Scarcity is one of the key drivers of price, but the first and last of any scarce or "limited edition" product attracts an even greater premium at auction. First edition books sell for much more at auction, and our research shows that the same occurs with cars and motorcycles, or anything else with a serial number.

It will hence be fascinating to see what happens next week when the prototype Ferrari 275 GTB/4 goes to auction in the Royal Horticultural Hall of Westminster.

The Ferrari 275 GTB is one of Ferrari's most sought-after and valuable models, despite the fact it was produced in quantity. Across the whole 275 family (GTB, GTS, GTB/4, NART Spider) 970 cars were built in total and of those, 280 GTB/4s were built. That's a lot, but as the list below suggests, it still sells for far more than that plentiful figure suggests it should.

Sculpted by Pininfarina with cues from the 250 TdF and GTO models that had preceded it, the GTB/4's Colombo V12 engine had been stretched to 3.3 liters, four camshafts (two for each of the six cylinder banks), and six dual throat Weber carbs. The resultant 300 peak horsepower was more than matched in the mid-range, making for rapid access to the 268 km/h (166.5 mph) top speed and a car which embodied the concept of a Grand Tourer.

The 275 GTB/4 was first seen at the 1966 Paris Auto Salon, and the car to be sold by Coys next week is that very same car – the prototype.

Now Coys is quoting potential buyers £2,000,000 to £2,500,000 (US$2.5 million to US$3.2 million) but a quick survey of the most valuable of those 275 GTB/4 Ferraris that have sold at auction indicates that if it sells in that range it will be a bargain, particularly given that it is the very first of the DOHC family and the Paris Show car, too.

What's more, the alloy and competition models have a major weakness – the body is so thin that they can be easily damaged. Indeed, simply leaning leaning on the 275 GTB/C could result in a dent.

The top 20 Ferrari 275 GTB auction sales

All the prices for cars sold in currencies other than USD are converted at the exchange rates on the day of the sale. Each car listed is linked to the official auction page.

1 | $26,400,000 | 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale

2 | $10,175,000 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

3 | $9,405,000 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C

4 | $7,860,622 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C

5 | $4,620,000 | 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy

6 | $3,960,000 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Alloy

7 | $3,877,000 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

8 | $3,850,000 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB

9 | $3,750,000 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

10 | $3,657,500 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

11 | $3,618,508 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB / 6C Alloy

12 | $3,382,500 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy

13 | $3,337,890 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

14 | $3,300,000 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

15 | $3,300,000 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

16 | $3,245,000 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

17 | $3,163,096 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Alloy

18 | $2,998,740 | 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

19 | $2,849,737 | 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy

20 | $2,750,000 | 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4

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