Seeing that both RM and Bonhams were not stopped by the lockdown and simply changed their strategy with online sales, Gooding plucked up the courage and at the beginning of July announced that it too would organize a virtual alternative to the Monterey classic. In reality, the Californian auction house was perhaps somewhat shy about brandishing the top lots (although there were no shortage of big-calibre items), perhaps waiting to “make a splash” with some upcoming physical auction. In the meantime, it has announced that it had re-scheduled the London auction due to be held in April to the 5th September. We’ll follow that one very closely indeed.
When, on the evening of 7th August, online offers closed (they used a method similar to RM with online offers followed by 4 days for additional bids, unlike Bonhams who placed an auctioneer in front of a camera and gave bidders 4-5 minutes per lot), a great number of smiles broke out in Santa Monica, even if just 66.66% of the cars on offer were sold (34 out of 51) as all the “blue chips” changed hands and the total takings amounted to over $14.3 million, a good 72.5% of the $19.7 million on offer. And this does not include the automobilia on offer.
And it is automobilia that gave us the lot that kept bidders, experts and inquisitive attendees holding their breath the longest. We don’t usually talk about automobilia, but this time it was really worth it. The object in question was a NART sign, once belonging to the team founded by Luigi Chinetti that went down in history for its countless victories with Ferraris. Measuring some 3.6 metres long and 1.2 metres high, it had an American flag in the centre (incomprehensible with 11 stars, perhaps the number of affiliates within its network?) and tons of patina in testament to its originality. Estimated at between $10-15,000, it was soon clear that this object was destined to sparkle because it had already exceeded its maximum estimate halfway through the auction. After a myriad of raises it was finally sold for $51,250. No doubt that made Matthew Ettinger happy, the Ferrari collector who put it up for sale.
Even the cars made Gooding’s experts smile. The sale was dominated by Ferraris (with the four highest-priced sales) and the top lot went to the 1966 275 GTB/6C Longnose. Chassis #8921 was delivered new to Italy and crossed the Atlantic in 1969, and from that moment, its history was exceptionally well recorded by Marcel Massini. Totally preserved with 81,000 km from new (of which only 2,000km over the last 33 years) and the necessary booklets and tools, it was presented in the particular colour of White with a beige leather interior. Estimated at $2.75-3.25 million, it was sold for $3,080,000, a new record for a car sold at an online auction.
What would you think of if I mentioned the name Al Holbert? Probably IMSA, NASCAR or Le Mans. Not me. I’m reminded of a 1979 Porsche 930 Turbo in mellow yellow (Chiffon Yellow) and brown interior. The car is an “old friend” of mine as I’ve already seen it on the market a number of times so I was just curious to see how it would go. The economic history of this car is a condensed version of the last 15 years of the historic car market. In 2008, it was sold for $40,700, and after 7 years it was sold once again at Amelia Island for $253,000 (at the time a monstrous price for this model). Do you think the person who bought it made a deal or not? Well, with just 2,000 miles more, the car was offered for $200-250,000 but the bids failed to exceed the threshold of $105,000. It seems superfluous to comment on who made a good deal and who didn’t. It is now available through private sale for $125,000…
Another car, another trend. This time it’s a comparison between a 1971 Porsche and a 1934 Duesenberg. What? What comparison is that? Well, they had the same estimate of $950-1,250,000. The Porsche was a 911 2.5 ST prepared for rally-raids (it participated in the 1971 East African Safari rally), and the Duesenberg, a Model J Town Car LWB with bodywork by Murphy, The moment the auction started the Porsche jumped into the lead and reached an offer of $570,000 while the Duesenberg first stalled at $350,000. Then the tables were turned and from the third day the raises on the German car stopped while the “tortoise” Duesenberg continued unabated. How did the story end? The Porsche went unsold at $630,000 while the Duesenberg changed hands for $1,012.000. While you’re reading that number, how about we dispel the theory that pre-war cars don’t sell online, after all, as is always the case, it’s what sells that counts. A trend worth following.
This time I’m being slightly “biased” with the car I would have taken home because… I already have one in my garage! Or rather, I owned an identical example for seven years and I sold it, a terrible mistake!. The car in question was a 1971 Lancia Fulvia Coupé S2 1.3S in light blue with faux ochre leather interior. Out of curiosity mine was amaranth rose-red with black interior but apart from that they were identical, even the steering wheel had wear and tear in the exact same spot! I have hundreds of fond memories… Estimated at $30-40,000 it was sold for $29,700 and was worth every cent. But then I’m biased.