Herbie does it again ... and again ... and again
Three Herbies with screen time in the sixth and last of the Herbie movie franchise, Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) went up for sale in Monterey, all with estimates in the US$30,000 to $40,000 range. They sold for $107,250, $93,500 and $77,000, respectively (see our top 200 cars sold in Monterey report), becoming three of the top 10 most valuable Volkswagen Beetles ever sold, and two of the top 100 most valuable movie cars ever sold.
The value of cars with movie provenance continues to soar, dragging prices of similar cars with them. Just as James Bond's silver Aston Martin DB5 forever immortalized the model and made other examples of the DB5 far more valuable at auction, Herbie has done likewise for the Volkswagen Beetle.
Whereas Volkswagen was reluctaant to become involved in the the original five films of the franchise that began in 1968, it helped considerably in the 2005 film, as well it might have given the amount of love the films have generated for the iconic Beetle upon which Volkswagen's reputation was built.
In our research, we have found that 39 of the top 50 most valuable Volkswagen Beetles have been sold in the three years since a Herbie that featured in the 1980 feature film Herbie Goes Bananas set a then world record for a Volkswagen Beetle at $126,500, perhaps validating the Volkswagen Beetle as a bonafide collectible in the mind of the public.
That exact same world record Volkswagen went to auction again in April of this year, breaking its own world record with a new high mark of $128,700.
Movie cars appear to be appreciating rapidly
Another indication that movie car provenance is becoming a potent variable in the complex auction value equation is that one of the three convincing Ferrari 250GT Spyder California replicas made by Modena and used in the shooting of the hit movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, went to auction in Monterey.
The Modena Spider is a fiberglass V8-engined replica of a Ferrari 250 GT California Spider, except instead of being worth more than $15 million like a genuine Ferrari, it isn't normally worth much at all – unless it has appeared in a hit movie.
All three of the faux Ferraris used in Ferris Bueller's Day Off have now been to auction, with the first of the three selling in 2010 for £79,600 (US$121,493), and the second selling for $230,000 in 2013 at Pebble Beach.
The Modena that sold this week went to auction with an estimate of $250,000 to $300,000, but became the most valuable so far. The $370,000 hammer price pictured above was subject to a 10 percent buyers premium that calculates to $407,000 and indicates that prices have essentially tripled in the space of eight years.
The Herbies sold in Monterey
The three Herbies ran in consecutive lots on Friday at Mecum Auctions, with the first car, Lot F136, being the most extreme Herbie ever built. During the movie, Herbie plays a number of different "roles" and one of them is as a NASCAR, hence the roll-cage visible in the car when the door is open.
This car was one of three built to outrageous performance specifications, with a 2300cc engine breathing through two 48mm Weber carburetors (see the massive air filters visible in each side of the engine bay) and driving through a four-speed racing transmission. Each of the three NASCAR Herbies cost about $75,000 to build, with $20,000 of that spent on the drivetrain, which accounts for why, during testing at Irwindale Speedway and California Speedway, this car was clocked at 138 mph (222 km/h).
It is hence understandable that this should be the most desirable of all Herbies, and why only one non-Herbie Volkswagen beetle has ever sold for more – the near-perfect 1960 Volkswagen Beetle of writer-actor-comedian Jerry Seinfeld sold for $121,000 at a Gooding & Company auction held during the Amelia Island Concours in March, 2016. Indeed, at that price, this car became the third most valuable Volkswagen Beetle in history.
The second car to sell, Lot F137, was arguaby just as desirable, as this was the "street racer" Herbie in the film, and it was the "hero car," the best-looking, most visually accurate car reserved for close-up scenes. Hence, this car would have been the one used whenever Maggie Peyton (played by Lindsay Lohan in the film) was filmed inside Herbie.
Strangely, it was the cheapest of the three Herbies when the hammer fell at $70,000 ($77,000 with buyers commission), but it still managed to become the seventh most valuable Volkswagen Beetle in history at that price.
The surprise of the auction was the final lot, F138, which was the car used to play the "junkyard Herbie," the rundown beetle that is riddled with rust, but wins Maggie Peyton's heart, is rescued and subsequently restored as Street Racer Herbie. Lot 138 was the "hero car" used for the close up shots of the rundown Herbie in the film, and when it sold for $93,500, it became the fourth most valuable Volkswagen Beetle in history.
Well done Herbie!