Ageless Autos

Christie’s annual Exceptional Motor Cars auction in Monterey, Calif., is one of the classic car world’s premier events and this year offers some real beauties

Over the next week, car enthusiasts and deep-pocketed collectors will be making their way to Monterey, Calif., for a week of car-related events including auctions and races during Monterey Car Week. One of the highlights is Christie's Exceptional Motor Cars auction, where everything from a collection of classic Porsches to a 1950 Rolls-Royce will be going on the block.

The auction, which attracts participants from all over the world, will take place on Aug. 17, in the middle of a week of events that concludes on Aug. 20 with the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where classic cars compete for the Best in Show award. Christie's will be auctioning off 50 cars and is expecting to bring in around $10 million.


A centerpiece of the auction is a 1928 Mercedes-Benz Torpedo Roadster whose purchase price is estimated between $3 million to $4 million. The vehicle's history, rarity, and mint condition account for the staggering price. Increasing its value is the fact that the car has been owned by the same family since its purchase in 1929 and has been carefully archived in a museum for the past 30 years.

The 1928 Mercedes-Benz Torpedo Roadster is extremely rare. According to Christie's car specialist Christopher Sanger, because of "low production numbers in 1928" only 124 of these models were made, and even fewer survived. The vehicle's pristine condition is the real rarity, though: After 78 years the odometer shows that it has traveled only 31,550 miles. The complete restoration the car went through in 1982, says Sanger, can get the new owner "an entrance to any concours in the world."

Another notable car that is expected to get bidders excited is the ruby red 1952 Ferrari 225 Sport Spyder. Built at a time when Ferrari was turning out some of its most extraordinary racing cars, the Sport Spyder is expected to sell for between $1.2 million and $1.5 million. Racing under No. 443 , this car has had a winning streak in races in Sicily and Argentina, among others.


Among the other vehicles is a single collection of eight classic Porsches. Dating from 1959 to 1997, they'll be sold separately and are expected to fetch a total of between $2.6 million and $3.3 million.

For bidders who would like to be driven around in style, the 1950 Rolls-Royce Limousine, estimated to sell at $120,000 to $200,000, should do. Rolls-Royce bought this car back from its original owner in 1956 and used it to chauffeur dignitaries and foreign heads of state before reselling it to a private citizen in 1961.

Christie's relies on owners offering their rare cars for auction, though the company also sends staff in pursuit of exceptional vehicles. The next step is transporting them to Monterey in large trucks and trailers. Anxious bidders needn't worry: The shippers pride themselves on never even scratching a car. Just in case, explains Sanders, the cars have "huge insurance policies."

Click here to see a slide show of highlights from the Christie's auction.
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