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Monterey car auctions set a record -- $301.9 million in sales

August 19, 2013|By David Undercoffler
  • A trio of rare Ferraris await their turn on the auction block at RM Auctions' sale in Monterey. Five auction companies selling cars during Monterey Car Week sold more than $300 million worth of cars.
A trio of rare Ferraris await their turn on the auction block at RM Auctions'… (David Undercoffler / Los…)

The high-dollar classic car market continued its cruise in the fast lane during Monterey Car Week, with a record $301.9 million in rare vehicles selling at auction.

Five auction companies sold 726 cars during the annual weeklong gathering of car fans in Monterey, Carmel, and Pebble Beach. The total value of all vehicles sold was up 14% over 2012, according to Hagerty Insurance, which tracks classic car values.

“These auction companies are good at finding the cars that they think will fit the audience,” said McKeel Hagerty, founder of Hagerty Insurance. With the week’s events drawing a huge international audience, it’s a perfect opportunity for the auction houses to capitalize, Hagerty said.

PHOTOS: Highlights from Pebble Beach car week

Five auction companies held sales this year: RM Auctions, Gooding & Co., Bonhams, Mecum, and Russo & Steele. Demonstrating their increasing ability to match cars with the target audience, 71 vehicles sold for $1 million or more. That’s up from 57 in 2012 and 31 in 2011, according to Hagerty.

RM Auctions was the big winner among the sellers. It sold a rare 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider for $27.5 million on Saturday night. That figure, which includes commission, makes it the most expensive road car ever sold at auction. In all, RM’s sales during its two nights of auctions were up 31% over 2012.

Rival auction house Gooding & Co. concluded the Monterey events with its final auction on Sunday night. While sales were essentially flat from 2012, Hagerty said the Santa Monica-based auction house still had a strong showing this year. Of note was Gooding’s sale on Saturday night of a 1997 McLaren F1 coupe for $8.5 million.

Such a high figure put it in the top five of all cars sold for the week, and is unusual for a relatively new car. The F1 is widely considered one of the best supercars ever made, and even traditionally conservative collectors are looking to add one to their collection.

FULL COVERAGE: Pebble Beach car week

Yet the Monterey sales were even a boon for the less valuable cars offered. With so much money spent on the blue-chip brands like Ferrari, Bugatti, and Mercedes-Benz, there’s a trickle-down effect that increases the prices paid for the cars on the lower end of the spectrum.

“That’s fairly typical for Pebble Beach,” Hagerty said. “It becomes this exciting auction environment and people suddenly want to bring something home.”

The 2014 Monterey Car Week runs from Aug. 14 through 17, for those looking to bring something home next year.

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