Steve McQueen's Ferrari sells for $2.3 million

Rare sports car, owned and raced by the actor, auctioned for twice its estimated value.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- A Ferrari sports car, once owned and raced by the actor Steve McQueen, sold for $2.3 million, twice its originally estimated auction value, at a Christie's auction in Monterey, California.

McQueen purchased the car, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso, in 1963. Only 350 cars of this type were produced. McQueen kept his for a decade, trading it away in 1973.

Steve McQueen and his first wife, Neile Adams, with the Ferrari.
The 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso

"It's a stunning car. It's a stunning result," said Christopher Sanger, head of Christie's car sales for the Americas.

McQueen ordered the Ferrari in a medium reddish-brown metallic color with a beige leather interior. Car restorer Michael Regalia returned the car to its original appearance.

If the car had not been owned by McQueen it would probably have been worth $600,000 to $800,00, said Sanger.

"They're terrific to drive, they're easy to drive, they're beautiful to look at," he said.

Prior to the auction, Christies had estimated this particular car's value at $800,000 to $1.2 million.

Christie's had marketed the car heavily, Sanger pointed out, which might have helped raise the ultimate selling price by bringing it to the attention of well-off potential buyers.

"Not only is this model Ferrari one of the ultimate '60s classic car icons, but Steve McQueen is the symbolic driver of such cars," said Charles Dupplin, head of art and private clients for specialty insurer Hiscox, in an e-mail. "The dream provenance. [$2.3 million] does not feel expensive to me."

McQueen, who died in 1980, was an avid auto racer and often performed his own stunts in his movies. In his 1968 role as Lt. Frank Bullitt in the namesake movie, he drove a 1968 Mustang through San Francisco's hilly streets in a now-iconic chase scene.

Celebrity ownership does not usually double or triple the value of a car, though, said McKeel Hagerty, president of collector car insurer Hagerty Insurance. (The one exception, he said, would be ownership by Elvis Presley which would increase the value of nearly anything.)

"Auctions can occasionally bring out flukey purchases," Hagerty said. Top of page