Cars

Ferrari, Jaguar Lead $370 Million Pebble Beach Auctions Weekend

What you need to know whether you're a serious collector or a wishful thinker.

Pebble Beach: Time for the Most Beautiful Cars to Gather

This week the center of the car universe is Carmel, Calif.

Monterey Car Week and its crown jewel, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, mixes executives from the top brands (Bugatti, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, say) with that special breed of car collector who doesn’t hesitate to drop a cool million on a pretty Sunday driver. There’s also the Quail Motorsports Gathering, the $600-per-ticket lawn party on Friday that sold out weeks ago to fans undoubtedly anticipating its famously lavish provisions of fresh oysters, champagne, and wood-boxed cigars. All the better for ogling the curves of those vintage European sportsters dotting the grass, my dear.

Gooding & Co. is selling this 1932 Bugatti Type 55 roadster. This blue baby is arguably the finest example of a roadster produced by Jean Bugatti. It raced at the 1932 Mille Miglia race in Italy and had a full restoration in 2013. 
Gooding & Co. is selling this 1932 Bugatti Type 55 roadster. This blue baby is arguably the finest example of a roadster produced by Jean Bugatti. It raced at the 1932 Mille Miglia race in Italy and had a full restoration in 2013. 
Photographer: Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Company

Sunday’s Concours will see 200 six- and seven-figure cars parked on the 18th fairway of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Course. The most eager attendees will hit the lawn at 5 a.m., fighting fog and dew to view vintage cars of the Packard, Jaguar, Maserati, and Duesenberg caliber, plus a row of the world’s top dozen or so racing Ferraris, each worth tens of millions. Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Caitlyn Jenner are frequent, effusive attendees. Tickets cost $375.  

And then there are the auctions. 

“Monterey is the place to watch the market,” said McKeel Hagerty, the chief executive officer of Hagerty Insurance. “It is a fundamentality different animal from Scottsdale or anywhere else. It’s where all the high-end cars sell in numbers. It’s where you get to see the unicorns come out to play.”

Hagerty expects the total cull to reach $370 million. All told, six major auction houses will dominate headlines, and Gooding & Co., RM Sotheby’s, and Bonhams will sell the bulk of the blue-chip models.

The 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America has an all-alloy V6 engine that gets 118 hp on a four-speed manual transmission. This one has had only five owners and fewer than 63,000 miles on it.
The 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America has an all-alloy V6 engine that gets 118 hp on a four-speed manual transmission. This one has had only five owners and fewer than 63,000 miles on it.
Source: Bonhams

Gooding & Co. 

Gooding will offer 160 cars, 36 of which exceed $1 million in estimated value. Top estimates include the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Spider Competizione at $20 million, and the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione at $18 million.

  • When: 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20; 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21
  • Where: 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach Resort  
  • Tickets: $40 for entry for one; $100 for auction catalogue, which admits two

 

RM Sotheby’s 

This auction will sell perhaps the preeminent Jaguar in the world, a 1955 Jaguar D-Type that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is expected to fetch $25 million. RM Sotheby's will also sell a 1964 Shelby 289 “Competition” Cobra CSX 2473 and a 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Lungo Spider, which are expected to elicit $2 million and $25 million from the lucky top bidders.

  • When: 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19; 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20
  • Where: Portola Hotel & Spa, Pebble Beach, Calif.
  • Tickets: $40 for entry for one; $300 for bidder registration

 

Bonhams 

The auction house is selling a 1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix Racing Two-Seater and a 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America. Each will likely sell for more than $1 million.

  • When: 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 19
  • Where: Quail Lodge & Golf Club; Carmel, Calif.
  • Tickets: $150 for two, which includes auction catalogue
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type is considered possibly the most expensive Jaguar in the modern world. It has a 250-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine and a four-speed manual transmission. Top speed was more than 170 mph.
The 1955 Jaguar D-Type is considered possibly the most expensive Jaguar in the modern world. It has a 250-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine and a four-speed manual transmission. Top speed was more than 170 mph.
Photographer: Patrick Ernzen ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Even with the big numbers expected, auctioneers are careful this year with how they are framing expectations. Some might even say tentative.

