Monterey Auctions: 4 days, $300 million, the top 100 cars
Respected industry commentator Edward Legge best summed up the auction results of Monterey Car Week 2017 as "better than expected." He continued: "In fact, to put the sales in context against a background of global political and economic uncertainty, we could probably find three more words to describe them – pretty darn good."
To put it in context, we don't need to go back too far. Just over a decade ago, $50 million in sales was a good year in Monterey. Compared to 2004, nearly three times as many cars are offered, twice as many are sold and revenues have increased seven fold.
As David Attenborough so succinctly put it, "someone who believes in infinite growth is either a madman or an economist." So maybe having a passion that pays for itself in the medium term is not such bad business after all.
Every car is different though, and they're all lovable in their own way. That's why we favor being able to present images of each car and the price it fetched and offer the links so readers can quickly examine the provenance and more images. It's that granularity and the ability to easily see the key factors that we hope is working for you.
Our regular Monterey Car Week auction preview listed no less than 113 cars with estimates exceeding US$1 million. Read on for pictures of the most valuable cars and what happened to them.
$22,550,000 | 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 Number 1
The RM Sotheby's press release called it "the most important Aston Martin ever produced." Only five were made, and between them they won the 24 Hour of Le Mans and the World Sportscar Championship in 1959. The DBR1 also won the 1000 km Nürburgring race in 1957, 1958 and 1959, forever validating it had found the ideal balance of performance and handling to conquer endurance racing on the most demanding track in the world. This car won the third of those victories and helped dethrone Ferrari for the world title in 1959.
It is now the most expensive Aston Martin, the most expensive British car and the seventh most expensive automobile ever to sell at auction. It unseats a Le-Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type that previously held the British record at $21,780,000.
Official Auction Description: RM-SothebysLot 148
$15,620,000 | 1995 McLaren F1
No Official Estimate
Yet another record for the McLaren F1 and illustrative of a better informed marketplace bestowing historical perspective early on a milestone of automotive engineeering. Most collectible cars were made before 1970. The F1 is in its twenties, but already showing signs that it will challenge the Ferrari 250 GTO as the world's most desirable car.
Only 64 road-legal F1s were ever built and this car is one of just seven F1s federalized by Ameritech for legal road use in the United States.
Composite structure, naturally aspirated, the fastest road car in the world and then the rare feat of dominating Le Mans in a roadcar at the first attempt ... fairytales all round.
The F1 was already the most expensive modern car at auction, courtesy of the $13,750,000 paid for a 1998 McLaren F1 "LM-Specification" in Monterey 2015.
Official Auction Description: BonhamsLot 73
$14,520,000 | 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C
Estimate: $12,000,000 to $16,000,000
One of 12 GTB/Cs produced and raced extensively in period with many class and outright wins. This car is fully restored with original chassis and body, and matching numbers, plus it's a Pebble Beach Concours award winner. A 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale sold for $26,400,000 in 2014, and a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C sold for €5,712,000 ($7,860,622) in Monaco in 2014.
Official Auction Page: Gooding & CoLot 120
$14,080,000 | 1970 Porsche 917K
Estimate: $13,000,000 to $16,000,000
A brutally powerful Porsche 917K endurance racer with an amazing provenance. It set the fastest lap in the pre-Le Mans tests of 1970, was once owned by racing legend Jo Siffert (the car led his funeral procession) and was used by Steve McQueen's production company as both a camera and star car in the 1970 movie Le Mans. It then disappeared for 25 years and subsequently became one of the biggest "barn finds" in history when discovered in a warehouse outside Paris in 2001.
Official Auction Description: Gooding & CoLot 044
$8,305,000 | 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta
Estimate: $8,500,000 to $10,000,000
The hardtop version of the car that became the famed 250 GT California Spider, the model record stands at $11,439,774 (£7,392,000) while a Competizione variant sold for $13,500,000 by Gooding in 2016. It sure is pretty.
Official Auction Page: RM-SothebysLot 220
$8,000,000 | 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight
No Official Estimate
One of 12, the most recent example to reach auction ( January 2017) sold for $7,370,000. This car retains its original aluminum coachwork and matching-numbers alloy engine, so it is as authentic and original as possible. A GTO beater on its day in period, but not on the auction block, which is ironic considering it is the most desirable variant of the car Enzo Ferrari called "the most beautiful car in the world."
Official Auction Description: BonhamsLot 52
$6,765,000 | 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Prototype
Estimate: $6,000,000 to $8,000,000
The prototype of the world's fastest car at the time. Indeed, this prototype spawned the world's fastest car three times. Two telephone bidders duked it out with the two RM-Sotheby representatives standing side by side. That's the RM in RM Sothebys behind 9334: Rob Meyers.
Official Auction Description: RM-SothebysLot 147
$5,720,000 | 1955 Ferrari 121 LM Spider
Estimate: $6,500,000 to $7,500,000
The third of only four 121 LMs built and raced by Scuderia Ferrari, with starts including the 1955 Mille Miglia and 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans (driven by Maurice Trintignant and Harry Shell), where it was timed at 181.15 mph.
Official Auction Description: RM-SothebysLot 140
No Sale | 1980 Ferrari 312 T5 Formula 1
Jody Scheckter's main car in the 1980 season following his 1979 title win. It didn't win a race despite carrying the number one plate.
Official Auction Description: BonhamsLot 45