or a fresh mistress. But it can also be quite different: one is “distracted” by other construction sites. For example, by holes in the petty cash that have to be plugged immediately. In any case, Mister V. with his four Ferrari prototypes was very, very poor overnight, so poor that the vehicles had to be impounded (it could have been because he very, very suddenly no longer had a good name in the art business). And now, via a financial institution involved, which is probably moderately pleased, they are going under the hammer at Mecum. The fact that the vehicles are only being sold with a “Bill of Sale” suggests that there is one and also another formality that has not been fulfilled. It is also a good question whether the vehicles are in the USA at all, because a very well-known English Ferrari dealer is also involved in the whole story.

This may be a stroke of luck for all those who have the money to get their hands on one of the four prototypes (or even all of them) and have everything neatly sorted out. They won’t have much fun with the Ferrari, though. Each of these “muletto” can be driven, but not on public roads, only on the (own) race track. There are the corresponding certificates from Ferrari Classiche, but in this case they are not worth the noble paper they are printed on (as is so often the case). Oh yes, the term “muletto” also goes back to Ferrari, because there is the unpleasant story about the very first car, the 125 from 1947, which most probably received a new chassis number and a new body at a later date. When the customer held the invoice in his hand and saw what the car he had bought as new really was, he is said to have exclaimed: “Muletto!”

But that is not really the point at all, but: What drove and drives Ferrari to flog these prototypes? In Enzo’s case, it was clear that this was how he financed his beloved racing. But why do the Italians today give away three (or even more) prototypes of the LaFerrari, which actually belong in a museum, because they can wonderfully show the technical development of this model? Does the avarice of “il drago” still reign in Maranello? And almost even more interesting: What have the Italians sold off?

Just recently, a LaFerrari prototype was already on the market, M6, offered via RM Sotheby’s, but at an estimated price of 1.4 to 1.8 million, it did not sell (pictures above). In 2017, RM had already sold #194925 at auction in Maranello, the LaFerrari that served as an exhibit at the factory. And not drivable. But it still sold for well over 2.1 million dollars (pictures below). In 2007, on the occasion of the “Leggenda e Passione” auction in Maranello, an F40 prototype, a 288 GTO prototype and a Pininfarina design model went under the hammer, probably directly from the factory.

Interesting is also the story of one of the three prototypes of the Ferrari 365 GTB/4, chassis number 11001, which had probably been sold by the factory to the American importer Luigi Chinetti long before the presentation of the “Daytona” at the Paris Salon in October 1968. An exciting car, still very 275 GTB/4 at the front (from which the engine also came), but almost 365 GTB/4 at the rear. Chinetti sold the “Muletto”, bought it back later, exhibited it at the New York Auto Show in 1970, sold it again. The car later stood for many years in the Turning Wheel Collection of the Stieger family – and will be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in Monterey in mid-August (no estimated price yet). So if you have a bit of savings, you can buy five Ferrari prototypes on the Pebble Beach weekend – that’s a good basis for a very special collection.

Photos: RM Sotheby’s, Mecum. Of course, we have many other (classic) Ferraris in our archives.

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