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Monterey auctions: Better cars bring higher prices

Hagerty notes that fewer cars were offered, but sales total increased by 37 percent

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(Editor’s note: This is the last in  a series of daily reports from Hagerty, which has been monitoring the various collector car auctions during Monterey Car Week.)

The Monterey auctions concluded Saturday with a preliminary sales total of $343 million over 3 days  — 37 percent higher than 2019  — despite offering nearly 25 percent fewer cars. Credit a much better sell-through rate (80 percent compared to 59 percent) and higher average price ($428,004 versus $334,114). The secret, as in Arizona and Amelia Island earlier this year, was better cars.

Just as in 2019, the star of the show was a McLaren F1. A low-miles 1995 McLaren F1 brought $20.465 million  on Friday, besting the $19,805,000 for an F1 LM-Spec example in 2019. This year, however, the F1 had more company. In all, 82 cars sold for more than a million dollars, versus 45 in 2019.

Main themes:

* Analog supercars sold well as enthusiasts recognize that era is gone and not coming back.

* Bidders in Monterey sought out a broader variety of vehicles with many Japanese collectible vehicles selling well.

* Live auctions continue to post better sales results by offering fewer but higher quality vehicles.

Monterey, Monterey auctions: Better cars bring higher prices, ClassicCars.com Journal
A classic Jaguar XK-E at Gooding

Highlights:

* A low-miles 1995 McLaren F1 brought $20.465 million Friday at Gooding & Company; top sale of the week, it also beat the prior record of $19,805,000 for an F1 LM-Spec example set in 2019.

* Potentially the second highest selling car of the week, the 1970 Porsche 917K, went unsold with a high bid of $15,000,000.

* A 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring, quickly becoming one of our best Bull Market picks, rung the bell at $1.6 million, a record for a Japanese road car at auction and 72 percent over the Hagerty Price Guide condition #1 value.

Overall, the three days of spectacular sales in Monterey confirmed what we knew going in: The collector car market has weathered the pandemic and then some. We forecast 2021 will be the best year ever for auctions, largely thanks to the growth of online platforms. 

Monterey also provided a reminder that live auctions, and the electrifying atmosphere surrounding them, continue to serve an important role, especially as a venue for exceptional, top-dollar cars.

Monterey, Monterey auctions: Better cars bring higher prices, ClassicCars.com Journal
Final day of the Gooding sale included this 1964 Shelby 289 Coba

Analysis

Indeed, Monterey was a strong showing for a segment of collector car auctions that had slowed before the pandemic. In recent years, sellers of top-dollar cars had grown reticent to bring their best to a public sale, fearing low-ball bidding might damage perceived value. 

Be it confidence in the collector car market and the broader economy or simply a desire to get out and have fun at auctions again, those sellers showed up in spades this year. 

Bidders responded in kind. A 1959 Ferrari 250 GTO California Long Wheelbase brought $10.84 million at Gooding & Co., and a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 S-Type Supercharged Sports Tourer sold at Bonhams for $5.395 million.

Not every high-profile car found a new home. Gooding’s 1966 Ford GT40 went unsold, as did RM Sotheby’s 1955 Jaguar D-Type. The reported high bids on both were close to condition-appropriate values in the Hagerty Price Guide. Most notably, RM’s 1970 Porsche 917K, which had been poised to set an auction record for the marque, went unsold on a reported high bid of $15 million.

We continue to see evidence that while $1+ million cars are selling more often than in past years, those that are fresh to market do well while those that have recently been to another auction often didn’t sell. 

For example, after selling in 2015 for $2.2 million, a 1956 Maserati A6G/54 by Frua was a no-sale at Gooding on Friday. While its patinated exterior is unchanged from its 2015 sale, the car is now road ready and completed the California Mille earlier this year. That wasn’t enough for it to find a new home. 

It contrasts with a 1929 Bugatti Type 35B that Gooding & Company sold for $5.615 million. That car boasts an extensive period race history and has been owned by only a couple of long-term owners    —  all of which was enough to set a record price for the Type 35. 

In a time when there are more buying opportunities than ever, along with more information about vehicles than ever, it seems jaded bidders are willing to chase only the vehicles they haven’t seen before. The year’s biggest earners, including the McLaren, had not been publicly offered for sale in many years.

That said, the kinds of cars Monterey bidders were interested in has broadened beyond the stereotypical Ferraris, Porsches, and Duesenbergs. Japanese vehicles, long seen as better suited to online auction venues, blasted past previous records as seasoned bidders see the long-term value in these vehicles.

 A 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring rung the bell at $1.6 million, a record for a Japanese road car at auction and 72 percent over the Hagerty Price Guide condition #1 value. Gooding & Company sold a 1986 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ62, a car that rose strongly and set records in the online auction world, for $134,400 all in, besting the previous record by nearly $50,000. Surpassing all expectations, a 1995 Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R sold for nearly twice the auction high estimate and 91 percent above its condition-appropriate Hagerty Price Guide value.

Several analog supercars, meanwhile, joined the F1 in bringing big bids this year. A 1994 Bugatti EB110 SS sold for $2.755 million,    setting a record for the model. Three Ferrari F40s sold with final prices averaging 35 percent above Hagerty #1 condition value. RM Sotheby’s sold five late-model, manual-shift Ferraris in a row — a 2007 F430 Spider, a 2001 550 Barchetta, a 2005 Superamerica, a 2005 612 Scaglietti, and a 2009 599 GTB. We know that the third pedal can add a huge premium to modern Ferraris, but these cars still surprised, with all but the 612 Scaglietti exceeding their high estimates. The 599 GTB inspired a heated bidding war, with the final price coming in at $709,000. 

The 2005-2006 Ford GTs are hot, too, with all eight offered selling at an average of 30 percent above condition appropriate value after accounting for options.

