McCartney Aston Martin, $3.2 Million Ferrari Star in Sale

1959 Ferrari 250GT LWB Berlinetta 'Tour de France'
A 1959 Ferrari 250GT LWB Berlinetta "Tour de France." The Italian-made racer was one of 93 lots of classic cars and motor cycles being sold by RM Auctions in Battersea, south London, on Oct. 31. The car sold for the equivalent of $3.2 million with fees. Photographer: Cymon Taylor/RM Auctions via Bloomberg

A 1959 Ferrari GT racer, an Aston Martin once owned by Paul McCartney and a Bugatti Veyron were among star lots in a test of the classic-car market last night.

The Ferrari sold for $3.2 million, the top lot in an annual event by Canadian-based RM Auctions at London’s Battersea Evolution. A rare “14-louver” air-vent variant of the “Tour de France” Ferrari dating from 1956 was sold by RM for $6.7 million at its California auction in August.

“This was less desirable than the Monterey car,” said Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI), whose Top 50 benchmark index tracks the sales of exceptional classic cars. “There were only seven or eight ‘14-louver’ versions built, and the 1956 date allows the new owner to enter the Mille Miglia Storica. Event-eligibility is a significant value-driver.”

RM’s auction of 93 classic cars and motorcycles is the first big-ticket event since a record $263.3 million series in California in August. Prices of the rarest 1950s and 1960s cars by marques such as Mercedes and Ferrari are on the rise; some more recent models are struggling to appreciate, dealers said.

The Aston Martin DB5 was delivered new to McCartney during his time as a Beatle in September 1964. It sold for 344,400 pounds ($556,481) with fees to an unidentified bidder in the room, against an estimate of 300,000 pounds to 380,000 pounds. The DB5 had passed through at least three other owners before being acquired in 2002 by a U.K.-based collector, who restored the original Sierra Blue bodywork.

Restored Racer

The Ferrari 250GT LWB Berlinetta “Tour de France” had a formal selling price of 1.96 million pounds with fees, against a hammer-price estimate of 1.8 million pounds to 2.4 million pounds.

The racer was entered by a collector from Brescia, Italy. It had been restored after racing in hill climbs in 1959 and 1960, and was bought by a collector in the room who declined to give his name.

Earlier in the evening, a 2008 Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4 --the world’s fastest production car -- sold for 579,600 pounds to an unidentified bidder at the front of the room.

With a top speed of more than 250 miles per hour, the Bugatti was one of 22 European- and U.S.-made cars being sold without reserve by the Dutch collector Wim Zegwaard.

The Veyron, with a production limited to 300, had an original price of $1.5 million to $2 million, dealers said. This example had less than 700 kilometers (435 miles) on its odometer and had been estimated to fetch between 440,000 pounds and 560,000 pounds.

Crazy Car

“The Veyron is completely crazy,” said Adrian Hamilton, chairman of the Hampshire-based dealer Duncan Hamilton & Co., which has bought and sold several examples. “If you drive flat out, it runs out of petrol in 16 minutes. It costs a fortune to maintain. Yet a car like that may never be created again. It could potentially be a reasonable investment.”

The HAGI Top 50 benchmark index declined 3.96 points (2.2 percent) in September against a backdrop of continuing uncertainty in the global economy, particularly in Europe, the London-based company said in an e-mail.

A 1955 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing was the most highly valued car in the auction and it failed to sell. The car was formally estimated at 3.2 million pounds and bidding stopped at 2.4 million pounds.

The Mercedes was cataloged by RM as being one of just 29 alloy-bodied 300SL models. Another example of this rare car sold for $4.6 million at Gooding & Co. in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Jan. 20-21. Both vehicles had been restored.

“This is the greatest of postwar Mercedes,” Simon Kidston, the founder of Geneva-based car dealer Kidston SA, said in an interview at the sale. “After that Scottsdale result, every owner thinks his car is worth $4.6 million. This event tells us what a gullwing is really worth.”

The RM sale had a combined minimum estimate of 20 million pounds and raised 13.87 million with an 83 percent success rate.

Muse highlights include Greg Evans on TV, Craig Seligman on books and Jason Harper on cars.

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