As Jay Leno once said, buying a Ferrari is like going to a dominatrix. They may kick the crap out of you, but some people like that. In other words, the marque may make you jump through hoops and buy entry-level cars you don’t particularly want before they offer up their top-tier machines, but some car collectors prefer the thrill of the chase.
But sometimes, no amount of money, passion or persistence will get you the luxury car you have your eye on. Case in point: Ferrari’s iconic Testarossa from the ‘80s and early ‘90s wasn’t offered to normal buyers as a convertible. It didn’t exist as an option at all. But there were a few custom spider variants made over the years for those with the right credentials, including Gianni Agnelli (chairman of the Fiat Group, which at the time owned Ferrari) and the royal family of Brunei.
Then, when the 512 TR, the Testarossa’s successor, came along in the early ‘90s, the model once again went under the knife for the most exclusive of buyers. While there were more than seven Testarossa Spiders made for the Brunei royals and a handful of other clients, in 1994, Ferrari produced a limited run of just three 512 TR convertibles — and one of them is heading to auction through RM Sotheby’s.
The 1994 Ferrari 512 TR Spider, which will hit the block at RM Sotheby’s London sale on November 4, is part of the Factory Fresh Collection. The auction house bestowed this group of 17 Ferraris, two Jaguars and a Bentley with that name because many of them have hardly been driven — this Ferrari has just 570 kilometers (354 miles) on the odometer. The bias towards Maranello is because of the fact that these vehicles represent “a single-owner collection from a Singapore-based enthusiast who also served as the official Ferrari importer for the region.”
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In the listing for the vehicle, RM Sotheby’s identifies this enthusiast as Alfred Tan of Hong Seh Motors, Ferrari’s official Singaporean dealership. According to the auction house, Tan coordinated the production of the Testarossa Spiders for the Brunei royals, which led to him being offered one of these 512 TR convertibles a few years later.
“In 1994, Ferrari built three units of the 512 TR Spider and offered two units to Alfred Tan, which he bought,” RM Sotheby’s writes in the listing. “One was sold to a French CEO while this stunning example, finished in Blu Cobalto, was retained.”
“In 1997, Mr Tan was invited by Ferrari to display chassis 97310 at the 50th Anniversary of Ferrari in Rome,” the company explains. “Chassis 97310 arguably presents the only opportunity to own a special limited production Spider variant of the Ferrari 512 TR, with just three built by the factory and the other two not in circulation. Owned and cared for by the man who helped create such a rare beauty, this Blu Cobalto example would be the centrepiece of any aficionado’s collection, and is sure to draw attention wherever it goes, be it the concours lawns or open roads.”
To buy a Testarossa or 512 TR Spider brand new, you needed to be royalty — actual royalty, or royalty at least in the world of Ferrari. Now, anyone with enough money in the bank can pick this one up: the auction estimate is £2,100,000 to £2,700,000, or about $2,600,000 to $3,350,000.
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