Market and auctions

Monterey. Litmus paper

Cliff Goodall’s view

Photo credit: Bonhams, Gooding, RM Sotheby’s, Mecum

There are only a few hours left before the “Collector’s Car Olympics”, better known as Monterey Car Week, and I am eager to see what will happen.

Since August two years ago, the world has transformed: with Covid-19, online auctions have become a valid alternative to the point that today, on the web, supercars worth hundreds of thousands of euros regularly change hands. But, while the big auction houses have “plugged a hole” in 2020 with their virtual sales, now Bonhams, Gooding, RM and Mecum return to the field with their tried and tested approaches.

And it is in this weekend that we will understand where we really are with the “super-ultra-top” market. While we wait for the results to come in, here are some “pointers” on what to follow.

Gooding is the official home of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and we know that when the going gets tough Gooding is always on the frontline. Two lots in particular are worth watching carefully. The first is the 1995 McLaren F1. Last year, I wrote about the market for this model and how it had been steadily rising for a decade now. They occasionally come onto the market and the most successful one was sold for almost 20 million dollars. I am going to stick my neck out and predict that this particular model may well exceed that sum. Even their experts agree and have given it an estimate of “over 15 million”. Ready for a new record?

1995 McLaren F1
1995 McLaren F1 estimated in excess of $15,000,000 (€12,650,000)

With a more “modest” budget (which is a relative concept as we’re still in Pebble Beach), I’d also keep an eye on the 1967 Porsche 911 2.0S Soft Window Targa. The estimate made our antennas stand up: $350,000-$450,000, which would have been a crazy figure if it weren’t for the fact that during the spring on an online site, a similar one was sold for over $400,000. To justify its commissions, Gooding has an obligation: at least reach this threshold!

1967 Porsche 911 2.0 S Soft-Window Targa
1967 Porsche 911 2.0 S Soft-Window Targa estimated $350-450,000 (€300-340,000)

The other giant of Monterey is RM, which this year decided to bring cars worth a total combined estimate of over €190 million dollars. Although I would dream of having the Porsche 917 in Gulf livery estimated at between $16 and $18.5 million in my garage, I will be far more interested in the two Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato and the Sanction II. The latter, produced by Aston Martin themselves, is estimated at $3-4 million. The original is worth a minimum of $11 million. It will be interesting to see the true relationship between the “real” one and a posthumous twin sister.

1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato
1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato estimated $11-14,000,000 (€9,5-12,000,000)

For exactly the same reason I will be closely following the DB4 GT Sanction at Bonhams and the original DB4 GT at Gooding, while it will be very interesting to see how the E-Type Lightweight Continuation will go down: the only other one to come to market was sold in October for $1.7 million, but this particular market is a very narrow one and a second model could drop the prices. The estimate is between $1.5 and $1.85 million, which in my book would appear to be a stretch too far.

1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Continuation
1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Continuation estimated $1,5-1,850,000 (€1,2-1,500,000)

A little further down the list here is something worth following carefully: it is another Jaguar E-Type, only this time it’s a real S1 3.8 Roadster with external hooks. The estimate is between $275,000 and $325,000. Not too long ago that would have been very low but in the last two years the value of the versions with external hooks has aligned with the normal models. This example has a premium of 50%, so we look forward to seeing see how it goes.

1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8-Litre Roadster
1961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8-Litre Roadster estimated $275-325,000 (€230-275,000)

From Bonhams, cars from the extremes will show us the direction the market will take in the future.

On the one hand, the queens of the Concours d’Elegance, those “dinosaurs” produced close to the war that are regularly written off but each year rise from their ashes like phoenixes. It has long been said that they have no market, but in 2020 the five most expensive cars were all from the ’30s. For this reason, it’s worth following the 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Cabriolet by Figoni & Falaschi and the 1928 Mercedes Type S Kompressor 26/120/180 Tourer. Two perfect lots to see whether the niche is thriving.

1928 Mercedes-Benz 26:120:180 Tourer
1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 Tourer estimated $3-4,000,000 (€2,5-3,400,000)

On the other side of the spectrum, we have an Alfa Romeo 33 TT12 from 1974. With the other example offered at Goodwood that went unsold, we’ll have to wait and see what happens with the endurance cars from the ’70s. Two numbers to keep an eye on: £1.3 million (roughly $1.7 million); the maximum offer received for the example at Goodwood, and $1.8 million, the offer this particular example received in 2018, once again in Pebble Beach. The estimate of $1.7-$2,200,000 should be a good omen for the sale.

1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT12
1974 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 TT12 estimated $1,7-2,200,000 (€1,4-1,800,000)

We will close with Mecum, which once again this year will bring some 600 cars to the sale.

Here you will be spoiled for choice: for Shelby cars, there will be two Cobras, a 289 and a 427 S/C (which stands for semi-competition), just as many GT500s; a Convertible from 1968 and a Fastback from 1970. Then a pair of GT350s, the “cheaper” H model estimated at $200,000-250,000 and an R that won almost every race it entered, with bids starting at $1.25 million. And, to complete the picture, there will also be the 1999 Series 1 that belonged to Carroll Shelby himself.

1967 Shelby 427 S:C Cobra
1967 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra estimated $2,8- 3,000,000 (€2,3-2,500,000)

I’m also curious to see how the Delahaye Type 135 Competition Court Teardrop from 1936 will behave, a courageous test on the overall state of health of Mecum: famous for American muscle cars, they are offering a French pre-war the with an estimate of $5-$6,000,000. Definitely a gamble. But we’re in Monterey and this could well be the top lot, and if that were the case, it would demonstrate the skill of the team from Wisconsin and their ability to attract all kinds of customers, opening up new market segments for them. Segments that virtual offers are not (for the moment) able to satisfy.

1965 Shelby GT350R Fastback
1965 Shelby GT350R Fastback estimated $1,2-1,500,000 (€1-1,250,000)

We have forgotten to mention the Ferraris, or rather, I left them until last because they are so important and transversal, they actually form the backbone of this week of auctions. There will be dozens of them, with budgets from less than $100,000 to over $10,000,000, from ’50s Berlinetta’s to ’70s spiders and finally modern hypercars. Also for this brand, Monterey will tell us many things.

What a wait!