Auction Report

The top 10 sales at Monterey Car Week 2021

by Andrew Newton
20 August 2021 6 min read
Photo by RM Sotheby's/Peter Singhof

While there are always auction events with more vehicles up for grabs, Monterey brings together more cars from the market’s top shelf than anywhere else. In all, 82 cars sold on the peninsula for $1M or more this year, and many of them were record prices. Despite some big misses like a Jaguar D-Type (not sold at a $4.2M bid), a Gulf Porsche 917K (not sold at a $15M bid), and a Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR (not sold at a $7M bid), most of the week’s seven- and eight-figure stars sold and they sold well. Here are the top 10, from lowest to highest.

1963 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster

RM Sotheby’s/William Walker

RM Sotheby’s

Sold for $4,130,000

An early “Sebring” spec Cobra with rack-and-pinion steering, this 289 roadster (Chassis CSX2129) was raced to great success in period by Bob Bondurant and Ken Miles. The new Cobras brought Shelby USRRC and SCCA titles in 1963, in large part thanks to this very car. CSX2129 sold to a privateer at the end of the year, but he soon traded it back in to Shelby, which displayed it at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York.

With the rare combination of serious factory race history and no serious accidents, this is a serious car for Cobra fanatics. It last sold publicly in Pebble Beach 10 years ago for $2,585,000, but Shelby values have only gone up since then, and this year the car was driven onto the auction block by Ken Miles’ son Peter.

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SI (closed headlight)

Gooding & Company

Gooding & Company

Sold for $4,405,000

The 34th of 40 Series I Pinin Farina Cabriolets built and originally finished in Oro Andalusia, this car was on the Ferrari stand at the 1958 Earls Court Motor Show and was shown at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1964. It was advertised for sale in Road & Track within a year, with a $6250 asking price, and later was owned by designer Dick Teague, who penned much of AMC’s lineup in the 1970s, as well as the original Jeep Cherokee XJ. It was restored in the 2000s.

Although it doesn’t have sexy monikers like “California” or “Tour de France,” the Pinin Farina Cabriolet was an expensive and exclusive car when it was new. With a list price of nearly $15,000, it cost thousands more than either a California Spider or a TdF, and production totaled just 36 examples of the Series I cars.

1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180 S Type Sports Tourer



Sold for $5,395,000

The only prewar car to crack the top 10 this year, this S-Type Mercedes was part of a trend we saw across the Monterey Peninsula this year—rare cars that are fresh to the market brought the healthiest prices.

Although the S-Type was a world-class sports car in its day, Mercedes only sold 146 examples and not all of those have survived. The last time we saw one sell at auction was back in 2017, and this car in Monterey came out of long-term single family ownership. Acquired by the consignor’s late father, it hasn’t changed hands since 1964. The bidders at Quail Lodge recognized the rare opportunity here, and one of them paid well over the car’s $4M high estimate.

1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix

Gooding & Company

Gooding & Company

Sold for $5,615,000

If you were a gentleman racer in the 1920s and you wanted to win, chances are you were either driving a Bugatti Type 35 or wishing you were. With hundreds of checkered flags to their credit, many Type 35s have a great racing history. This one, though, is a standout since it was a Works car that won both the French and Spanish Grands Prix, driven by the great William Grover-Williams and Louis Chiron. Retaining its original chassis, engine, supercharger, gearbox, axles, and most of its bodywork, it has been restored twice (once in the 1980s and again in the 2000s). And at $5.6M, it is now the most expensive Bugatti Type 35 ever sold at auction.

1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF

RM Sotheby’s/Courtney Frisk

RM Sotheby’s

Sold for $6,000,000

Ferrari did a lot of winning in the 1950s. The “Tour de France Automobile” was one race where the company proved particularly successful, and Ferrari dubbed a new competition version of the 250 GT, the 250 GT TdF, as a sort of self-pat on the back. This car, chassis #1031 GT, was originally ordered in Giulietta Blue (an Alfa Romeo color) with a red stripe over Havana brown upholstery, and it sold new to a French industrialist who ordered it with tons of special features and hoped to get it in time for the 1958 Tour de France. Pressed for time, Ferrari delivered the car on time but ignored or declined most of the owner’s requests. He was understandably not pleased, but did manage a fourth-pace finish in the car’s namesake race. It sold privately in 2014 to the consignor, who had it restored and showed it at Pebble Beach in 2016.

1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione

RM Sotheby’s/Robin Adams

RM Sotheby’s

Sold for $7,705,000

Oozing style and pedigree, this GTB is a rare competition version campaigned by the famous Scuderia Filipinetti team out of Switzerland. It won its class and finished 11th overall at le Mans in 1967, then won its class at Spa and Imola in 1969. It was fully restored in the 2010s.

