Surviving a historic crash almost 60 years ago, this steering wheel comes from a 250 GTO worth over $40 million.
The first two things that come to mind when mentioning Ferrari are fast and expensive, but these descriptors are not as closely linked as you may expect. The most expensive cars in the world are all Ferraris, and it isn’t because they are fast. They may have been fast in their respective era, but the newest models keep getting faster and the vintage models keep increasing in value. Some say, the next 250 GTO that sells may break $100 million. This all helps to explain why a man is selling a Ferrari steering wheel for $1 Million.
The Million-Dollar Steering Wheel
The Market for Ferrari Parts and Collectibles is probably larger than the market for just cars. For one thing, there are far less cars and thus less buyers, and there are far more Ferrari fans that can afford a model than the real thing. That doesn’t mean that Ferrari parts or collectibles are cheap, just cheaper than entire automobiles. And the fact that there is a blurred line between parts and collectibles is indicative of the high-value market. For example, some people have taken old, broken, or otherwise useless parts and made collectibles out of them. Why? Well, they came from a Ferrari! And then of course there is this million-dollar steering wheel, which is clearly a part, but as it stands separate from the car, the wheel now acts as a valuable collectible. This does not explain the valuation of the rare piece, though.
You might think that if a person has enough money to buy this steering wheel, then they have enough to buy a whole car, but remember this came out of a car speculated to be worth around $100 million now. So while the buyer can afford a brand new F8 Tributo, it is possible that the person buying the rare steering wheel can’t buy anything else of greater significance from that specific car that also costs less money. But is the steering wheel worth 1% of the total value of the car? Well, let’s compare it to another Ferrari and see how it fares.
250 GTO 3851GT With Replacement Wheel
First of all, modern steering wheels are extremely complicated. Not only have materials changes, but now we have air bags and electronics as well. So while you can find a modern Ferrari steering wheel for under a thousand dollars, it will be naked, having no buttons or airbag. A fully sorted wheel for a 458 often comes with the steering column as well, considering all the parts involved, and it runs around $4,000 (some more, some less) on eBay at the time of writing this. According to Hagerty Valuation Tools, the average 2013 458 Coupe is around $160,000 so the steering wheel and column are worth 2.5% of the car. This is not far from 1% but it is also more than double 1%, so that pesky math doesn’t tell us much. But it does seem that a more advanced modern steering wheel setup would be of greater value in proportion to the total car value than just a wooden and metal wheel. It also follows that just the leather and carbon infrastructure of a modern wheel would be closer to 1% value of the whole car. So maybe this million-dollar wheel seller is onto something?
Of course, none of this discusses why the value of the 250 GTO is so high to begin with, and much of the reason applies to wheel if not more. The most valuable Ferraris almost without fail have a racing background, specifically from the era in which Ferrari dominated practically everything it entered, the early 1960s. This specific story of this steering wheel is it came from a 1962 250 GTO that was crashed during the Coupe du Salon at the Linas-Montlhéry Autodrome on October 7th of the same year. The Steering wheel was perfectly intact, but unfortunately the driver, Henri Oreiller, later died in the hospital. He was a gold-medal winning olympian skier, and a veteran of WWII, serving in a specialist skiing unit in the French Alps, who had retired from skiing to race cars. The Ferrari had a tire blowout at 100mph and the car flipped. It was later restored and sold for a record-breaking $38 million at Bonhams in 2014 (without the original steering wheel).
The Ferrari crash, RIP Mr. Oreiller.
So considering the era, the car, and the man that once sat behind the wheel, this steering wheel is much more than a part. Hell, it’s even more significant than most other collectibles. And since we are throwing numbers around, who’s to say that the wheel isn’t worth more than $1 million? Some people have suggested to reunite the wheel with the car, which seems logical, but it almost takes the essence away from what the wheel has become since its time away from the car. Personally, I think it means more to a true Ferrari enthusiast as a separate piece of history. What do you think?