This means that taking part in the Mille Miglia is far from cheap. As an example, take the 1930 OM 665 SS MM that will be offered at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival auction on Saturday, September 13. OM (‘Officine Meccaniche’ or ‘Mechanical Workshops’) is one of the lesser-known Italian sports car builders, having graduated from making locomotives and rolling stock to cars in 1917. The Tipo 665 was introduced in 1923 and claimed several class victories in the ‘Twenties and, in high-performance ‘Superba’ form, it claimed first, second and third place in the inaugural Mille Miglia in 1927. The SS MM had more power and a modernised body. While it was beaten off the top spot by the Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS the 665 SS MM still claimed a 2.0-litre class win.

After a long period in storage in the UK, the OM was rediscovered in the ‘Sixties and its new owners compiled a comprehensive history by tracking down as many people associated with the car back in 1930 while they were still alive. The car has since passed through the hands of several collectors and has been ‘lightly restored’. Bonhams estimates that the OM 665 will be worth a ‘high six figure sum’.

However there are ways to buy a Mille Miglia-eligible car for significantly less. You just have to seek out a less prestigious make. Amongst all the high-end metal in the 2014 Mille Miglia, a 1954 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 was the least expensive entrant by a long margin. Unlike the OM the car in question is not a ‘genuine’ Mille Miglia car, but is eligible because an identical Oldsmobile was entered in the 1954 event, and it has an extensive bundle of paperwork to prove its provenance. A few minor motorsport additions, a full service and an extensive suspension rebuild were all that the Olds received before heading off to Italy. Unfortunately it was recorded as a ‘Did Not Finish’ thanks to a carburettor problem. The Oldsmobile was returned to the USA and is currently for sale in North Carolina for $28,000 – about £16,500, which is but a fraction of the commission Bonhams will receive if it sells the OM!