RM Sotheby’s has announced the addition of a 1956 Ferrari 290 MM with a significant motorsport pedigree, for its Petersen Automotive Museum Auction on December 8. Campaigned by Scuderia Ferrari for the 1956 and 1957 seasons, the fully matching-numbers, Ferrari Classiche-certified racer was piloted by an amazing assortment of factory team drivers including Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, Peter Collins, Wolfgang von Trips, Olivier Gendebien, Eugenio Castellotti and later, Sir Stirling Moss, in some of the most prestigious race events in the world. The consignment of this car follows RM Sotheby’s world record for the most valuable car ever sold at auction, set when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for $48.4 million in Monterey earlier this year.
The 290 MM was developed by Ferrari to contest the 1956 World Sports Car Championship and the Mille Miglia, hence the MM initials, and to reclaim dominance over past and present competitor—Mercedes-Benz—and its great domestic rival, Maserati. For Enzo Ferrari, this was just as important as his efforts to win the Formula One World Championship. Chassis no. 0628, set for RM Sotheby’s Petersen Museum sale, was the fourth and final example ever built. Equipped with an all-new powertrain, composed of the Tipo 130 V-12, 3,490-cc engine, with highly developed cylinder heads, high-lift camshaft, bigger valves, twin spark plugs, 9:1 compression ratio and dry sump, coupled with the Tipo 520 transaxle, the 290 MM was the car to bring the manufacturer title back to Maranello for the third time. Bodied by Scaglietti, the 290 MM is a truly impressive, brutal, and beautiful machine, and is estimated to achieve $22 million to $26 million in Los Angeles this December.
In serving for the Scuderia Ferrari team, the racing history of this 290 MM speaks for itself. At its debut in the 1956 Mille Miglia in 860 Monza specifications, chassis no. 0628 finished 2nd overall while wearing number #551, piloted by Peter Collins and Louis Klemantaski. In the same year, Olivier Gendebien and Hans Hermann took the car to 4th at the Targa Florio in Sicily, while Umberto Maglioli finished in 2nd place with the car in the XVIII Aosta-Gran San Bernardo Hillclimb, also in Italy. The legendary Fangio raced the car in the Swedish Grand Prix just months later. Upgraded to 290 MM specifications by the factory in 1957, its remit outside Italy extended as Alfonso de Portago, Wolfgang von Trips and Eugenio Castellotti finished 3rd in the 1000km Buenos Aires, and two months later the car entered the 12 Hours of Sebring with Phil Hill and von Trips at the wheel.
Next, under private ownership, Sir Stirling Moss slid behind the wheel at the 1957 Bahamas Speed Weeks and drove the car to victory in both the Memorial Race and the Nassau Trophy Race. The car spent the next five decades in America, first earning multiple podium and first-in-class finishes at a variety of national races between 1958 and 1961, and then spending time in several highly notable private collections. From there, chassis no. 0628 was sold to a collector in England in 2008 and driven in the Tribute to Juan Manuel Fangio Parade during the Goodwood Revival in 2011. Later that year, it was passed to its current owner, before undergoing a full, concours-quality restoration by Ferrari Classiche in Italy to its 1957 12 Hours of Sebring configuration, the final race it entered as a Scuderia Ferrari Works car.
“We’re delighted to bring this highly significant Ferrari 290 MM to our Los Angeles auction,” said Augustin Sabatié-Garat, Auction Manager, RM Sotheby’s Europe. “The 290 MM is certainly one of the most important Ferraris to grace the halls of the renowned Petersen Automotive Museum and will be right at home in an auction set to present some of the most notable moments in motoring history across numerous categories. The car represents the golden age of the sports two-seater, having taken part in some of the most famous races ever held. Moreover, the sheer number of legendary drivers who have been at the helm of this car make it truly remarkable. The opportunity to acquire a proper Scuderia Ferrari works barchetta in the realm of the 290 MM, 315 S, or 335 S rarely ever comes along in such exceptional form.”
The Ferrari 290 MM leads an anticipated 40 eclectic, highly desirable automobiles set for the Petersen Museum sale, representing a cross-section of significant eras and categories in collectible cars.