Ferraris top car auctions again

Class M-2 Ferraris (above) and the unusual 1956 Fiat Eden Roc on display on Pebble Beach.
Class M-2 Ferraris (above) and the unusual 1956 Fiat Eden Roc on display on Pebble Beach. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Class M-2 Ferraris and the unusual 1956 Fiat Eden Roc (above) on display on Pebble Beach.
Class M-2 Ferraris and the unusual 1956 Fiat Eden Roc (above) on display on Pebble Beach. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Seven out of the top 10 sales at California's car extravaganza are from the Italian house

Ferrari led the pack again. The Italian sports cars accounted for seven of the top 10 sales at auctions in California that fetched US$390.6 million (S$549 million).

The sales were part of a six-day car extravaganza that ended on Sunday in the coastal towns of Carmel and Monterey and at the Pebble Beach golf course.

The preliminary tally fell short of US$402.6 million in equivalent sales last year, according to Hagerty, a Traverse City, Michigan- based insurer and classic car database that tracks auction results.

Prices for classic cars are levelling off following a period of record sales driven by expanding global wealth. While demand for Ferraris is still strong, even these cars felt the pinch. The top lot this year was a US$17.6-million Ferrari, compared with last year, when a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta fetched US$38.1 million, a record for a car sold at auction globally.

This year, 128 Ferraris were offered - the largest number ever at classic car auctions - and 25 per cent did not sell, according to Hagerty. The totals provided by Hagerty include post-auctions' private sales but exclude sales at a smaller company, Rick Cole.

"Buyers are highly selective, even if it's a new buyer with all the money in the world," said Mr McKeel Hagerty, chief executive officer of Hagerty. "Overpaying for a car can be embarrassing later."

RM Sotheby's sold the week's top lot: a red 1964 Ferrari 250 LM, one of 32 of its kind, for US$17.6 million, a record for the model. It was part of a private collection of 25 cars that included other Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Bugattis.

The group took US$75.4 million, setting a record for a private collection sold during a single-day auction. The previous US$66 million record for the category was set last year at Bonhams.

An orange 1998 McLaren F1 sports car sold for US$13.8 million. A 2005 Ferrari Enzo, built as a gift for Pope John Paul II, fetched US$6.1 million. RM Sotheby's said it tallied US$172.7 million during the week, including post-auction private sales.

The biggest disappointment was a yellow 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione, which was estimated at US$17 million and failed to meet its reserve price. The car did not sell privately as of Sunday, according to an RM Sotheby's spokesman.

A red Ferrari led the sales at each of the three major auction houses. "Ferraris are like Patek Philippe watches," said Mr Doug Wolford, chief executive officer of Convergent Wealth Advisors, a wealth management firm. "There will always be people who want them."

A red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider - one of only 37 of its kind - fetched US$16.8 million at Gooding & Co on Sunday, within the estimated range.

Gooding said it sold US$128.1 million of cars. Bonhams sold a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Competizione Alloy Berlinetta, a sports car that placed third at the 1959 Tour de France car race, for US$8.5 million. It had an estimate of US$9 million to US$12 million. Bonhams said its sales totalled US$46.7 million.

Ferraris were not the only popular cars on the block. A 1956 Fiat Eden Roc, which was designed to drive people from a house to a beach, hammered for US$660,000. With no doors and no roof, the sleek, cream-coloured vehicle resembles a boat on wheels. One of only two made, it has mahogany bumpers and a wraparound rear seat.

Another Fiat - a 1953 green-blue Fiat 8V Supersonic that had the same owner for 36 years - sold at Bonhams for US$1.8 million, matching its low estimate. A 1953 Jaguar C-Type Works lightweight roadster fetched US$13.2 million at RM Sotheby's, a record for the model.

By the end of Sunday, six auction houses sold 803 of the offered 1,386 lots, representing a 58 per cent sell-through rate and average sale price of US$479,557.

That is a decline from last year's average of US$540,366 and 61 per cent sell-through rate, according to Hagerty.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Ferraris top car auctions again'. Print Edition | Subscribe