Amazed. That’s how I reacted to the Gooding auction held on 7th May. It’s a well-known fact that the Californian auction house always manages to bring extraordinary cars to their events (just think of last September’s London auction), but organizing an online auction is quite different from a physical one: the location is missing, the atmosphere and truly special cars are a rare sight indeed. After the modest results from RM in the spring using the same technique, I was anticipating a decline in this type of sale.
And yet Gooding managed to demonstrate that auctioneer-less sales still have plenty of aces up their sleeves. The numbers speak for themselves: 44 cars sold out of 47 translates to a very healthy 93.62% success rate, while total sales of $16,131,500 (€13,260.174) almost reached the estimated $16,355,000 (€13,443,892) in takings (including unsold lots).
And while I’m here with my jaw on the ground, I’d like to share the stories of four lots that left their mark, even going so far as setting some new world records.
While the top lot was an aluminium-bodied Ferrari 275 GTB/4, which however stopped just north of the reserve threshold at $3,586,000 (€2,947,709), compared with its estimate ($3.75-4.5 million), the lot that created the most attention during the sale was #31. A 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa. The first owner, Enrico Wax, was one of Ferrari’s most prolific customers: he ordered no fewer than 15 between 1950 and 1974, often unique models. This example was also personalized but it didn’t stay long in Wax’s garage because in 1960 it was already in America in the hands of the same owner who, in November 2020, sold it to the consignor. The car has never been restored, most likely the very last one left in this condition. Gooding’s sales estimate of $2.2-2.6 million (€1.8-2.1 million), was decidedly high in my opinion, considering that a fully restored specimen went unsold last year after receiving a maximum offer of $1.35 million. Before the auction I was already calling it a “dead duck,” who would spend a million dollars more to buy something that needed to be restored? Gooding disproved my theory and confirmed its own: sold for $2,222,000 (€1,826,495). Well done.
I am a huge fan of the Jaguar E-Type, a popular model that often turns up at auction houses, which makes it easy to decide whether one has been sold or bought “well”. The 1966 Jaguar E-Type S1 4.2 FHC offered here had never been restored and, with 27,500 miles on the clock, it was the perfect candidate for the preservation class at the most prestigious Concours d’Elegance competitions. The estimate of $140-180,000 (€115-150k) seemed decidedly high, though. But it wasn’t just me who was wrong: not even Gooding came close to the final sale price and a (well-motivated) bidder took it home for $253,000 (€207,967).
Remember the Meyers Manx that sold in January for $101,200? Well, it seemed strange to me that the example here was estimated at $30-50,000 (€25-40k), especially considering the beautiful restoration and addition of numerous accessories in addition to being hand-signed by Bruce Meyers himself (the founder). But there’s a curiosity at play here: in 2007, this buggy – in need of restoration at the time – was mistaken for a rifle. $59,400 (€48,827) for a rifle… a bargain.
Sure, they only made 14 (and just 2 in the Blutorange orange) of the 1993 Porsche 968 Turbo S. The Porsche transaxle has never really made a lasting impression among Porsche purists who prefer the 911. I would have estimated this model, which was never officially imported into the USA, with 64,000 km on the clock, at $150-200,000 (€125-165k). And yet… the experts rated it at almost 10 times as much: $1-1,250,000 (unreserved). Madness? Not exactly as it sold for $792,000 (€651,027). Needless to say, the previous record for a front-engine Porsche wasn’t just beaten, it was pulverized. In this market, it is forbidden to be surprised!