The annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance attracts billionaires, millionaires and just about everyone else who loves cars. They flock from all over the world to California's Monterey peninsula to view some of the most expensive and finest collector cars ever built. But they also come to wheel and deal at the several auctions that take place during the Concours week.
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Prestigious names like Gooding, Christies, RM Sotheby's and Bonhams compete for the honor of selling the most expensive vehicle and this year promises some multi-million dollar excitement. Hagerty, the world's leading provider of insurance for classic vehicles and publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide estimates combined sales at eight of the largest auction houses will generate $415 million. That's a little less than the $428 million in 2014 but still well above 2013's $306 million in sales.
Hagerty CEO McKeel Hagerty says this year's Monterey auctions will, "...include more million dollar cars but fewer wild-card sales that might dramatically swing the final results." Last year Bonhams set a record when it sold a 1962 Ferrari GTO for $38 million. According to Hagerty, 141 cars listed for sale this year have the potential to sell for more than $1 million dollars an increase of 14% over last year. 35% of them are Ferraris, 9% are Porsches and 9% are Mercedes Benz.
RM Sotheby's is already racing to a nine figure finish after Thursday's "Pinnacle Portfolio" an auction of the most valuable single collection of motor cars ever presented at auction. The Pinnacle Portfolio sales totaled $67 million and could go higher since a few sales are pending. It also broke a few records with Ferrari once again racing to the top of the sales lists. A 1964 Ferrari 250 LM sold for $17.6 million and a 1998 McLaren F1 LM-Specification sold for $13.75 million. Both prices represent auction records for those respective models. One car, a 2005 Ferrari Enzo, which had been a gift to Pope John Paul II, sold for a little over $6 million dollars also setting a record for a Ferrari Enzo sold at auction. RM Sotheby's still has some multi-million dollar Ferrari's coming to auction Friday and Saturday as do the other auction houses.
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Gooding and Company, the official auction house of the Concours, promises some heart stopping action. Among the prized cars crossing Gooding's stage is a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider that is estimated to sell between $16 and $18 million. According to Gooding this 250 GT, chassis 3095, is one of only 37 covered-headlight 250 GT SWB ever produced and the first to come up for public sale in the United States since the 1960s.
Another rare Ferrari, a 1962 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Speciale is expected to command between $14 and $16 million. Gooding says the cars is, "...quite possibly the most important 250 GT SWB ever presented at public auction" because it is a one off "sharknose" design that was built for and owned by famed auto designer Nuccio Bertone. But while Ferraris always grab headlines, Gooding is also offering a 1934 Packard Twelve 1108 Sport Sedan which, according to Gooding, "...is considered by many to be the most elegant Packard of all time, as well as one of the most beautiful closed cars ever created." This Packard 12 Dietrich Individual Custom Sport Sedan is one of only three known to exist. It's expected to fetch between $2 and $3 million at auction.
The Gooding and Company auctions take place Saturday and Sunday.
One trend car collectors and investors should note is the increase in post war cars coming to auction. According to Hagerty, there is a 75% increase in the number of 1980s cars up for auction, a 23% increase in the number of cars from the 1990s and 11% increase in cars from the 2000s. The number of pre-war cars being offered for sale like the 1934 Packard up for auction at Gooding is down this year 37%, but that doesn't mean prices for those cars are falling. According to auctioneers the truly desirable pre war classics are already housed in private collections and buyers are turning their attention to the post war cars looking for bargains before they shoot up in price.