Market and auctions

The only lot without wheels leads the way at RM Sotheby’s in St. Moritz

Cliff Goodall’s view

Photo credit: RM Sotheby’s

The RM auction in St. Moritz (Switzerland) held on 17th September was of a very high level, not only for the fact that it was at 1,822 metres above sea level, but also for calibre of the cars on offer.

Some numbers to put everything into context: despite just 23 cars up for sale, their combined total was estimated at CHF 18,205,000 (€16,811,055), which equates to roughly CHF 791,521 (€730,915) per car. That’s Pebble Beach territory.

Performance Dashboard St. Moritz
Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

Also, the fact that only one was offered without reserve did not put off the buyers, as 17 cars (73,91%) were sold for a total of CHF 16,302,625 (€15,066,705) (or 89,5% of the pre-auction estimate) or, if you prefer, CHF 958,978 (€886,276) per car. Much more than the initial estimates.

Average Price St. Moritz Auction
Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

The top lot of the auction however, in my opinion, was not a car but… a simulator. If you have been following us for some time, you will know that the first of the nine “Leggenda” simulators developed by Pininfarina for TCCT was offered at this auction. I was in St. Moritz and had the chance to try out this “adult’s toy”. Truly fantastic, but I was not the only one who thought that way, as the numerous bidders who attempted to take it home clearly demonstrated: despite the fact that the initial estimate (CHF 120,000-150,000) was not for every wallet, it was sold for CHF 192,000 (€175,000), some 53% above its minimum estimate. In fact, it was the lot with the greatest gap between estimate and final sale price of the entire event, together with the Aston Martin One-77. And it was also the first one to go on sale: a great signal for the rest of the auction.

Pininfarina Leggenda eClassic Simulator
Pininfarina Leggenda eClassic Simulator sold for CHF192,000 (€175,000)

Moving on to cars, the second lot with the greatest rise was the 1988 Porsche 959 Komfort that once belonged to the Qatari Royal Family: with just 961 km on the clock from new, this example was unquestionably the best on the market. With the surge in prices of its direct competitors during the Pebble Beach auctions (F40 above all but also the F50, Bugatti EB110 and let’s not forget the McLaren F1), the estimate of CHF 1.5-1.7 million seemed to me nothing short of prudent. The market agreed with me and it was sold for CHF 1,973,750 (€1,822,600), a fraction under the two million threshold I was betting on. Needless to say, it’s a new record for a 959 Komfort.

1988 Porsche 959 Komfort
1988 Porsche 959 Komfort sold for CHF1,973,750 (€1,822,600)

After this model, there were three more cars that particularly interested me, because they had already appeared a couple of years ago and I was curious to see how this specific market would have evolved.

The first was a 1946 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet built by Graber of Switzerland, a particularly highly regarded local coachbuilder from the end of the war. In August 2019, during the Pebble Beach auctions, the owner rejected an offer of $400,000 (roughly CHF 380,000) because it did not reflect the estimated value of $450,000-$550,000 that the house experts had anticipated. Offered this time in Europe, the owner had to accept a cut in the estimate that fell to CHF 275,000-325,000, more than 30% less than the offer from two years ago and, therefore, I assume he did so reluctantly. It turned out to be the right amount, as it sold for CHF 297,500 (€274,720). Such is the market.

1946 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet
1946 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet by Graber sold for CHF297,500 (€274,720)

RM fully deserved to be congratulated for what it managed to pull off with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz G500 Cabriolet Final Edition. One of just 200 examples produced, black with black interior and beige soft top, this model had already been seen on a previous occasion. In September 2019, it was proposed by Bonhams at Cheserex (also in Switzerland) with an estimate of CHF 280,000-330,000 and just over 4,000 km on the clock. At the time, the offers had stopped at CHF 235,000. After having driven it for another two years, taking it to 5,452 km, RM offered it with an estimate of CHF 300,000-350,000. Once the auctioneer reached CHF 250,000 (in my book a maximum offer), I slowly began to lose grip of all logic because the offers simply didn’t stop coming. In the end, with genuine amazement, it was sold for CHF 387,500 (€357,800). I am truly without words, if not compliments.

2014 Mercedes-Benz G500 Cabriolet Final Edition
2014 Mercedes-Benz G500 Cabriolet Final Edition sold for CHF387,500 (€357,800)

From the same auction as the Mercedes was also a Ferrari 599 SA Aperta. One of the 80 units built, it was purchased in September 2019 for CHF 996,425 (when the estimate was CHF 1-1.2 million). In St. Moritz, the estimate had jumped: CHF 1.2-1.6 million and the offers stopped at CHF 1,100,000 (€1,015,750). The seller quickly calculated that, after commissions, he would not make a big enough profit and the car was withdrawn.

2011 Ferrari SA Aperta
2011 Ferrari SA Aperta went unsold at CHF1,100,000 (€1,015,750)

My favourite car of the auction was undoubtedly the McLaren MP4-17D Formula 1 which was my (expensive) alternative to the TCCT simulator. It’s even more beautiful in real life than in pictures and I fantasized about it for more than half an hour, imagining myself driving it, virtually, from my garage. Of course like any collector’s car, the fact that it was originally a MP4-17A which was then transformed into an MP4-17D cooled the offers somewhat, and in the end the offers never reached its CHF 2-2.5 million estimate and the new owner took it home for CHF 1,973,750 (€1,822,600), making it the second most-expensive lot (ex-aequo the Porsche 959 Komfort), behind just the 1958 BMW 507 Roadster which sold for CHF 2,142,500 (€1,978,450), making it the Top Lot of the event.

2002 McLaren MP4 17D
2002 McLaren MP4 17D sold for CHF1,973,750 (€1,822,600)

I thought that the best deal of the day was going to be the 2011 Lexus LFA. One of just 44 examples that left the factory in white, it had covered just 6,096 km from new. As I have already mentioned, LFA prices have risen in value recently, and at Pebble Beach an example with about 700 km on the clock was sold for almost $820,000 (roughly CHF 750,000), so the estimate of CHF 550,000-700,000 seemed a little low to me. Instead, with an offer of CHF 540,000 (€498,650), the deal was made more by the buyer than the seller, who certainly hoped for a better result.

2011 Lexus LFA
2011 Lexus LFA sold for CHF540,000 (€498,650)
1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II
1958 BMW 507 Roadster Series II sold for CHF2,142,500 (€1,978,315)
2012 Aston Martin One-77
2012 Aston Martin One-77 sold for CHF1,720,625 (€1,588,750)