A classic Ferrari once owned by Steve McQueen sold for $2.31 million Thursday night at auction.

An anonymous car collector who placed a bid by phone bought the 1963 Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso during an auction that drew 800 people to the Monterey Jet Center and attracted spirited bidding, said Christie's spokesman Rik Pike.

The sale price was greater than the estimated pre-sale price of $800,000 to $1.2 million, Pike said.

"I couldn't be happier for the car and the legacy of Steve McQueen," seller Mike Regalia, who restores cars, said in a telephone interview. "Without his ownership, it never would have received this value."

McQueen, who starred in such 1960s films as "The Great Escape," "Bullitt," "Le Mans" and "The Thomas Crown Affair," got the Ferrari as a gift from his first wife, Neile Adams. The actor, who also raced cars, special-ordered the Lusso's brown metallic paint and beige leather interior.

Regalia, of Thousand Oaks, bought the Lusso about a decade ago and spent hundreds of hours restoring it to pristine condition.

When asked how much he paid for it, Regalia coyly replied: "A new Lexus would cost more than what I paid."

McQueen died in 1980, at age 50.