2023 Monterey auctions poised to approach record totals

by John Wiley
4 August 2023 3 min read
Broad Arrow

As we approach the Monterey Car Week auctions for 2023, we find ourselves in a similar situation to 2022. Last year, the market was beginning to cool, but despite this, we saw record sales (the final tally was nearly $473M). Fast forward to now, and the market has continued to cool in 11 of the past 13 months, but total sales at the Monterey auctions may reach another $400M year: we expect between $392M and $457M in total sales for 2023. At the low end, that would be third best behind 2022 and 2015. At the high end of that range, only 2022 would be greater.

How is that possible?

Monterey auctions attract the best cars. Typically, every other year, the annual global auction high sale happens on the peninsula. Simultaneously, the top-selling car at auction every other year tends to be a Ferrari. We’re likely to see both of those patterns renewed at the Monterey auctions this year.

Broad Arrow

We’ll see nearly 133 $1M+ vehicles offered at the Monterey auctions in 2023, down from 149 in 2022. We expect to see slightly more cars than last year's record 1025 listings—there are still a few late entrants trickling in.

The top five lots all have the potential to be eight-figure cars, which is notable because we’ve only seen four cars sell above that level all year. Based on estimates or likely value, the top five in ascending order are:

#5. A 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta offered by Gooding & Company with an estimate of $9M to $11M.

#4. A 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider offered by RM Sotheby’s with an estimate of $9.5M to $11.5M.

#3. A 1957 Jaguar XKSS offered by RM Sotheby’s with an estimate of $12M to $14M.

#2. A 1964 Ferrari 250 LM offered by RM Sotheby’s with an estimate of $18M to $20M.

#1. A 1967 Ferrari 412P offered by Bonhams without estimate.

How do we know the 412 P is more valuable than the 250 LM? It's rare: only four were constructed and two survive, while 32 examples of the 250 LM were built. We also rarely see one at auction. It was way back in 2000 when one last sold—for $5.6M—at Pebble Beach, too.

1967 Ferrari 412P Berlinetta front three quarter Monterey

Beyond those top five, we’ll have our eyes on cars with ties to Le Mans. It was a big year for the storied race, which celebrated its 100th anniversary and resulted in a Ferrari victory for the first time since 1965. As a consequence, there's been a recent uptick of interest in cars with Le Mans history. 12 vehicles that have run the race will be consigned to the auctions, and reflect the innovation and variety across some of racing's great eras. The dozen range from a front-wheel drive 1928 Alvis at Bonhams to a 2001 Ferrari 550 by Prodrive at RM Sotheby’s.

More broadly, nearly 200 vehicles listed at the Monterey auctions this year have previously sold at auction in the past ten years. The average time between these auction sales is just over 3.5 years—we may start to see what happens when pandemic purchases are unwound at scale. Also, assuming the vehicles sell at their low estimate, the average return would be 14 percent, a two-point drop from last year. That suggests that this year's estimates are more realistic.

RM Sotheby's/Darin Schnabel

The ratio of no-reserve lots is up to 39 percent this year from 33 percent in 2022. Despite the auctions boasting more no-reserve lots with more realistic estimates, with the cooling market, we still expect the sell-through rate to dip slightly, from 78.0 percent to 77.7.

The demographics of owners with vehicles consigned to the auctions show Monterey is unlike the rest of the market. In the past few years, 61 percent of sellers at auctions were born before 1965 (Boomers and older). However, this year, their share of consigned vehicles is 80 percent for the Monterey auctions.

With the Monterey auctions typically representing 20 percent of the total sales for live auctions each year, and with the first half of 2023 in the rear-view mirror, we can compare how this year's market is performing against past years. Reflecting the cooling market, total sales at live and online auctions will likely be slightly less than 2022's record-setting pace.  

In the meantime, we look forward to seeing all these exceptional cars cross the block in a few weeks. We’ll be covering the action in a live blog on Insider, so please follow along for our latest insights.

*Hagerty has a joint venture with Broad Arrow Group. You can read more about it here.


  • TomE says:

    Intriguing number of offered cars previously sold in recent years as well as significant increase in age of sellers. Do these metrics suggest an inflection point?

    • John Wiley says:

      The average holding period of the repeat sales is a little shorter than it has been in the past. However, that so many were purchased recently doesn’t mean they expect them to sell for less. The average expected return of those bought in the last 30 months is still almost 14%. We’ll see if that turns out to be optimistic.

  • SJM1 says:

    Owners are aging out of the collector car hobby. Well chosen cars are now way too valuable to keep and enjoy. Having a nice affordable car that cost less than $20K in the 80s can now be worth 10X that amount. The cars condition is one of the main reasons that the car holds that much value, and continued use of it may negatively affect the vallue. Then there is the problem of maintaining the machines, Which was once a labor of love, and now an expensive inconvenience. Those that can afford it have their foundations and museums, set up to be permanent. Others, like normal rich people, just might go for the money, especially if the kids are not really interested in car collecting.

    What is interesting is that the prices continue to rise, so those aging out are now being replaced by Gen X and Gen Y, along with the Millenials, collecting new cars to keep “forever”, or until their mid 70s, whichever comes first. So, enough with the doom and gloom, and the talk of “inflection points”. If that was the case, there simply would not be any 8 figure cars to write about. Remember when you could buy a Ferrari 250 GTO for $5000???

  • Gary Bechtold says:

    Of what was pictured the 288 GTO would be my favorite. Any of those going up for sale at this auction?

  • Jim Liberty says:

    My last 356 restoration will be there. A 1953 Glaser, and if I do say so myself, one of the finest in the world. The last of three sent back to Porsche as Glaser declared bankruptcy. …………….Jim.

  • Maestro1 says:

    Once more, herd lust reigns supreme. And I’m glad that all those Richies can afford those prices. And no, Monterey is not an indication of anything except if you read between the lines, some people are financing themselves or lowering their debt ceilings. The uneasiness in prices here are partially a reflection of the media driven hysteria
    regarding the 2024 Election. And some owners are watching inflation carefully. And some of my collector friends,
    retired business people, have no faith in the way the economy is being run.
    So it’s a little cynical here, which I applaud. I know Hagerty is an Insurance Company, and its media activities certainly must relate to its marketing efforts.

  • paul s murray says:

    To me about the only interesting about these auctions isn’t how much the ultra low mileage Enzo went for, it’s the quirky offbeat cars. Two people who are nodding up the price of a ‘oh yea, I remember those’ car because its there and they want it, and can afford it, and it’s not ‘ I have one point two million, do I have one point three?”. It’s some silly little ‘who-da thunk it ‘ car like a.. Saab Sonett (E.g) ?.. or something else that weird/absurd that goes for more than it’s worth beaucoup but not fantasy land dollars. Correspondingly, the price of a fair example will escalate two or three times the following day. That’s kind of funny. I mean it takes all kinds right? . Other than that, well I, and like many more before me have said, using the collector car market as a bell weather reflecting the economy is for children and fools. You’re probably not going to flip a 288 like some suburban split level on the whatever reality channel or act as though it’s the same as this guy I friend of mine knows who day traded his way into early retirement. – ” Bears make Money. Bulls make money. Pigs get slaughtered.”

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