BBC Autos

Most fascinating classic, 2013: Ferrari 180 Testa Rossa

About the author

Deputy editor of BBC Autos, Jonathan was formerly the editor of The New York Times' Wheels blog. His automotive writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Details, Surface, Intersection and Design Observer. He has an affinity for the Citroën DS and Toyota pickup trucks of the early 1990s.


Competition for the must-have toys of the holiday season is always fierce. Nothing, however, matches the tug-of-war for a one-of-a-kind confection.

Granted, the Ferrari 180 Testa Rossa sold at auction in November was thought to be one of five in existence, but for all intents the bidders at Sotheby’s New York were pursuing a once-a-lifetime opportunity.

And pursue they did. Bidding quickly eclipsed the $50,000 low estimate for the .3 horsepower, 12-volt children's car, before bogging down. Just as the auctioneer began to scan the room at $70,000, the chase resumed. Bids piled up in $5,000 increments. As the price passed $100,000, there was a collective gasp from the 500-strong room. Gavel price, $110,000; final price after commission, $126,000.

Sold in the late 1950s through Ferrari’s only North American dealership, the toy had just attracted the kind of money that would have otherwise secured a Nissan GT-R, an Audi R8, a Jaguar XKR, a Porsche 911 4S or a Maserati GranTurismo. But as the winning bidder knew, exclusivity has its price.

Read more about the Ferrari 180 Testa Rossa here.

Second Opinion

1940 Buick Phaeton from Casablanca


The 1940 Buick Phaeton is not the swiftest or most beautiful car of its era, but one particular Phaeton – the car that rolls into the famous final scene of Casablanca, carrying Bogart, Bacall, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains, captures the imagination like no other. Offered in a Bonhams auction in November, it sold for $461,000, including premium.