Auction Report

Both prewar classics and modern exotics brought big money at the first day of Monterey auctions

by John Wiley
19 August 2022 2 min read
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A Ferrari F50 brought $5.75M, a new record for the model.. Photo by Matt Tierney

This year’s Monterey auctions pits a red-hot collector car market against a cooling global economy. Through day one, at least, it appears buyers are focusing on the former and/or are unfazed by the latter. RM Sotheby’s, Mecum, and newcomer Broad Arrow* combined to sell 233 cars for $92.0 million, and multiple cars achieved world record prices.  

The hits came from a wide variety of segments and eras. Analog supercars, which have emerged as favorites at online auctions and did well last year at Monterey continued to perform well today. A record-setting, $5.75M Ferrari F50 at Broad Arrow led the charge, and a BMW M1 brought $692,500—the most we’ve seen for a roadgoing version. Other examples that sold strongly were a Ferrari F40 at $1.985M, a Porsche 959 Komfort at $1.875M, and Porsche Carrera GT at $1.765M, a Lexus LFA Nürburgring at $1.6M and a Jaguar XJR-15 at $1.38M.  

Yet prewar cars—traditional fare at Monterey—also performed well. The top sale of the night was a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster sold by RM Sotheby’s for $9.9M. Second was the unique Tulipwood 1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C Torpedo, also sold by RM Sotheby’s for $9.2M. Overall sell-through rate for prewar cars today was 72.6 percent, slightly ahead of the 68 percent rate for all vehicles. If maintained, this would best the prewar sell-through rates of the last seven years. That includes nine of the stunning eleven Mercedes-Benz 500K and 540Ks on offer tonight, at an average sale price of $2.08M. Typically, only two of these rare vehicles sell at auction per year, and some (including us) wondered if there were more here than the market could absorb.  

Although the seven-figure sales dominate the headlines on the Peninsula, there were also signs of strength at the more attainable end of the market, where buyers might theoretically be more sensitive to inflation and other economic worries. For instance, Mecum sold a 1969 El Camino for $50,600, and Broad Arrow’s diminutive Honda Z600 brought an outsized $56,000——$25k over its Condition #1 value in the Hagerty Price Guide

Monterey has shown up in its best Tuxedo for the sale of James Bond cars in prior years. Today we found out that Sean Connery’s personal Aston Martin DB5—the Bond car owned by the definitive James Bond—is worth a cool $1.2M, or 100 percent more than the Hagerty Price Guide #1 value. Impressive, but not quite as good as a DB5 used to promote Thunderball, which in 2019 achieved a 340 percent premium over the #1 Hagerty Price Guide value.  

Tomorrow’s sales will test the top end of the market for 1960s American classics, with Mecum offering a 1965 Shelby Cobra CSX3006, which is one of only 23 factory 427 Competition Cobras. Bonhams and Gooding begin their auctions, with a 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight (Hagerty est. $7.5M to $9M) and a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante ($10M–$12M) topping their respective run lists. RM Sotheby’s, meanwhile, will be offering vehicles from the late industrialist Oscar Davis, including a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop with an estimate of $9M to $11M and a 1958 Maserati 450S with an estimate of $9M to $11M.  

* Hagerty has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Broad Arrow Group. You can read more about it here

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