HomeMediaSports cars from 1950s and '60s top another big Monterey auction week

Sports cars from 1950s and ’60s top another big Monterey auction week


Seemingly every year, the collector car auctions taking place on the Monterey Peninsula in northern California post the highest sales totals for any such gathering on the planet. Twenty-seventeen was no different with the auctions doing $317 million in sales.

Perhaps more significant this year was the fact that nine of the top-10 sales involved sports cars from the 1950s and ‘60s. The top-10 sales during Monterey Car Week were:

  1. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 Roadster sold for $22,550,000 at RM Sotheby’s
  2. 1995 McLaren F1 Coupe sold for $15,620,000 at Bonhams
  3. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Coupe sold for $14,520,000 at Gooding & Company
  4. 1970 Porsche 917K Race Car sold for $14,080,000 at Gooding & Company
  5. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe sold for $8,305,000 at RM Sotheby’s
  6. 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Roadster at $8,000,000 Bonhams
  7. 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Prototype Coupe at $6,765,000 RM Sotheby’s
  8. 1955 Ferrari 121 LM Spider sold for $5,720,000 at RM Sotheby’s
  9. 1959 Ferrari 410 Superamerica Series III Coupe $5,335,000 at RM Sotheby’s
  10. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SI Cabriolet $4,840,000 at Gooding & Company

The top-selling car, the Aston Martin DBR1, also became the most expensive British car ever sold at auction. That news came as no surprise as the car was amazing.

The car also helped RM Sotheby’s emerge as the big winner of the week with overall sales of $132.3 million as 103 of 116 lots sold for an 89 percent sell-through rate and an average sales price of nearly $1.3 million. RM Sotheby’s sold five cars for $5 million or more and another five for at least $3.5 million.

Some people wondered about Gooding & Company’s decision to move its Pebble Beach auction from its traditional Saturday-Sunday format to Friday-Saturday this year. That meant going head to head against RM Sotheby’s, and against the popularity of the Saturday vintage racing program at Laguna Seca.

But Gooding’s move appeared to be the right one as it posted $91.5 million in sales with 107 of 132 cars selling, and at an average of more than $850,000 each.

Bonhams’ sales hit $53.4 million at an average of more than $640,000, a sizable improvement over 2016 figures and credited to offering a better docket of collector vehicles.

Mecum had the largest number of collector cars available any auction during Monterey Car Week and the volume model worked well. Nearly 300 vehicles were sold, and for $35 million.

Russo and Steele did sales of only $8.2 million, but had at least two impressive sales — a 1961 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe selling for $1,155,000 and a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT coupe for $671,000.

New to the Monterey party was Worldwide Auctioneers, and its docket reminded us a lot of what RM used to bring to the peninsula, basically a few star lots and a lot of other collector cars at the beginning to the mid level.

Sales totals were $7.0 million, with an average sale price of $142,746, but topped by a 1940 BMW 328 roadster that brought $605,000.

Trends we saw in Monterey were that cars from the 1980s and ‘90s continue to increase in value. Porsche 911 special models such as the GT2 and GT3 are desirable and had many bidders vying for the opportunity to spend their money on their dream cars. The same went for special modern Ferrari models with bidders lining up to buy F40s and F50s.

More modern supercars are still hot with Mecum selling a 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe for $3,795,000, a 2010 Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita Targa for $2,860,000, and a 2015 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse Coupe for $2,585,000.

Gooding & Company also added to the super priced supercar list with a 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari coupe selling for $3,520,000 and Bonhams had the highest priced supercar of the week, the 1995 McLaren F1 coupe that sold for $15,620,000.

The big surprise in Monterey for 2017 was the Studebaker Avanti. We saw two of these cars, both immaculate restorations of R22 supercharged models, sell for $99,000 and a record $126,500. These cars should have moved up a long time ago and we were happy to see it finally start to happen in Monterey.

With the market seemingly stable for 2018, we would guess that we’ll see even higher numbers this summer at Monterey, with one exception: My guess is that the new tax laws will eliminate the super-high prices people have paid for charity cars in recent years.

Andy Reid
Andy Reid
Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.


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