Eddie Smith was a larger-than-life, rags-to-riches story, a textbook
example of someone who lived and embodied the American Dream.
Now, more than six years after his death, his legend has grown even
Saturday night in Monterey, Calif., RM Auctions sold the 1967 Ferrari
275 GTB/4 NART Spider that Smith’s family owned since new for $25
million. That made it the second most expensive car ever sold at
auction, behind only a Mercedes-Benz Formula One car raced by the
legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, which sold earlier this year for $30
The best part of the story?
At the direction of Smith’s family, every penny of the proceeds from
the sale of the car he loved so dearly will go to charity.
Born in Wake County in 1918, Smith spent seven years in the Junior
Order Home orphanage near Lexington, N.C., after his parents died in
1930. He worked as an usher in a movie theater and as a cab driver
before founding National Wholesale Co., a mail-order hosiery business,
which he built into a hugely successful enterprise. He later became
the mayor of Lexington and was widely known for his philanthropic
As for the car, it was expected to sell for a high estimate of $17 million.
Instead, it broke the bank by hitting $25 million.
Smith bought the car new and kept it until his death, having once
rebuffed a sale offer from Steve McQueen.
“Dad said to him, ‘Steve, I like you, but I don’t love you,’” said Smith’s
son, Eddie Jr. “‘You can’t have my car.’”
See the video of his incredible car here: