CALIFORNIA • This year, a 1936 Lancia Astura Pinin Farina Cabriolet won the "Best of Show" title. The long black open-top car had bodywork by Italian design powerhouse Pininfarina and had once been owned by singer-songwriter Eric Clapton.
This is the first-ever "Best of Show" victory for any Lancia at the prestigious Pebble Beach show in California. The winning car is always selected for its complete perfection of restoration and rarity, for its superiority above other cars in its class, and for its significance as a model at the time of its production.
This year saw collectors clinking champagne and dropping about US$344 million (S$465 million) at the vintage auto auctions surrounding the event.
The morning started at 5am when die-hards crowded around the cars as they slowly rumbled onto the grass; the dense fog rolling off the ocean burnt off as the day wore on and hordes of well-heeled enthusiasts from the Americas, Asia and Europe gathered around noon on Sunday.
One of the stipulations of the show is that each car must be in working order and must be driven onto the grass to be judged. That is a tall order for some of these cars, which are nearly 100 years old.
Mr Richard Mattei is a well-known Alfa Romeo collector and the "Best of Show" title for his Lancia is the first trophy he has ever won at Pebble. A title like that can elevate the value of a vintage car by tens of thousands of dollars and adds to the car's already impeccable pedigree.
A 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider was shown during the Gooding & Company auction.
This year, that Ferrari 250 GT California from Gooding & Company sold for US$18.1 million and was the third most expensive car sold during the weekend.
Elsewhere, a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione Coupe sold for US$13.5 million, while a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe from RM Sotheby's sold for US$5.7 million. All were in the top-10 most expensive cars sold from any auction house during Monterey Car Week.
After four days of sales, US$344.9 million cars, trucks and motorcycles were sold across five venues during the week from Aug 18 to 21 in Monterey, California.
Totals were bolstered by some of the most exclusive cars to be offered at auction, with the seven cars selling for more than US$10 million. The top seller was the deep- blue 1955 Jaguar D-Type Roadster that RM Sotheby's sold for US$21.8 million.