With the financial world still reeling from the ramifications of the subprime housing implosion, the four major auctions held in conjunction with this year’s Monterey Historics week were eagerly anticipated by insiders as a bellwether for the state of the classic car market. Yet, when the final gavel fell on Sunday night, there was little doubt that as far as the classic car world is concerned, money seems to be no object, with over $137 million changing hands and numerous world record prices being garnered.
First surprise of the week was the Bonhams’ sale at Quail Lodge on Friday, August 15. After suffering through some challenging Monterey sales over the last few years, this year’s Quail sale was a return to form with a solid $21.7 million of sales, much of which coming from historic racecars. Of particular interest was the sale of the 1960 Jaguar E2A “Missing Link” prototype for a record $5,067,500 and the 1939 ex-Ecurie Nice Talbot Lago T150 CSS, in original, unrestored condition for a record $4,845,000.
Next up was Russo & Steele’s sale, which switched formats this year from an “all no reserve,” to “all reserve” sale. This two-night sale saw 50 percent of the 150 cars sell for a total of $9.1 million. One of the more noteworthy lots here was a stunning, world record $302,500 obtained for an original, matching numbers, 1973 Porsche Carrera RS coupe. Doesn’t seem that long ago that one could be had for $35,000!
Also running Friday and Saturday nights was RM Auctions’ famed “Sports & Classics of Monterey” sale, which brought in an amazing $42 million from 170 cars, with 11 cars fetching over $1 million. High water mark for this sale was a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB that notched up a record-setting $4.5 million. Among other interesting racecars for sale was the 1981 Porsche 935 “Moby Dick” for $550,000.
Despite all these remarkable sales and record-setting prices, the revelation of the week was the Gooding & Company sale, which this year expanded to a two-day format. With 140 lots crossing the auction block at Pebble Beach’s Equestrian Center, Gooding’s sale fetched a mind-blowing $64.2 million—nearly as much as the other three auctions combined! Star lot of the Gooding sale was a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante Coupe, which fetched a North American record $7.92 million. Other notables were a 1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Mille Miglia “Sleeping Beauty” for $2.585 million, a 1950 Ferrari 166 MM Berlinetta Le Mans for $2.2 million, and a 1962 Corvette Gulf Oil team car for $1.485 million.