Enchanting cars and surprises at RM Sotheby’s in St. Moritz
Cliff Goodall’s view
The country of watches is rapidly becoming the country of auctions: there have already been two this year and on 17th September, the third one arrives in St. Moritz under the flag of RM Sotheby’s during the Bernina Gran Turismo race: the Canadian auction house has never put on an event in Switzerland but, after the huge success of the sale in Liechtenstein in June, it decided that the time was right to raise the stakes.
If you are in the mood for shopping, I suggest you pay them a visit: the estimates are definitely tempting and the quality of cars truly excellent – as is always the case with RM. Not only that, there’s also something rather special on offer, a lot that should grab everyone’s attention. The first of nine Pininfarina Leggenda driving simulators, made in a strictly limited numbered series for TCCT in celebration of the 90th anniversary of the Turin coachbuilder. An intriguing lot full of options, as indicated by the catalogue, and estimated between 120,000 and 150,000 Swiss francs (€110-140,000) without reserve.
Given the very positive results of the Monterey Car Week, there are several cars worth keeping an eye on here: a Lexus LFA, with 6,096 km on the clock and a very promising estimate: CHF 550,000-700,000 (€510,000-€650,000) is much lower than the €696,000 paid for another one a few weeks ago.
Then there are several cars from Mercedes-Benz worth looking at: a 1961 300SL Roadster (therefore with disc brakes but with a cast iron engine block), originally a US-spec car that was subsequently modified to European spec, is estimated at CHF 1-1.2m (€930,000-€1,115,000) including the hardtop, while a 1955 300SL Gullwing excellently restored thirty years is on offer for CHF 1.29-1.5m (€1.2-1.4m). These estimates are consistently around 20% less than their Pebble Beach equivalents.
Finally, the 1971 Dino 246 GT (CHF 325,000-375,000/€300,000-€350,000) and the 1973 Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera RS Touring (CHF 450,000-550,000/€420,000-€510,000) are both estimated at very low numbers.
Now we’ve got the “great deals” out of the way, what cars should we be keeping an eye on?
Certainly the Dallara Stradale: it is the first example to come to auction. Only one owner and just 172km from new and a manual gearbox. The estimate is comparable to the list price (CHF 200,000-250,000/€190,000-€230,000). My only doubt is what role that manual gearbox will play: it was available in both manual and double clutch versions and from all accounts the manual was the factory default. Instead, it turned out that 95% of the cars sold came with paddles. The manual is therefore a rare treat. It will be interesting to understand who will buy it: a “son of the wind” looking to beat his own record at the Nürburgring or a “son of a collector” looking to put it in the garage and wait for its value to increase?
The 1953 Fiat 8V is another lot on my radar: the last one sold more than a year ago and, in periods of such sudden changes, 12 months is an eternity. Also, compared to the previous one, this lot is in another league. It has participated in Villa d’Este and Schloss Dyck (where it won its class award), it is a very rare first series – only 34 examples were built compared to 80 of the second – and it was meticulously restored in Italy. The estimate of CHF 1.3-1.5m (€1.2-€1.35 million) is identical to the previous offer, but I would have no doubts in choosing this one. It’s a delicious find. I fully expect it to exceed its estimate.
Another model worth keeping an eye on is the 1989 Porsche 959 with just 961 km on the clock. This particular model didn’t turn up at Pebble Beach but since its direct competitors (Ferrari F40, F50 and McLaren F1) all set new records just a few weeks ago, I expect great things of it. To play among the greats, you will need somewhere in the region of CHF 1.5-1.7 m (€1.4-€1.6 m) but to take it home…? Well, we will know how much that took in a few weeks.
However my favourite lot remains the 2002 McLaren MP4-17D. I wouldn’t know what to do with it. I would probably leave it in the garage and on some nights, I would simply sit inside it breathing in the air of David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen who it was made for, imagining myself winning the 2003 Australian GP. With one small difference: I would be dreaming but the car won it for real…
And the last lot? It would appear to be the very first Pininfarina Leggenda produced: the first of 9. What car is it? More than one actually: a magnificent driving simulator designed by Pininfarina for TCCT. With this masterpiece, you can drive a Ferrari GTO and an F40, a Shelby Cobra and a Ford GT 40 on the world’s most famous tracks. And much more. The price? We will see. However, it is far less than those of the cars it lets you drive and enjoy! A bargain, in a certain sense…