Changing base metal into gold has always been the ultimate quest of any alchemist, but after centuries of studying and trials, no one has ever achieved this goal. So, let’s forget Nicolas Flamel and any so called philosopher, for there have only been two men who succeeded in transforming steel, aluminium and magnesium into precious metal.

Each was born in the north of Italy and I know that you have already guessed whom I’m speaking about: Ettore Bugatti and Enzo Ferrari. They are the living proof (not literally, it was just to see if you are paying attention…) that genius combined with entrepreneurship and hard work can lead to the creation of the most amazing and significant machines ever built in automotive history. Today their creations are worth more than platinum.

If you don’t believe me then let’s just check the facts. I am sure all of you have already seen the amazing results achieved by RM-Sotheby’s recent New York auction “Driven by Disruption”.

Nearly $30 million paid for the great Ferrari 290 MM – thirty million… amazing isn’t it?


$30 million for one ton of car, a car made of steel and aluminium but more importantly… soul. That makes $30 thousand per kilo, roughly the price of gold. In other words someone paid aluminum and steel at the current price of gold!

Another example: the Atlantic is now worth no less than $40 million, for a sculpture of 1.6 ton of magnesium and steel. And what about the Bugatti Royale Napoléon Coupé de Ville? It wouldn’t surprise me if $100 million will be required to treat yourself to the most beautiful car on earth. That is $35 thousand per kilo, about the price of gold… here we are again.


As you see Ettore Bugatti and Enzo Ferrari should be considered the only two real alchemists who ever lived.

This reminds me of the words of a good friend of mine, while I was visiting his car collection. I stood in front of his wonderful Ferrari 250 SWB (or Passo Corto, for the purists) California, a blue sera example with magnolia hide. While I was admiring his marvel, he told me: “You will see in the future this car will be worth its weight in gold”. First I thought that, despite being a genius, my friend was a bit too optimistic, but now I realize that he was right.

Both Ettore and Enzo did not become old enough to see their consecration. These great men had a common and unusual vision – they just wanted to build the most sophisticated cars ever, without any concessions for cost or industrial logic, even in tough times. I believe that this explains the prices achieved by their cars. In our very logical and rational world, ruled by mass production, a lot of people are looking for something different, something that is made with a soul, and that is exactly what these incredible marvels are made of. Bugatti as well as Ferrari are iconic men who had this unequalled spirit that could change anything into gold. Alchemists, I told you…

Next February, when Artcurial will auction in Paris a Ferrari 335 S, the most sophisticated racer ever built in Maranello, gold may prove to be again less valuable than steel and aluminium, who knows…

Written by Simon Haldy