Every year the world’s biggest (and richest) car collectors flock to the Monterey Peninsula to show or race their precious possessions in events like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and the Monterey Historic Races. With such a high concentration of enthusiasts, it is no surprise that all the main auctioneers set up shop in and around Monterey to convince the collectors that there really is room for one more. In order to attract the most attention, all of them try their hardest to bring out some truly special machines; for us simple observers this means a lot of additional eye-candy. We dropped by all major sales to capture them in high res and full colour in our 100-shot slideshow
. All prices in the following report are in US dollars.
Blackhawk Exposition (August 16 – 20)
Celebrating their 35th anniversary at Pebble Beach, Don Williams’ five day Blackhawk exposition is not really an auction, but all vehicles on display are for sale. Across the street from the Pebble Beach lodge, the location for this exposition is ideal. Amazingly the several dozen cars present are but a small selection of the fine cars that are part of the Blackhawk collection. To give each of the cars present plenty of exposure, many of them moved daily. We were immediately captured by a unique Pininfarina bodied Bentley T1, which we, like many, initially mistook for a Rolls Royce Camarque. The design is a somewhat odd mix of the familiar Bentley nose with a Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 rear-end. Another remarkable car on offer was the 1984 Pebble Beach ‘best of show’ winning Cunningham All Weather Cabriolet. Little known today, it was one of the most expensive cars built in the 1920s. By many rally fans the Group B era is still very fondly remembered. One of the last cars developed under for this class is the Ford RS200 and Blackhawk had one of the 600 bhp evolution versions on offer. One of just 24 constructed, it’s capable of sprinting to 60 mph in very little over 2 seconds.
Christie’s (Thursday August 17)
Headlined by the stunning Mercedes Benz 680 S Saoutchik Cabriolet, Christie’s sale at the Monterey Jet Center kicked off the four day auction marathon. With 39 of the 52 lots sold, it started of very well. Selling for well over $3.5 million, the striking Mercedes proved to be a fitting finale of the evening. A few hours earlier a meticulously restored and documented Ferrari 225 S Vignale Spyder had set the tone after being hammered down at a cool $1.3 million. One of the more unusual vehicles on offer was a 1947 Bugatti Type 73C sports-car. Although it was still designed by Ettore Bugatti, the factory never got beyond completing a chassis. This engine-less chassis was displayed at the Paris Motorshow, but the company folded before work could continue. In the 1960s and 1970s a variety of parts were gathered and a completely new body was created. The now completed car was displayed for a while at the Donnington Grand Prix museum for many years before finding a new owner in 1994. The pre-auction estimate of $300,000 - $500,000 is a clear indication of how hard it is to value this unique car. The gathered enthusiasts valued it at $323,000, which was enough to meet the reserve set. Fans of more modern cars were treated to a fine collection of special Porsches, most of which sold very well.
Bonhams (Friday August 18)
Well fed and entertained, it was a short stroll across the street from the ‘The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering’ to the Bonhams and Butterfields tent. In keeping with the family mix of the ‘The Quail’, this auction offered not only collectors’ motorcars, but also a fine collection of jewelry. The heart of this auction was formed by vehicles that were until recently part of the vast Rosso Bianco Collection. The vendor bought the entire collection, but due to the lack of space was forced to offer several of them. This was not the first or last Bonhams auction with Rosso Bianco cars. Understandably the CanAm cars and late 1930s French vehicles were offered here, which are ideal for the American vintage racing scene and the many concours d'elegance respectively. With over 90% of the lots sold for just over $13 million, the auction was a resounding success. After the auction it got even better when the headlining Talbot Lago Teardrop Coupe found a new owner for around $3 million.
RM Auctions (August 18 & 19)
Modesty is not one of RM Auctions' trademarks, but they bring the results to back it up. Their two-day extravaganza in downtown Monterey is easily the largest auction of the weekend and this year RM went all out to break the record for most expensive car ever auctioned with the Ferrari 412 S. This objective caused widespread speculation in the months building up to the auction leaving the company's PR department with very little to do. The unique Ferrari was eventually hammered down at $5.61 million; not enough to get the record, but it helped a great deal in the $43 million sale total, which was a record. Even for people not interested in buying the cars, the two evenings are very interesting as RM always manages to pull famous faces on the stage. On Friday Metallica lead singer James Hetfield spiced up the sale of his customized Ford F150 by adding a signed guitar to the lot. It was also great to see Don Roberts drive the Cobra in which he had scored 25 victories in 1967 and 1968 making it the winningest Cobra of all time. The small pain of not breaking the record was well forgotten the next as a very recent RM-restoration won 'best of show' at Pebble Beach.
Gooding & Company (Sunday August 20)
After the very long and exhaustive day on the 18th fairway of Pebble Beach, it still was not quite over yet; shortly after the 'best of show' was announced the Gooding & Company auction got under way. Fortunately, as the 'official' Pebble Beach auction, their large tent was located nearby at the equestrian center. Two days earlier the large tent was already packed for the official launch of the Ferrari P4/5 by Pininfarina. On Sunday several vintage Ferraris also took center stage; most prominently a very 'hot' Daytona. With just 100 lots, the sales total of almost $22 million was quite an achievement. An ex-Works Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix racer fetched a very impressive $2.585 million. Another top seller was a Ferrari 250 GT TdF for $1.540 million. The stunning 'Hot Rod' found a new owner for a cool $341,000. Continuing the trend of million dollar American show-cars, a funky Boano bodied Lincoln one-off reached $1.375 million.