18 August 2016

2016 Monterey auction stars – and a few others

It begins with a trickle – an invitation, maybe an email. But before long, a steady deluge of advance promotion, newsletters and glossy catalogs remind you why Monterey is – even more than Scottsdale or Amelia – the year’s headline marketplace for old cars.

Mega-dollar masterpieces of performance, style and rarity abound. There are a few others however, lurking just outside the spotlights’ glare, that deserve attention if only for their quirky appeal. The breadth of the Monterey auction bidders’ interest assures car owners that even their most unusual piece will find at least one, and ideally two, bidders who share their eclectic taste.

How much great inventory is coming to Monterey? The three main catalog auctions, Bonhams, RM Sotheby’s and Gooding have consigned 357 cars with a total pre-sale, low estimate of $328,365,000. That doesn’t even account for eleven cars with “Estimate on Request”, some of which are expected to bring more than eight figures.

There are eight cars estimated at $10 million or more:

  • RM’s Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type and 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Touring Spider top the list by any standard – and particularly for those of us with Alfa aspirations – with estimates of $20-25 million.
  • Gooding’s Long Wheelbase Ferrari 250 GT alloy-bodied California Spyder is in the same value league ($18-20 million), with their Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione ($15-18 million) and another choice Alfa, this one an 8C 2300 Monza Roadster ($12-15 million), close behind.
  • RM Sotheby’s has another LWB California Spyder, this with a steel body ($12-14 million).
  • A bit more esoteric but in its way even more wonderful is Gooding’s Bugatti Type 55, a Jean Bugatti-designed Roadster driven by Achille Varzi in the 1932 Mille Miglia ($10-14 million).

Mecum Auctions features an array of late model supercars like the Ferrari LaFerrari. (Bonhams has one too, which highlights the latest speed merchants’ attraction with two out of only 120 U.S.-delivered examples on the Monterey auction blocks.) Mecum also has a brand-new Aston Martin Vulcan (number 11 of 24 built), a Bugatti Veyron 16.4 and McLaren P1 Hybrid.

Russo and Steele’s contribution to headlines is more mainstream including a Dodge Challenger 440 Six Pack convertible, a Porsche 918 Weissach and the rather strange but potentially intriguing ’59 Tojeiro California.

“Estimate on Request”, which appears in the three initially mentioned catalog auctions, can have several implications. “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” is one. Another is “This car is so rare that we can’t make up our minds.” Unusual is a matter of opinion; regardless the following cars are extremely rare.

  • On offer at Bonhams is a Bugatti Type 51, a two-seat Grand Prix racer with a long history. It was driven by Piero Taruffi and the Flying Mantuan, Tazio Nuvolari and falls into the former category.
  • RM Sotheby’s Ferrari 268 SP with its four-cam 2.4-liter V-8 and NART history, and Avions Voisin C28 Aerosport, a car that exemplifies Gabriel Voisin’s idiosyncratic design concepts, fit the latter.
  • Gooding has its own too-rare-to-estimate entrant in the Fiat-Abarth 1000 Monoposto da Record, a combination of Abarth power and wind-cheating Pinin Farina design that is world record-setting eye candy.
  • RM Sotheby’s Shelby Cobra s/n CSX2000, the first Shelby Cobra built falls into both categories, a car that could be, conceivably, breathtakingly expensive on account of its unique position in Cobra and Shelby history.
  • Bonhams also has a Stutz Bearcat, Wayne Carini’s ultimate barn find, which is easy to value as a Bearcat. However, it is impossible to estimate what bidders’ reaction to its originality will be.

All these questions will, if the auctioneer calls out “Sold!” at the conclusion of bidding, be answered in Monterey.

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