“We are hearing cautious language out of both dealers and auction companies,” Hagerty said. “They are spending more time explaining why they may not hit the same numbers they hit in a previous year.”

Indeed, total sales estimates for 2016 are down 7 percent from last year’s $396 million and down even more from the $400 million mark in 2014. Thought there is always some level of market uncertainty during election years, Brexit and the fluctuating euro may have made some naturally reticent buyers even less inclined to pull the trigger on buying a new toy. But Hagerty called it a case of slower growth, not decline.

“It’s not the sky falling, at all,” he said. “The market is very very strong for the best cars.”

This car won the Daytona and Sebring 24-hour endurance races. It has a flat six-cylinder engine and 750 horsepower on a four-speed manual transmission. It’s one of the most successful Porsches in racing history—and was driven extensively by Paul Newman.
This car won the Daytona and Sebring 24-hour endurance races. It has a flat six-cylinder engine and 750 horsepower on a four-speed manual transmission. It’s one of the most successful Porsches in racing history—and was driven extensively by Paul Newman.
Photographer: Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Company

In fact, the high-end car auction market has remained solid while others for jewelry and art have suffered. This year more vehicles will be offered in the $10 million-plus range than last year, even with a 5 percent reduction in the number of vehicles offered. It’s also worth noting that with blue-chip values such as these, even a $20 million dip in sales totals one year to the next could reflect the absence of just one car.

It’s more telling for the casual observer to look at what types of cars are selling. Or not selling.

This year at Pebble expect to see fewer examples from the 1950s and '60s. The number of 1950s vehicles on offer has fallen since 2009, when it peaked at 29 percent of cars sold there. At this year’s sales, only 16 percent of vehicles are from the 1950s. The 1960s segment peaked at 34 percent in 2014; this year only 27 percent of offerings are from that era.

The most iconic modern Ferrari, the LaFerrari has a V12, 963-hp engine and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Only 120 were delivered to the U.S. market, out of 499 made total. It initially was sold for $1.4 million but is now valued at more than twice that. 
The most iconic modern Ferrari, the LaFerrari has a V12, 963-hp engine and a seven-speed dual clutch transmission. Only 120 were delivered to the U.S. market, out of 499 made total. It initially was sold for $1.4 million but is now valued at more than twice that. 
Source: Bonhams

Instead, look for increasing groups of modern classics such as rare Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes from the '90s and early 2000s, which continue to be a part of the biggest growth segment for the overall market. Models from 1980 or later represent 24 percent of cars on offer in Monterey. What’s more, models made in 2010 or later (cars shockingly recent enough to be considered that dirty word, “used,” by the, ahem, less enlightened) make up 4 percent of all the cars offered during the Monterey auctions this year. That’s more than twice as many as the preceding two years. Hagerty said that percentage will reach double digits in the next couple years.

“What the market is saying is that these are slightly younger buyers, and they’re not listening to the old guard saying things like, ‘That’s not a real Ferrari because it was made after Enzo died,’” Hagerty said.   

The 1931 Bugatti Type 51 has an eight-cylinder engine on a four-speed manual transmission. It was known for being extremely fast and agile back in its day. This is the first time this example has gone on sale at a public auction
The 1931 Bugatti Type 51 has an eight-cylinder engine on a four-speed manual transmission. It was known for being extremely fast and agile back in its day. This is the first time this example has gone on sale at a public auction
Source: Bonhams

Exhibit A: There are two Ferrari LaFerraris on sale this year at Pebble, one from Mecum and one from Bonhams. Last year there were none. Both are expected to take more than $3 million.

Not that the racing Ferraris will lose their hold on top any time soon. Of the top 10 expected sales this year at Pebble auctions, five are Ferrari 250s.

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