The supercars of the 1990s and early 2000s represent a sweet spot between the achingly beautiful but difficult-to-live with classics of the 1960s and the blisteringly fast but somewhat robotic hypercars being built today. These vehicles are poised to climb even higher as younger enthusiasts who grew up with them get deeper pockets.

MONTEREY CAR WEEK AUCTIONS 2021  

Results through August 14

Listed below are the raw results Hagerty Valuation Team members witnessed during live auctions. They may not factor in post-sale deals that have occurred. These numbers include the appropriate buyer’s premiums.

Overall through Saturday from all auction companies

Cumulative total: $342.8 million

801/1,005 lots sold, 80 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $428,004

Overall top-10 sales 2021

1. 1995 McLaren F1 Coupe sold for $20,465,000 (Gooding & Company)

2. 1959 Ferrari 250 California LWB Competizione Spider (closed headlight) sold for $10,840,000 (Gooding & Company)

3. 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Coupe sold for $9,520,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

4. 1962 Ferrari 268 SP Spider sold for $7,705,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

5. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy Coupe sold for $7,705,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

6. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $6,000,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

7. 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix Roadster sold for $5,615,000 (Gooding & Company)

8. 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 S Type Sports Tourer sold for $5,395,000 (Bonhams)

9. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SI (closed headlight) sold for $4,405,000 (Gooding & Company)

10. 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster sold for $4,130,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

Results by auction company

RM SOTHEBY’S

Total sales: $144.9 million

144/161 lots sold, 89 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $1,006,552

Top-10 sales:

1. 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato Coupe sold for $9,520,000

2. 1962 Ferrari 268 SP Spider sold for $7,705,000

3. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy Coupe sold for $7,705,000

4. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $6,000,000

5. 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster sold for $4,130,000

6. 1995 Ferrari F50 Coupe sold for $3,965,000

7. 1953 Ferrari 166 MM SII Spider sold for $3,855,000

8. 1959 Aston Martin DB4 GT Lightweight Coupe sold for $3,855,000

9. 2016 Ferrari F60 America Spider sold for $3,635,000

10. 2003 Ferrari Enzo Coupe sold for $3,360,000

2019 results: $107.1 million

134/184 lots sold, 73 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $799,535

GOODING & COMPANY

Total sales: $106.5 million

110/128 lots sold, 86 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $968,289

Top-10 sales:

1. 1995 McLaren F1 Coupe sold for $20,465,000

2. 1959 Ferrari 250 California LWB Competizione Spider (closed headlight) sold for $10,840,000

3. 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix Roadster sold for $5,615,000

4. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SI (closed headlight) sold for $4,405,000

5. 1930 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe sold for $3,965,000

6. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Coupe sold for $3,662,500

7. 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Coupe sold for $3,305,000

8. 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Hardtop Coupe sold for $3,085,000

9. 1914 Stutz 4E Bearcat Roadster sold for $2,920,000

10. 1992 Ferrari F40 Coupe sold for $2,892,500

2019 results: $76.8 million

107/139 lots sold, 77 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $717,653

MECUM

Total sales: $53.5 million

391/509 lots sold, 77 percent    sell-through rate

Average Sale Price: $136,912

Top-10 s ales:

1. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe sold for $3,410,000

2. 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 (CSX3300 – CSX3360) Roadster sold for $2,860,000

3. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Coupe sold for $2,640,000

4. 2004 Ford GT Coupe sold for $2,640,000

5. 1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Convertible Sedan sold for $2,365,000

6. 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso Coupe sold for $1,760,000

7. 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach Roadster sold for $1,595,000

8. 1965 Shelby GT350R Race Model Fastback sold for $1,265,000

9. 2004 Porsche Carrera GT Coupe sold for $1,210,000

10. 2022 Acura NSX Type S Coupe sold for $1,100,000*

* Charity lot

2019 results: $28.9 million

280/590 lots sold, 47 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $103,210

BONHAMS

Total sales: $35.9 million

122/139 lots sold, 88 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $294,574

Top-10 sales:

1. 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 S Type Sports Tourer sold for $5,395,000

2. 1948 Talbot-Lago Record T26 Cabriolet sold for $1,875,000

3. 1952 Ferrari 212 Europa Cabriolet sold for $1,820,000

4. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $1,710,000

5. 1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT 12 Race Car sold for $1,677,000

6. 1992 Ferrari F40 Coupe sold for $1,600,000

7. 1966 Shelby Cobra 428 Roadster sold for $1,050,000

8. 1964 AC Cobra 289 Roadster sold for $995,000

9. 1966 Shelby Cobra 428 Roadster sold for $995,000

10. 1934 Riley MPH Sports Roadster sold for $967,500

2019 results: $30.8 million

165/220 lots sold, 75 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $186,467

RUSSO AND STEELE

Totals sales: $1.9 million

34/68 lots sold, 50 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $56,027

Top-10 sales:

1. 1967 Ferrari 330 P4 Replica Spider sold for $302,500

2. 1992 Dodge Viper RT/10 Roadster sold for $132,000

3. 1968 Ford Mustang Customized Fastback sold for $126,500

4. 2019 Ford Mustang Bullitt Coupe sold for $80,300

5. 1979 Porsche 911 Slant Nose Conversion Coupe sold for $73,700

6. 1941 Plymouth P12 Special Deluxe Customized Coupe sold for $72,050

7. 1963 Lancia Flaminia 3B Coupe sold for $71,500

8. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Customized Sport Coupe sold for $71,500

9. 1956 Chevrolet 150 Customized Sedan sold for $70,400

10. 1961 Chevrolet Bel Air Customized Sport Coupe sold for $68,750

2019 results: $7.0 million

64/146 lots sold, 44 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $109,270

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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