Rare Ferrari F50 turns up wrecked in salvage yard bidding battle

14 October 2013

The mania for classic Ferraris that's made them the most valuable cars in the world has trickled down in recent years to a select few of the automaker's more recent vehicles. For example, the F50 supercar, of which only 349 were built back in the 1990s, have seen their prices skyrocket, with one selling for $1.7 million in August. Which makes this example seem like a steal at just $103,000 — although its location in a Connecticut insurance salvage yard and the details surrounding its arrival there have raised Ferrari aficionados' suspicions.

When there's ony 349 copies of a particular car, their owners and whereabouts tend to be well known, and in the case of Ferraris even the VIN numbers are often kept track of over the decades after passing through auctions. This particular F50 had more fame than most; sold for $528,000 in 2002, it had been the recipient of a new 4.7-liter V-12 from the factory after its original 513-hp unit went to the scuderia in the sky. Of the 56 F50s built by Ferrari for the United States, this one was the final one, and only one of two in black. And its more recent owners hadn't been shy about public demonstrations of its potential, as caught in a number of online videos like this one:

The first word of its demise came after salvage auction service Copart listed the car for sale in its system with a salvage title — meaning the insurer believed the wreck caused more damage than the car was worth. The post set off a debate among Ferrari owners, and word among them was that the driver had passed out behind the wheel due to a leaking exhaust dumping carbon monoxide into the cockpit, leading to a collision with a tree at 50 mph. In the photos below, you can see the spider-web fracture in the windshield where the driver hit; despite the destruction of the car, the driver survived with minor injuries — excluding damages to pride and pocketbook.

Many Ferraris have been crunched beyond recognition on and off the track only to be restored to near-factory perfect condition. But a modern Ferraris poses a greater rebuilding challenge than older models, from hard-to-find parts to, in the instance of the F50, a carbon-fiber chassis. The replacement engine alone cost almost $100,000, and given the state of the chassis it's possible the engine and transmission could find use in some other vehicle. With bidding up to $103,000 at Copart, clearly someone sees an opportunity here.

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