1956 Ferrari fetches $28 million at NYC car auction

NEW YORK: A 1956 Ferrari sold for $28 million at an auction that also featured top bidding for Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche, a 1963 Pontiac owned by Roy Rogers decorated with silver dollars and guns and a kid-sized Ferrari.

RM Sotheby's offered the vintage cars in its "Driven by Disruption" sale Thursday night.

The 1956 Ferrari 290 MM, chassis 0626 was built for Formula One racing legend Juan Manuel Fangio. The car was specially designed for the five-time F1 world champion and was one of only four 290 MMs to be built. It has never crashed despite a racing career that lasted until 1964.

The $28 million to $32 million pre-sale estimate made it one of the most valuable cars to come to auction. A Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta that sold for $38.1 million at Bonhams in 2014 holds the record for any car at auction.

Fangio, an Argentinian considered one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time, raced the 3.5-litre, V-12 engine car in the 1,000-mile Mille Miglia event, finishing fourth overall in a race that wound through Italy.

The red car with a blue nose competed in many other classic races.

In 1957, legendary drivers Eugenio Castellotti, Luigi Musso and Masten Gregory drove it to victory in the Buenos Aires 1000 KM.

RM Sotheby's says it was purchased in 1957 by enthusiast Temple Buell who continued to enter it into races around the world with Jo Bonnier and Gregory behind the wheel.

It eventually was acquired by collector Pierre Bardinon and remained in his renowned Mas du Clos Collection in France for nearly 34 years before being acquired by the current owner, identified only as a private European collector.

Meanwhile, Joplin's wildly painted 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet fetched $1.76 million, well above its top estimate of $600,000. The counter-culture relic was featured at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland for the last two decades.

It was sold by her family, which has owned it since 1973. The singer bought the white Porsche used for $3,500 in September 1968 and got a friend to customise it with a psychedelic mural that includes her astrological sign, Capricorn, and a scene of northern California. She drove it regularly until she died of a drug overdose in 1970. The 4-speed manual transmission vehicle was given a meticulous restoration in the early 1990s.

A 1963 Pontiac Bonneville designed by Nudie Cohn, owner of Nudie's Rodeo Tailors in Hollywood, and owned by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, sold for $308,000. It had been estimated at $250,000 to $350,000. The unique design features a hand-tooled leather interior decorated in genuine silver dollars, handguns and a saddle mounted between the two bucket seats adorned with silver, rhinestones and silver dollars.

And for the small child who has everything, the auction had a fire-engine red Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa. The children's car, built in 1985, sold for $89,000. It seats two small passengers and features a wooden steering wheel, leather upholstery and working lights.