The Monterey auctions have set a new record. Total sales (which could creep higher still as auction companies negotiate post-block deals on unsold cars) hit $469M, versus the previous high of $394.48M set in 2015. The week put an exclamation point on what has been an unprecedented year for the collector car market and allayed concerns that economic volatility will cool buyers’ enthusiasm.
It also confirmed that tastes—and demographics—are changing. The fastest movers in the Hagerty Price Guide are modern sports cars, and those sold exceptionally well here this week. Nearly every analog supercar offered set a new world record price. Hagerty has noted for years that younger collectors are transforming the market, and that transition has only accelerated during the pandemic. The most valuable F50 ever added to a Hagerty insurance policy occurred in 2022, and it was done so by the youngest person to ever add an F50 to their insurance. The second youngest person to ever add an F40 to a policy was in 2022.
Yet Monterey also reminded us that this shift won’t necessarily be at the expense of older cars and collectors. The biggest sale of the week, at $22.005M, was a 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider once campaigned by Carroll Shelby, and several prewar cars, including a $10.345M 1937 Bugatti Type 57, made the top ten. The difference was that these cars largely hewed closely to previous sales, whereas the newer cars tended to chuck precedent out the window. For example: Gooding sold a 1-of-12 1961 Jaguar E-Type Series I coupe with a rare outside bonnet latch, a car that hasn't come to market in three years. At $632,000, that sale is less than one-percent different from what the exact car sold for in Monterey 2019.
With all the talk of online auctions over the last two years, it was refreshing to see live auctions show how the energy of a room will bring prices that the online sites can’t touch. By far the most people on their feet, the most spirited bidding, and most excited group of people we’ve seen all week were in the room for the Pixar/Porsche collaboration on the Sally Special 911 GTS. Styled after Sally Carrera from the movie Cars, the car fetched $3.6M for charity. Gooding sold a 2008 Ferrari F430 for $412,000, $112,000 over its high estimate. That same car sold on online auction website Bring a Trailer two years prior for $250K, netting a 65 percent gain. (Lest we overstate things, note that Bring a Trailer sold an F50 on Friday for $3.31M.)
It’s important to remember that Monterey represents a rather thin slice of the market. An unprecedented number of million-dollar cars—112—found new homes here, making up roughly three-quarters of the total sales. It’s also worth considering that the record sales total comes amidst a time of high inflation. The most recent update to our Hagerty Market Rating, released just before the start of the auctions, found that although classic cars are appreciating fast, the dollar is depreciating even faster. To wit: 2015 sales, in today’s dollars, amount to $490M.
On the whole, though, Monterey Car Week put on hold jitters about the state of the collector car market and reminded us that a generational shift need not be zero sum. A new breed of collectors gaining wealth are buying the dream cars of their youth, while others continue to buy 1960s sports cars or prewar greats for the values they have long traded at. And no matter the car or the price, the joy of conversing with fellow car enthusiasts at a live event will always reign supreme.
Note: This story has been updated Sunday at 4:55 PST with a new sales total to reflect post-block transactions reported by auction companies.
* Hagerty has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Broad Arrow Group. You can read more about it here.