June 1, 2023


Automotive and technology

Roaring sales at Auction Week in Monterey show growth in classic cars

US$20.46-million McLaren F1 sets new benchmark, and is a good indicator of how 2021 may prove a record year for classic car auctions

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The five auctions running simultaneously during Monterey Auction Week and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance saw US$343 million in combined sales over three days, 37 per cent higher than 2019’s sales. This, despite selling 25 per cent fewer cars.

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Mecum, Russo and Steele, Bonhams, Gooding & Company, and RM Sotheby’s hit home runs with the collector cars that crossed the block, with a record number of million-dollar-plus vehicles selling at the live auctions. The sell-through rate went from 59 per cent in 2019; to 80 per cent, with an average sale price of $428,000, compared to 2019’s $334,000.

Pent up demand, the cancellation of last year’s auctions, and a return of the crowds all contributed to high interest and high prices.

Collector-car market-watchers note that a rising tide floats all boats, and so it is with collector cars, with all sectors experiencing strong sales and prices. Hagerty Insurance forecasts that 2021 will be the best year ever for auctions.

The Monterey auctions marked a high-water mark for vintage Ferraris, Ford GT models, supercars, and seldom seen exotics.

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The biggest sellers included (all prices in U.S. dollars) a 1995 McLaren F1 Coupe, which set a record for the model at $20,465,000 at the Gooding & Company sale; a 1959 Ferrari 250 California LWB Competizione Spider, which went for $10,840,000 via Gooding & Company; a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Coupe, which traded for $9,520,000 at the RM Sotheby’s event; a 1962 Ferrari 268 SP Spider, which Ontario-headquartered RM sold for $7,705,000; and a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy Coupe, which saw $7,705,000 at RM Sotheby’s.

The top 10 was rounded out by a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe ($6,000,000 at RM Sotheby’s); a 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix Roadster ($5,615,000, Gooding & Company); a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 S Type Sports Tourer ($5,395,000, Bonhams); 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SI ($4,405,000, Gooding & Company); and a 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster ($4,130,000 at RM Sotheby’s).

Japanese collectibles also showed strong gains, led by a 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring selling for US$1.6 million, a record for a Japanese road car at auction, and nearly double previous valuations.