That very particular Italian charm of knowing how to combine art and technique, is perhaps best expressed in the automobile. For this reason, the first instalment of our detailed analyses of the results of the recent Pebble Beach auctions is dedicated to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo and Maserati.
Let’s begin from the car all eyes were focused on: the 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider, ex-factory then ex-Carroll Shelby. The estimate of $25m-$30m was gigantic and would have made it the eighth most expensive car ever sold at an auction (six of which are by Ferrari), but it also accounted for 10% of the total value of the cars offered by RM. The good news is that it was sold, the slightly less good news is that it stopped at $22,005,000, 12% below its minimum estimate. Of course, with this figure it still remains within the top 10 but confirms what I indicated last year about a decline in demand for historic Ferraris. In my opinion there is more than one reason behind this trend: the decreasing number of memories from those years. Our studies have confirmed a correlation between the age of the collector and the car chosen because he or she remembers them, and the 1950s are long gone now. In addition, the very high prices today do not guarantee they will move upwards tomorrow, which instead, as we will see shortly, happens for the most recent Ferraris.
Let’s take a look at the two categories starting from the Ferrari 250 Tour de France. There were three for sale at auction: the one from RM, the only one that kept the flag flying, was sold for $5,340,000 against an estimate of $5m-$6m, from Mecum another with an estimate of $4m-$4.5m changed hands for $2,860,000, while the one from Broad Arrow Group that was rumoured to be owned by Sebastian Vettel returned to its owner’s garage (estimated at $6m-$7m).
The same goes for the Ferrari 250 California LWB from RM. The estimate of $7m-$8.5m was low (in 2019 we were close to $10 million) but to sell it for $5,972,500 the seller had to accept a pretty large drop in his expectations.
On the contrary, the more recent models, albeit in very different price ranges, went very well, often setting new records in the process: of the 10 Ferraris that amazed everyone by exceeding their estimates, 8 were less than 30 years old. This is the case of the Testarossa from 1988 with 6,600 miles on the clock, Ferrari Classiche certification and a very rare Metallic Brown colour, estimated at $150,000-$225,000 and sold for $302,000.
And that’s not all: the Ferrari 512M, the latest evolution of the Testarossa family which previously could be found for somewhere between $300,000-$350,000 was proposed by both Gooding and RM with stratospheric estimates: $500,000-$600,000 for an example with 7,200 miles on the clock and $475,000-$550,000 for another with 9,000 miles to its credit. The market went above and beyond: $720,000 for Gooding’s and $780,500 for RM.
Another record was set for the Ferrari Enzo at $4,130,000 (Gooding) and for the LaFerrari, which changed hands for $3,910,000 at Broad Arrow Auction, while excellent results were obtained for the 599 GTO with 1,550 miles at $940,000 (estimate $650,000-$750,000) and for the 458 Speciale Aperta with just 98 miles since new, which went for $962,500 at Mecum.
I’ve kept the Ferrari F50 till last with two sales, one from Broad Arrow (5,000 miles) at $5,175,000 and one from Gooding (7,200 miles, ex-Mike Tyson) at $4,625,000. I took a look at the sales prices at Pebble Beach in 2015: the F50 at the time fetched $1,320,000…
I will conclude this analysis on Ferrari with the iconic F40: of the four presented, the worst was offered by Broad Arrow Group, which had 26,000 miles on the clock, followed by one at Mecum with 15,000, RM with 9,900 and one at Gooding with just 1,832 miles. The sales prices suffered: the cheapest at $1,985,000 then $2,310,000 for Mecum. The other two however were on another planet: $3,855,000 for RM and $3,965,000 for Gooding, disintegrating the previous record. A comparison? Just twelve months ago an example with less than 16,000 miles on the clock was sold for $1,600,000. Talk about price elasticity…
Remaining in the family, the growth of the exclusive “Chairs and Flares” version of the Dino 246 GTS (identifiable by its Daytona-style seats (the “chairs”) and extended wheel arches (the “flares”)), is also important. With an estimate set at $550,000-$650,000, it had every chance of exceeding the current record, set in May at €539,000. And it did just that, going for a very healthy $802,500.
Let’s move on to the lights and shadows of Lamborghini: of the 21 cars on offer, only 12 found a new buyer, The thing that surprised me the most, is that individual examples shone brighter than the models themselves.
Let’s take the icon par excellence, the Miura. Three cars were offered. From Broad Arrow Group there was a silver-coloured 1969 S, estimated at $1.6m-$1.9m that stopped at $1.5m. Unsold. In contrast, Bonhams’ other S, without reserve, in a bright lime green (and a mind-blowing restoration), was sold for nearly half a million dollars more, at $1,957,500. Even better, the 1968 “first edition” yellow P400 model at RM, estimated $800,000-$1m and sold for $995,000.
For the Countach, a 1984 LP5000 S with 5,495 km to its credit went for a truly excellent $1,061,000 against an estimate of $700,000-$900,000. Another story entirely for the three more recent 25th Anniversary models: one sold below its estimate ($555,000 versus $575,000-$650,000) and the other two went unsold.
The Diablos, on the other hand, struggled throughout the week with two unsold VT Coupes and two Roadsters (with estimates of $375,000-$425,000 and $375,000-$450,000) sold below estimates at $330,000 and $335,000 respectively.
Five 350 and 400 GT models, all sold: the one with the greatest increase, one of the 23 “Interim” examples from 1967, estimated at $400,000-$500,000, sold for $654,000.
One of the biggest bargains of the Pebble Beach auctions was certainly the 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider rebuilt in Zagato style from the renowned collection of Oscar Davis. Incomplete history, but the estimate of $600,000-$800,000 was correct. Sold for $390,000. A great move from the buyer.
This failure of the Alfa 6C 1750 was not the only cloud: two other 6C 1750s went unsold, a well-documented Zagato from Gooding, ex-Mille Miglia in 1931 and 1932, stopped at $2,500,000 (against an estimate of $2.7-$3.2m) and an ex-Brooklands with speed record aerodynamic bodywork, stopped at $1,175,000 against the asking price of $1.6m-$1.8m.
The only 8C 2300 offered in this edition also flopped. The 1933 model bodied by Figoni was estimated at $4m-$6m but offers stopped at $3,900,000. I would have taken it!
Maserati wasn’t strong enough to break out of the darkness either. Of the 6 Maserati cars estimated at over one million, only three were sold and just one within its estimates. A 1958 450S stopped at $6.9 million, a far cry from the $9m-$11 requested (sold after the auction for an undisclosed number), while an A6G/54 Spider Zagato concluded at $3.2 million, more than one million below its $4.5m-$5.5m estimate.
The prototype of the 3500GT Spider just made it past the 1 million thresholds when it sold for $1,025,000 but its estimate was $1.2m-$1.6m. The same goes for the 1968 Ghibli Spider prototype, sold but well below its estimate: $995,000. The only Maserati holding the flag high was 1957 200Si, sold for $3,112,500, at the bottom end of the $3m-$4m estimate, but still within its estimate…