PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.
This year’s classic car auctions around the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Aug. 14-18 could easily gross more than $300 million.
In 2012, the five auction companies moved about 1,200 cars that brought a then-record total of $262 million. Since then, classic car values have continued their dizzying climb.
In fact, just the top five cars up for auction, out of another 1,000-plus on offer this year, could be worth as much as $60 million.
Perhaps the $60 million figure is a bit of a stretch. Maybe it will “only” be $58 million. But the 2013 Pebble Beach auctions are shaping up to be a used car sale like no other in history.
What do I consider the top five cars offered for auction this year? With some help from the valuation specialists at Hagerty, the classic car insurance company, here they are:
1. The topper has to be the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider, pictured above. The initials are for North American Racing Team, which was run by Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti. Chinetti talked Enzo Ferrari into making some convertible versions of the 275. He agreed to make just ten, with coachwork by Scaglietti. How exclusive was the ownership? Steve McQueen owned one; in fact, he tried to buy this one but was told no. This extravagant example, which was originally blue (no one seems to care the paint was changed), is a one-owner car that was owned by a North Carolina business man who passed away in 2007. His heirs are selling it, with the proviso that all proceeds go to charity. RM put a pre-sale estimate on it of $14 million-$17 million, but it could go for more. Maybe a lot more.
2. Gooding & Co. has placed a pre-sale estimate of $9,000,000-$11,000,000 on its Lot 39 – a 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta. The 250 GT was an iron horse of a race car, and earned victories in many endurance races – including the grueling Tour de France, which it won multiple times. This car, which itself has a long and storied racing resume, has a fastback body by Scaglietti, with a distinctive 14-louver vent in the C-pillar. It received a factory-quality full restoration in 2008. Prices for these cars have been soaring in recent years.
3. RM thinks its 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster by Sindelfingen could go for $10 million or more. It was one-off special order for a Berlin businessman; it was delivered to him just a month before World War II started – and then it vanished. It turned up in 1962 in the dacha of a Russian general. There’s a real saga behind how it was finally taken out of the Soviet Union. Since then it has been displayed in museums, fully restored and presented last year at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance where it won a second in class.
4. In the annals of the storied Bugatti marque, “the Type 57S is universally regarded as an automotive masterpiece. It stands among the most important Bugatti automobiles ever built.” That is a rather bold, sweeping statement that Gooding is making in reference to the 1937 57SC Atalante coupe, with a pre-sale estimate of $10 million (and up), that it is offering. But, thing of it is, you’d have a hard time finding anyone to disagree. This one is among only 11 still known to exist. Want one? None of the other 10 are likely to come up for auction. Ever.
5. If you think you’ve previously seen this 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Cabriolet D’Avant-Garde, with coachwork by Saoutchik somewhere, you are not mistaken. It was on the upper lawn last year at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it won Best of Show. I don’t know how rare it is for a reigning Pebble Beach winner to be offered for auction, but it seems like a special opportunity to me. RM apparently thinks it’s pretty special too, with a pre-sale estimate of up to $9 million.
So, there’s my top five list. Will these cars really end up being the biggest sellers at this year’s blockbuster Pebble Beach auctions? There could be a dark horse that could score an upset, like RM’s 1955 D-Type Jaguar, or Gooding’s 1997 McLaren F1. Check back here after the sales, and I’ll let you know how clear my crystal ball was.
August 1, 2013