Never meet your heroes, or so we are told. Their legends are built on the sides that point out to the world, not those that point into their hearts. But if you were offered a drive in a Ferrari 250 GTO, especially at Goodwood, where it won races, would you turn it down? Me neither.
Long before RM Sotheby’s smashed every automobile auction record by selling a 1962 250 GTO for $48.4 million (£37.7 million – including fees) at its Monterey sale in California on August 25, I would contend that particular combination of numbers and letters were more likely than any other to set fluttering the hearts of car enthusiasts around the world, and working out why is easier than you might think.
For any car to become a classic it must first select as many qualities as it can from a menu of attributes. Being beautiful is a fine place to start and if it can be wonderful to drive too, so much the better especially if it can be used on both road and track.
The whole game moves on to a different level if the car is also very rare and up another notch or two if it can contrive to be interesting or somehow important. Beyond that the only way to build its legend still further is to be in possession of both a successful competition history and a revered badge on its elegant snout.