Friday was the second day of the 2021 Monterey auctions, and the busiest. Cars were selling from the morning through evening, as all five auction companies on the peninsula this year (Mecum, Russo and Steele, Bonhams, Gooding & Company, and RM Sotheby’s) conducted sales. Through Friday, cumulative total sales add up to $210.2M and a 77 percent sell-through rate. This time in 2019, the Monterey auctions added up to $139.1M and a 56-percent sell-through rate. The average sale is up, too, from $282,240 in 2019 to $391,434 in 2021.
For the last 18 months, we’ve seen countless collector vehicles in the sub-$250,000 range sell for stronger and stronger prices (mainly online), but the market’s upper echelons have been less visible, especially in the growing online space. This week in Monterey provides a rare opportunity for an in-person health check, and so far it does indeed seem that the same enthusiasm in the lower price brackets exists in the highest as well. About 30 percent more million-dollar cars are offered this year than 2019, and the sell-through rate for seven- or eight-figure cars rose from 48 percent in 2019 to 72 percent in 2021.
Top among them (and potentially the high sale of the week) was Gooding & Company’s 1995 McLaren F1, which brought $20,465,000, a record price for the model. Across town and within a few seconds of that sale, RM Sotheby’s sold a 1962 Ferrari 268 SP race car for $7,705,000. Nowhere else, either online or in the flesh, can you see $28,170,000 worth of cars selling almost simultaneously. Meanwhile, the 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 that sold out of 60 years in single family ownership at Bonhams brought $5,395,000, well over its $4M high presale estimate. It was another case of buyers stepping up for cars that very rarely or never come to market. In other words, unique buying opportunities.
RM’s other star Ferrari – the 1966 275 GTB Competizione – also sold for $7,705,000, but this was a sizable drop from the $9,405,000 it brought in Scottsdale six years ago. As for newer cars from Maranello, there was a streak of five consecutive late model stick shift Ferraris at RM. We know a third pedal and that signature open gate shifter can add a huge premium, but these cars all still surprised. All but one exceeded its high estimate, including a 2009 599 GTB for $709,000.
Two out of the three F40s offered today also sold for over their condition #1 value, but it wasn’t just Ferraris doing well. Among the most surprising exotic sales today was a 2012 Lexus LFA that sold for $819,000 (or 69 percent over the condition #1 Hagerty Price Guide value) and a 2003 Lamborghini Murcielago with a 6-speed that sold for $445,000 (or more than twice its condition-appropriate value). Iconic American cars from the 1950s also showed some of their enduring appeal, with a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz selling for $313,000 (or about twice its condition-appropriate value).
Friday may have been the busiest day of auctions this year, but the action certainly isn’t over yet. Tomorrow will see what could be one of the biggest cars of the week – the 1970 Gulf Porsche 917K – crossing the block at RM Sotheby’s. Meanwhile, Gooding & Company will feature its 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet and a Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix car, and Mecum has a 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast and several historic, seven-figure Shelbys.