Among the most highly anticipated events during the annual Monterey Peninsula car week are the numerous auctions. In the past few years these usually made headlines for record setting performances but in 2016 the auctions were met with some trepidation. Especially following the 'Brexit' there was more uncertainty in the market. The major auction companies nevertheless managed to create star-studded catalogs. The big ticket items naturally also served to generate a buzz for the individual sales, so ultimately there was more anticipation than trepidation going into the Monterey sales. We attended three previews and have created galleries for the Bonhams
, RM Sotheby's
and Gooding & Company
Bonhams: The Quail Lodge Sale
Kicking off the action for the three major, international auctioneers was Bonhams with their sale that started on noon on Friday during The Quail, a Motorsports Gathering. This auction's headliner was a beautifully preserved Type 51 Bugatti owned by the same enthusiast for over three decades. It is not very often that a no-stories Grand Prix Bugatti is offered for public sale so the expectations were high. Quite remarkably it initially did not sell but eventually did find a new owner during the sale for $4 million. Another highly anticipated offering was the very original Stutz Bearcat that had famously been retrieved during an episode of 'Chasing Classic Cars' by Wayne Carini. Since then, it was brought back to full running order and shown at Pebble Beach. It now found, what was only its third ever owner, for just under $600,000. Almost 100 years younger was the Ferrari LaFerrari that sold for $3.6, which is almost twice what it sold new for just two years earlier. Modern supercars in general performed with with a McLaren P1 and Ferrari 288 GTO both selling for over $2 million. More noteworthy results included $2.8 million for a 1904 Mercedes Simplex and $1.4 million for a Lancia Aurelia America Spider. At the end of the day 88% of the lots consigned found a new owner for just over $35 million.
RM Sotheby's: The Monterey Sale
RM Sotheby's pulled out all the stops for this year's Monterey Sale, which was slightly smaller in size due to a remodelling of the hosting Portola Plaza Hotel. The cars that were consigned were, almost without exception, truly spectacular. The first day started on a very high note when the 1956 Le Mans winning Jaguar D-Type sold for $21.8 million. This car is most deserving of its new title as the most expensive British car ever sold at auction as it is without question the best preserved and most desirable of all 1950s Le Mans winning Jaguars. Just two lots later, the very first Shelby Cobra crossed the block. Owned from new by the late Carroll Shelby, this represented the unique opportunity to acquire the prototype for one America's most famous sports cars. Spirited bidding saw the final price rise to an impressive $13.8 million. Another racing great from Texas, Jim Hall, offered two cars from his collection, which included a Ferrari 750 Monza he had owned for 60 years. Lovingly restored, it sold for $5.2 million. On the second day, two private collections took centre stage. First up was a selection of cars owned by the late Doug Magnon and displayed in his Riverside International Automotive Museum. Almost all lots sold and the very first Eagle Indy car did exceedingly well with a final price of $962,500. Later that evening four cars offered by Sam and Emily Mann crossed the block, headlined by an 8C 2900 Alfa Romeo. Despite its checkered past, this beautifully presented 2.9 sold for just shy of $20 million. Doing not quite as well was the Jim Click Collection of Ford racing cars, which saw a pair of Trans-Am Mustangs, a Cobra and the GT40 return home. Thanks to the big ticket items and an 80% sell-through rate, the two-day auction grossed $118 million.
Gooding & Company: The Pebble Beach Auctions
Housed across the street from the Pebble Beach Lodge, Gooding & Company traditionally make the most of their flagship sale. This year was certainly no exception as upon entering the marquee, visitors were greeted by a pair of silver Ferrari 250 GTs. The most precious of these was an alloy bodied LWB California Spider. At $18.1 million, it was the most expensive sold by Gooding. It was part of the record breaking Saturday sale, which, with a total of $76 million, was the best single day in the company's history. Also contributing to this day's result were a pair of Ferraris (a particularly striking 250 GT SWB Competizione and a highly original 166 MM) and the Porsche 935 that was driven to second overall at Le Mans in 1979 by none other than Paul Newman. The day also ended on a high with a Toyota Land Cruiser fetching $176,000 and a Fiat 600 Jolly selling for a startling $121,000. Adding just over $50 million to the sale's total, Sunday was slightly more modest. Topping the bill were a fabulous Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza and a Bugatti Type 55 both living up to their estimates at $11.8 and $10.4 million respectively. The spectacular Cisitalia 202 CMM Coupe, however, failed to attract a sufficient bid. Auctioneer Charlie Ross' final gavel strike brought an end to the 2016 Monterey Peninsula car week and to Gooding's $129.8 million sale.
While some feared the worst, the frantic weekend of auctions showed that there certainly is strength in the market still. It does look like buyers are better informed and more selective, and accordingly seek out the very best. It is likely that the peace and quiet will only last until the next round of sales in January of 2017 when many of the same questions and concerns will be raised once more.