Editor’s note: The ClassicCars.com Journal will be covering all of the action during Arizona Auction Week in Scottsdale, Arizona. Check out our other coverage here
Every January, the question comes up: what will be the highest-priced car at Arizona Auction Week? Seven collector car auctions are taking place this week through Sunday, but just a few cars on their dockets are contenders for the top sale, each valued in the multiple millions of dollars.
Last year, it was a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale coupe that ranked as the highest seller, reaching more than $8 million at the Gooding & Company auction in Scottsdale. That could be exceeded this year by yet another coachbuilt Ferrari, this one with a royal pedigree.
A 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Speciale with a pre-auction estimated value of $11 million to $13 million will be offered during RM Sotheby’s auction January 17-18 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort in Phoenix. The coupe’s value is the highest going into auction week.
With a one-off body by Pinin Farina, chassis no. 0751 is among only a handful of Ferraris delivered new to European royalty, in this case Princess Lilian de Réthy of Belgium, and one of just two cars in this configuration, each with unique styling. The advanced body design presaged cars that would be coming in the following decade.
But while the Coupe Speciale might reign supreme in potential value, nothing is a given in the auction game, especially at the top of the bidding ladder. Last year, an estimated $50 million worth of top-drawer cars went unsold during Arizona Auction Week, with at least five cars valued above $6 million failing to find new owners.
Rare and competition Ferraris often lead the pack at high-end collector car auctions, and Arizona Auction Week 2019 is filled with them in the top value rankings, according to Hagerty, the classic car insurance and valuation company that tracks auction sales. The five highest-valued Arizona auction cars this year are Ferraris.
RM Sotheby’s also has the apparent value runner-up on its docket, this one a modern hypercar, a 2017 Ferrari LaFerrari Aperta valued at $6.5 million to $8.5 million. With a 1,000-horsepower hybrid drivetrain and removable hardtop, it is one of just 210 built and has been driven just 1,500 miles.
This Aperta could exceed the price of a hardtop model that sold in 2017 for $7 million, which is the highest paid for any car built in the 21st Century.
Next up is a 1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta offered by Gooding, valued at $6 million to $8 million. The Berlinetta is one of just 166 built and was once owned by Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage.
Tying with the 1963 250 GT SWB is a 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB Prototype, also at Gooding, that was used by the factory for testing, valued at $6 million to $8 million.
Rounding out the top five is a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France with racing provenance in South America and the Bahamas. Another Gooding offering, the TdF is valued at $5.75 million to $6.5 million.
RM Sotheby’s, which notes that it has 20 valuable Ferraris lined up for its Arizona sale, said in a news release that the 250 GT Speciale appeared on the lawn at the 2001 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and is being offered for sale for the first time in 20 years. The only other coachbuilt 250 GT Speciale has not come up for sale and not expected to any time soon.
“One of the most significant road cars of the 1950s, the only other example in this body style was also delivered to European royalty and remains in long-term ownership, unlikely to be sold anytime soon, making the acquisition of 0751 an unmissable opportunity,” Gord Duff, global head of auctions for RM Sotheby’s.
But rest assured that despite the focus on king’s ransom value estimates, Arizona Auction Week also has plenty in store for bidders and enthusiasts who are not royalty or movie stars, but appreciate cool collector cars at more down-to-earth prices.