Along with the RM and Gooding auctions, which spearhead Monterey week, Bonhams and Mecum also came to town in this “paradise of historical cars”.
However, there’s a big difference: for RM and Gooding, Monterey represents the peak of the year while Bonhams and Mecum holds auctions on various dates throughout the season. The different positioning is also clear when you take a look at the average prices of the cars sold: $871,000 for RM, $961,000 for Gooding against $159,740 for Mecum and $241,242 for Bonhams.
In addition to the average price, the numbers of the two auctions highlight the difference in the intended target: at Mecum with 431 lots on offer, the estimated value was $72,731.500 (€61,821,775) while Bonhams brought 138 cars for an estimated value of $36,985,000 (€31,437,250).
In the end, Mecum sold 340 lots and took home $54,311,450 (€46,164,733), including $3,567,300 on Thursday when the cars were without estimate, while Bonhams, on its only evening (13th August), managed to sell 120 lots with a total sales value of $34,058,040 (€28,949,334).
Once again, the market responded very well and these two auctions confirmed some interesting trends.
The first one undoubtedly came from Bonhams who presented two stunning lots worthy of Pebble Beach. The first was a recently restored and meticulously documented (and therefore forgery-proof) 1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/120/180 Supercharged Sports Tourer. The estimate was $3-$4 million (€2.55-€3.4 million). The other was a 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Cabriolet with coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi. With a wonderful history even if the car, unfortunately, was not presented in its original colour. The estimate was between $1.8 and $2.3 million (€1.55-€2 million).
The importance of these cars lay in understanding whether the market was still willing to spend million-dollar sums for cars in this segment and if the market that was younger than a few years ago would “welcome” them. The answer is yes: for the Talbot-Lago, the sale came within its estimate: $1,875,000 (€1,593,750). For the Mercedes-Benz, a flurry of offers and counter bids broke out and, in the end, it was sold for $5,395,000 (€4,585,750), almost 80% more than the minimum estimate!
Mecum, whose specialty is either American or post-war cars with budgets of up to $250,000, failed to find a new owner for the 1936 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Teardrop Coupe, a car totally out of its range of activity. Against an estimate of $5-$6 million (€4.25-€5.1 million) – which would have been correct, offers stopped at $4,000,000 (€3,400,000), and from there they did not move.
Had it been offered at RM or Bonhams, things would probably have been very different and the pre-war trilogy would have been completed.
Let’s take another case: the Fiat 600 Jolly from 1964. At Mecum, one of the last examples produced in bright orange and subject to a highly detailed, nut-and-bolt restoration, was correctly estimated at $90,000-$110,000 (€76,500-€93,500) but it didn’t manage to reach it and it finally changed hands for $75,900 (€64,515). From Gooding, there was another 600 Jolly. This time one of the first ones produced in 1959, pink, and once again fresh from a painstaking restoration. The estimate was lower, $75,000-$95,000 (€63,750-€72,250) but the final selling price was $145,600 (€123,760). So in the space of a few hours these two cars were sold for diametrically opposed sums. Just like I the real estate market, the value of the “location”, obviously also applies to cars.
Let’s turn our attention to the Ford GT, in particular to those produced between 2004 and 2006.
At the beginning of this year, I carefully studied the market of this model and saw that during the second half of 2020, 24 examples of this model were sold (at both physical and online auctions) – plus 4 Heritage Editions – with sales figures of between $253,000/€215,050 and $343,000/€291,550 (for the Heritage version, the price was $330,000-$510,000/€280,000-€435,000). I think you’ll understand my amazement when I saw the estimates at the various auctions: Mecum was the one that offered the most: 4 with mileages of between 3.7 and 2,205 miles. The one with the highest mileage was sold for $346,500 (€294,525), the one with the lowest mileage for $440,000 (€374,000), and in comparison, this was a great deal. From RM they even sold a model with just 255 miles on the clock for $555,000 (€471,750, with an estimate of $350,000-$450,000/€297,000-€383,000). The only Heritage Edition of the weekend was from Mecum: 620 miles for $605,000 (€514,250), again above the estimate of $550,000-$600,000 (€467,000-€510,000). Without a shadow of a doubt the trend is on its way up.
What about the Porsche Carrera GT? Mecum offered the only example on sale at all the auctions. With just 3,570 miles from new (not too little, considering that these cars are generally “garage queens”) and with the typical GT Silver with black interior colour combination, it could rightly be considered a perfect example to understand the trend. The estimate of $900,000-$1,000,000 (€765,000-€850,000) was slightly high – examples with similar mileage go for anywhere between $750,000 and $800,000 (€637,000-€680,000) – but in the end it changed hands for $1,210,000 (€1,028,500). Maybe it was just a coincidence but considering the interest in youngtimers from the 90s (and the Ford GT), this could be the next “red-hot” sector.
Where could I get the money for these purchases from? I would definitely sell the 70s Maseratis. The prices of these models are falling, and if ever there was a need, Monterey confirmed this trend. With the exception of the two Ghibli (a 4.7 and a 4.9 SS) sold by Bonhams and Gooding, no other model reached its target estimate. A Khamsin 4.9 in need of some work was the one that fared better: $47,040 (€39,984) against a (very low) estimate of $50,000-$60,000 (€42,500-€51,000). A 1977 Merak SS did much worse: although it had an estimate of $80,000-$100,000 (€68,000-€85,000, quite low considering it had only 13,000 miles on the clock), it struggled to reach $53,200 (€45,220), about two thirds of what the seller had hoped for.
The Bora, which not too long ago saw prices around and above the $250,000 mark (€212,500), have already revised their estimates to $180,000-$220,000 (€153,000-€187,000) and $120,000-$150,000 (€102,000-€127,500) for two examples but the market has further adjusted expectations. The most expensive one was sold for $143,360 or €121,856, -20%) while the cheapest example changed hands for $113,000 (€96,050). A reduction of approximately 6%.
Also for Lancia prices are down. Of the seven Lancias on offer, only three were sold and just one Fulvia Coupé hit its estimate. From Bonhams, an Aurelia B24S Spider America from 1955 received offers for $1.05 million (€892,500), against an estimate of $1.1-$1.3 million (€935,000-€1,105,000), and returned to the seller (another RM model also went unsold), while the same thing happened to a 1950 Aurelia B50 Cabriolet Pininfarina when offers stopped at $120,000 (€102,000) while the owner was expecting somewhere between $150,000-$200,000 (€128,000-€170,000). Things went slightly better at Mecum: a 1960 Flaminia 2.5 Convertible Touring was sold for $71,500 (€60,775) but the estimate was much higher: $90,000-$130,000 (€76,500-€110,000).