Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta
Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta INM

Why is this Ferrari worth AU$41 million?

A FERRARI has become the most expensive car sold publicly after fetching £23 (AU$41m) million at auction.

The 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta, known as 3851 GT, is one of just 39 made, and is regarded as one of the world's greatest Ferraris.

The crowd watching the sale broke into applause after the buyer's bid was confirmed at Bonhams' auction in Carmel, California.

It means the model, previously involved in a fatal accident, becomes the most expensive car publicly sold in the world. The previous record, set at Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed auction in Sussex last year, was a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 R F1 Racer bought for about £18 million.

Bonhams chairman Robert Brooks said: "It's been a genuine privilege to represent this outstanding car and we are absolutely delighted with today's results."

The GTO was the 19th model made and had been owned since 1965 by a racing enthusiast family, the Violatis, who used it to compete in a number of races.

But maker Ferrari had to repair the vehicle after Henri Oreiller, the former French skiing champion, was killed during one race that it competed in three years prior. Since being repaired, the vehicle has been used up until the early 21st century and its latest sale marks its new era.