million sale raises questions:
* Does this single out the most valued car of all time?
* Is this Ferrari simply the best automobile ever?
* Was its designer, Enzo Ferrari, the greatest genius of his type to grace this planet?
My answers are no, no, and no.
Certainly, the giddy price paid for the Ferrari reflects more than automotive worth. Apparently, those with funds to park see a rising market in classic cars, not tanking real estate or bubbly tech stocks.
But even discounting the investment angle, the $16.4 million price still awards the Ferrari marque distinction. Wasn't that cache earned on the Gran Prix circuit? Certainly. But were Ferrari wins from unmatched automotive design genius?
I would offer that Enzo Ferrari was undercut when in negotiations with Ford Motor Company to sell his company, he abruptly broke off talks. Henry Ford II was furious. He ordered his engineers to show up Ferrari. Well, a newly minted Ford GT40 went out and beat Ferrari four years in a row.
Okay, if not price, what makes for the valuable, the best, the genius in automobiles?
I'll start with value for the dollar. Automotive genius is putting together an affordable, durable car that goes from the wilds of Alaska to Patagonia and stays together. A car that doesn't beg for an expensive uber-mechanic (balancing carburetors on a Ferrari V-12 is no trivial task). See where I'm going?
My nominee for the most valuable car ever (to pick a comparable vintage): the 1957 Volkswagen, Type 1. The Bug is the most produced car model in history. Built like the kitchen sink, elegant in its simplicity, made to travel on almost any road put down by man, in any weather. And with a copy of John Muir's How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step by Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot, any shady tree mechanic, anywhere, could keep the Bug running.
Creating a great, affordable product is the ultimate challenge. Many people, as Henry Ford II showed, can take a blank check and get spendy results. But to do what Ferdinand Porsche did and come up with a winning design, more ubiquitous than even Henry Ford's Model T: That is genius of value. Many tried to make Everyman's car. But nobody succeeded like Herr Porsche. Ask any of the 21,529,464 VW owners!
Image credit: google images
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
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