The world-record price for a children’s car was paid at an RM-Sotheby’s auction in Paris on Saturday February 13, 2021, when a Ferrari 330 P2 Junior by French coach-builder De La Chapelle went for €110,000 (US$133,325).
The highest price ever paid for a children’s car at auction came quite unexpectedly as it was fetched against an official estimate of between €5,000 and €10,000, with a bidding war driving the hammer price to €100,000: 10 times its high estimate. The new record eclipses the existing record of $126,500 paid for a 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa replica at an RM-Sotheby’s auction in New York in 2013.
The 1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa replica was built in period by Italian company Modena Ferrarina Italia and was sold new by the American Ferrari Importer Luigi Chinetti Motors. Only 25 were built, and only five are believed to still exist, so the extremely high price was not entirely unexpected.
The previous record holder was one of Ettore Bugatti’s fabled first batch of Baby cars produced in 1927, which fetched $124,962 (€111,900) at a Christie’s art and interiors auction in 2015. The Bugatti Baby is a faithful half-scale replica of the Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix, the legendary machine that is still today regarded as the most successful racing car in history.
Though around 100 of the original 500 Bugatti Babys manufactured are believed extant, the smallest Bugatti is today regarded as a work of art, and regularly fetches high prices – 11 of the top 15 most valuable children’s cars ever sold at auction are Bugatti Babys.
Which brings us back to the new record holder, the Ferrari 330 P2 Junior by De La Chapelle, which, unlike the previous record holders, is a quite unexpected new auction block champion.
The highest price previously paid for a Ferrari 330 P2 Junior Child’s Car by De La Chappelle was $66,125 at an RM-Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction in March 2015, and the price of that model was undoubtedly inflated because the proceeds went entirely to benefit the Spina Bifida Association of Jacksonville. Charity auctions often produce exceptional results. Beyond that charity auction result, the previous highest price fetched by one of these models was €33,350 (US$38,363) by Bonhams on October 5, 2018, $33,600 at a November 2020 RM-Sotheby’s auction and $30,000 at Mecum’s Monterey auction in August, 2017.
As we noted in our extensive article from September 2020 entitled Pictorial: The Concours of Elegance for Children’s Cars, the prices of collectible children’s cars often display volatility. One of the most collectible children’s car is the 1976 Ferrari 312 F1 Replica. Just seven half-scale Ferrari 312 F1 children’s cars were built in 1977 using half-scale parts from the original Ferrari suppliers. Prices for those cars at auction have ranged from $82,500 to $29,200 in just the last three years.