Mercedes Gullwing Tops $46 Million Collections at Auction

A Mercedes Gullwing coupe sold for $1.15 million last night at the start of auctions that test demand for what has been a booming market for classic cars.

Two private collections are up for sale in London, with a combined minimum estimate of about 30 million pounds ($46 million). The 54 Mercedes models put on auction by a Portuguese collector yesterday will be followed by a Scottish businessman’s cars, a James Bond “submarine” and other lots today.

The silver 1956 300 SL Gullwing formerly owned by U.S. West Coast collector Don Ricardo was sold by RM Auctions without reserve and a hammer price estimate of 700,000 pounds ($1.1 million) to 900,000 pounds. Its formal price was 739,200 pounds with fees, paid by an unidentified bidder in the room at Battersea Park.

“There’s less hype in the market for Mercedes than Ferrari,” Dietrich Hatlapa, founder and managing director of HAGI, said in an interview before the sale. “It’s also less volatile. The company produced more cars and there’s greater model diversity. The quality of the build is high and they’re more robust.” The HAGI index for Mercedes had increased 19.5 percent over the last 12 months, Hatlapa said.

A streamlined silver 1938 540 K Cabriolet A, the most highly valued of Sunday’s lots, was less successful in the public auction. The bidding stopped at 1.4 million pounds, just missing the low estimate of 1.5 million pounds. Negotiations on a private sale were taking place later.

No Reserve

The Portuguese Mercedes collection had previously been put on sale privately and had not found a buyer, dealers said. These lots had been given a minimum valuation of 13 million pounds by RM, who said it did not have a financial interest in the auction, other than the commission. The Sunday event raised 8.1 million pounds with 88 percent of the lots finding buyers, said RM.

The below-estimate proceeds reflected the fact that the cars had been seen on the market before and most of them were being sold without reserve prices.

Monaco- and South Africa-based Irvine Laidlaw, a member of the House of Lords, is selling seven classic racers estimated at $26 million today, including a 1955 Jaguar D-Type valued at more than 5.5 million pounds.

The Lotus Esprit was built for the 1977 movie “The Spy Who Loved Me” in which Roger Moore drives the car into the sea. It has a low estimate of 500,000 pounds.

The event follows bellwether sales in California that raised $301.9 million, the highest total for any series of classic car auctions. Rare Ferraris from the 1950s and ’60s have soared in value. As a result, the London-based HAGI Top price index of the world’s most collectible autos advanced 9.3 percent in August.

The HAGI index of Ferraris was up 15 percent for the month, while that for Mercedes was down 0.5 percent.

Muse highlights include Elin McCoy on wine, Warwick Thompson on U.K. theater and Greg Evans on U.S. television.

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