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A new world record has been set! The highest price ever achieved for a car at auction has just been upped – significantly – during the classic car smorgasbord that is the Monterey Car Week.

Leading up to the auction, it had already been widely predicted by all the experts that this could very well happen. GTO: Gran Turismo Omologato. Mmmm… just taste it as it roles of your tongue – delicious! Any of the 36 original Ferrari 250 GTO’s produced is of course a pretty special beast – be that as a legendary classic car to drive or race, or of course as the ultimate blue-chip collector’s car. Furthermore, this particular 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO with chassis number 3413GT is by many regarded as one of the very best of the breed. It was only the third GTO to be manufactured by Ferrari, and it is one of only seven to have the heavily revised series 2 – or “/64” as it is also known – bodywork fitted by Scaglietti. Of these seven GTO’s, chassis 3413GT is one of only two to have the extended roofline, mimicking the roofline of the brutal, mid-engined 250LM which was meant to replace the GTO as Maranello’s motorsport weapon of choice. Chassis 3413GT also comes with a fully documented history comprising a hugely successful race history in period, including winning the 1962 Italian GT Championship and class wins at both the 1963 and the 1964 Targa Florio. Last but not least, chassis 3413GT retains all-matching numbers when it comes to chassis, engine, transmission and differential, and is by many regarded as one of the most original GTO’s in existence.

On that note: Let the bidding commence…

RM Sotheby’s auctioneer opened the bidding at an unprecedented level of 35 million US dollars. An intense bidding war commenced with three collector’s bidding for glory via telephone – sometimes outbidding each other in mind-boggling million dollar increments. Eventually, after almost ten minutes of trying to outperform each other, the gavel finally dropped to rapturous applause at a massive US $ 44 million – equating to $ 48,405,000 including buyer’s premium.

And thus, a new world record had been set for highest price achieved for a car at an auction. The previous record of US $ 38 million was equally held by a Ferrari 250 GTO – chassis number 3851GT – and was achieved by Bonhams in in 2014. However, while the auction record was obliviated by RM Sotheby’s last Sunday, it is claimed that just recently another Ferrari 250 GTO changed ownership in a private transaction for a staggering US $ 70 million!

But while the GTO was always going to be the headline grabbing auction of the whole Monterey Car Week, there were in fact multiple other notable auction results. RM Sotheby’s managed an impressive 83% sell-through rate over their two-day auction, with the one-off ex-Works 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Competition Prototype selling for a heady US $ 21,455,000. The 1966 Ford GT40 MkII which came in third at the 1966 Le Mans where Ford famously swept both 1st, 2ndand 3rdplace traded hands at US $ 9,795,000, and a beautifully presented 1956 Maserati A6G 2000 Berlinetta Zagato set a new auction record for the model when it fetched US $ 4,515,000. Still with RM Sotheby’s, while several of their pre-war LOT’s didn’t manage to sell, the ex-Pebble Beach “Best of Show”-winning 1934 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Convertible by Dietrich achieved a very healthy US $ 3,745,000.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for RM Sotheby’s. Surprisingly, their 1960 Ferrari 250 GT swb Berlinetta Competizione did not sell, which was also the case for other significant cars such as their 1968 Porsche 908 ‘Works’, their 1963 Shelby Cobra 289 and their 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America.

In terms on no-sale-cars, it’s almost uncanny how similar Bonhams faired during Monterey Car Week. Their headlining and wonderfully original 1962 Ferrari 250 GT swb Berlinetta fell short of its reserve too. Is there a trend here? Has the previously always so popular and painstakingly beautiful swb fallen out of favour with the high-end collectors? And if so, the question presents itself: Why? And bizarrely, perfectly aping the results at RM Sotheby’s; Bonhams’ 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 and their 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24 Spider America equally did not manage to find new homes. Despite this, it was still an overall successful auction for Bonhams achieving an 80% sell-through rate. Spoils of the day were claimed by the fabulous one-of-three-built and sole-surviving 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C Competizione when the gavel fell at a bang-on estimate US $ 3,525,000. Also selling at a rather healty US $ 1,655,000 was the 1953 Siata 208S Spider, which happened to by my personal first choice when we leading up to the Monterey Car Week had our little virtual game of ViaRETRO’s Favourites from the Upcoming Bonhams Monterey Auction. And arguably, Bonhams performed better on pre-war cars than did RM Sotheby’s, with several strong and significant sales such as their 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Sports Roadster by Mayfair fetching US $ 3,277,500, and a 6½ litre and a 4½ litre Bentley selling respectively at US $ 1,655,000 and US $ 1,435,000.

Over at Gooding & Company they achieved another strong 83% sell-through rate, with their headline-grabbing car being the astonishing 1935 Duesenberg SSJ by LaGrande which was delivered new to Hollywood icon Gary Cooper, and now traded hands for an astonishing US $ 22,000,000 despite a substantially lower set “in excess of $ 10 million” estimate. Their ex-Pedro Rodríguez 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C surprised by notfinding a new home, but other than that, Maranello-hardware managed well during their auction, with some of the more exotic being their 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial Series II selling at US $ 5,005,000, their 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinettta selling at US $ 6,600,000, and not least their unique and utterly exquisite 1966 Ferrari Dino Berlinetta GT, which was the second prototype for the Dino, selling at US $ 3,080,000. A couple of early race cars from Stuttgart managed well too with a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder fetching US $ 4,455,000, while its more athletic-looking sibling, the 1959 Porsche 718 RSK managed US $ 3,740,000. Also worthy of mention, contrary to both RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams, Gooding & Company did indeed manage to sell their 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America at US $ 1,870,000.

It would thus appear, that while the general classic car market has seen a slight cooling of values over the last year or two – and probably rightly so I might add! – the high-end blue-chip collector’s market is still strong as ever and continuing to stun those following from the sidelines with ever increasing values. US $ 48,405,000. Phwoooaar


Pictures courtesy of RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Gooding & Company.

2 Responses

  1. Tony Wawryk

    Quite incredible prices being paid at the top end of the market – catching up fast with the fine art market, and for me at least, a classic car (of any sort) is as much a work of art as any painting or sculpture, and you can drive it too – if you dare! $48m though…takes the breath away!

  2. YrHmblHst

    It pains me to admit it, but when Im wrong, Im wrong; I used to say that it was impossible to have too much money. Obviously that is incorrect…


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