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At $173K per horsepower, the Ferrari 250 GTO becomes the most expensive car ever sold

Vintage Ferraris, as it turns out, are recession proof, which is a good thing to keep in mind the next time you plan to make an automotive investment.

And what’s the pinnacle of the Ferrari market? Why it’s the the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO. How much might a ’63 GTO fetch. Well, one has just sold for $52 million.

The car, covered in the ever-so-appropriate Competition Red paint, was owned by Greenwich, Connecticut-based collector Paul Pappalardo and sold to an unidentified buyer, Bloomberg reports.

The transaction price is 49 percent higher than the last record holder, another 250 GTO that changed hands last year.

The GTO is considered ‘the ultimate car’ by collectors, with owners (including Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason) reportedly receiving typical offers in the $40 million to $50 million range.

So what makes this car so desirable?

First, it’s rare: only 39 250 GTOs were made. Each was hand-built, making each example that much more distinctive from the rest.

Legend has it that Enzo Ferrari commissioned the GTO as a response to the Jaguar E-Type. That would explain the Prancing Horse’s fabulous shape, another aspect of its charm.

The GTO also has a racing pedigree. The initials stand for Gran Turismo Omologato, which roughly translates to “race homologation special.” This particular car, chassis 5111 (car pictured above has a different chassis number), won the 1963 Tour de France road race.

There’s also a lot of magic attached to the GTO name, which is why Pontiac stole it for a GTO of its own – and why Ferrari used the name to sell limited-edition 599s. There’s something about the 250 GTO that just makes it better than other Ferraris in eyes of fans.

Still, $52 million is a lot to pay for a car.

Earlier this year, a 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM Pinin Farina Berlinetta “Competizione” sold for about $12.8 million at auction. It was the second most expensive car to be sold at an auction; beaten only by a 1957 250 Testa Rossa that sold for $16 million in 2011.

Other examples of absurdly expensive collector cars include a 1967 Shelby GT500 Super Snake Mustang that sold for $1.3 million at auction this past May, and an original Batmobile from the 1960s television series, which crossed the block at $4.2 million.