With old race cars, most of the value is in the history, which this Ferrari has in spades. For example, its $7.7M price is about three times the value of a standard road-going alloy 275 GTB. But this car also exemplifies another trend we touched on in our recap earlier this week—cars that are new to market are selling well, while cars recently sold at other auctions just aren’t as hot the second time across the block. When this GTB was fresh from restoration in Scottsdale three years ago, it sold for $9.4M.

1962 Ferrari 268 SP

RM Sotheby’s/Patrick Ernzen

RM Sotheby’s

Sold for $7,705,000

While there was no shortage of Ferrari race cars in Monterey this year, this 268 SP was the only one campaigned by the factory. And although chassis #0798 is one of six of these sharknose V-8 racers originally built, it is the only one remaining in its original configuration. It’s truly unique, then, and has been with the seller since 1997.

Back in the early 1960s, Ferrari took a page from the book of Cooper and Lotus and started experimenting with mid-engine race cars in earnest. The Dino SPs were an important part of that mid-engine move, and aside from the placement of the engine, the SP’s bodywork was another radical change for Ferrari. Created by Fantuzzi, it features a low windscreen, aerodnamic nose, and a sharp spoiler at the edge of the tail. Originally equipped with a 2.4-liter V-8 but quickly enlarged to a 2.6-liter, it was used at the Le Mans trials in 1962 with great drivers like Ricardo Rodriguez, Lorenzo Bandini, Mike Parkes, and Olivier Gendebien at the wheel, but it was a DNF at the actual race. It later raced at Bahamas Speed Week and at Sebring, then won the 1964 SCCA D Modified Championship under private ownership.

1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato

RM Sotheby’s/Rasy Ran

RM Sotheby’s

Sold for $9,520,000

This year, RM Sotheby’s devoted an entire day of selling in Monterey to the collection of late Texas businessman Paul Andrews. It was a collection packed with star cars, but this was the highlight, one of only 19 genuine Aston Martin DB4 GTs bodied by Zagato in period and just six in left-hand drive.

Depending on who you ask, these are the most beautiful cars to wear an Aston Martin badge and many of them have a glittering race history. In many ways, the DB4 Zagato is to Aston what the 250 GTO is to Ferrari.

In addition to being a rare left-driver, the Andrews car also came with several special features like a wide-pattern egg crate grille, and it won its class at Brands Hatch in 1962. It was restored in the 1990s, and RM sold it in 2005 for $2,695,000. The Andrews collection also had a “Sanction II” continuation car in Monterey this year, and it brought $2,755,000. The last genuine DB4 GT Zagato to sell at auction was three years ago. Given its more serious race history, that car brought £10,081,500 (about $13.3M at the time) at Bonhams’ Goodwood sale.

1959 Ferrari 250 California LWB Competizione Spider (closed headlight)

Gooding & Company/Brian Henniker

Gooding & Company

Sold for $10,840,000

Cal Spiders are special cars. Just 106 were built (50 long wheelbase and 56 short wheelbase), all with bite-the-back-of-your-hand-beautiful coachwork by Scaglietti. Some of the most highly prized road-going Ferraris ever, they have been eight-figure cars for several years now, and we weren’t surprised to see this one near the top of the 2021 list.

Although Ferrari never intended the California to be a competition car, a few owners just couldn’t resist the temptation to take theirs to the track. So a handful of Californias left the factory with competition features like hotter engines and long-range fuel tanks with external fuel fillers. This car is one of those few Cal Spiders with period race history, including a fifth-place finish at Monza in 1959 and numerous other circuit races and hill climbs throughout Italy.

1995 McLaren F1

Gooding & Company/Mike Maez

Gooding & Company

Sold for $20,465,000

Although the original sticker price for a McLaren F1 was “just” $800,000 way back in 1992, this analog hypercar’s legend has only grown since then. And so have its prices. F1s officially became eight-figure cars in the mid-2010s, and their condition #2 values in the Hagerty Price Guide rose nearly 500 percent over the last 10 years. Here’s some further evidence of their top tier status in the collector car market—an F1 was the top seller at Monterey in both 2019 (a 1994 F1 LM for $19.8M).

Just 106 F1s of all types were built, so they rarely hit the open market, and this was one of the two most anticipated lots of Monterey Car Week 2021. A 390-kilometer (242-mile) car finished in one-off Creighton Brown over light tan and dark brown, it sold for a lot of green—$20,465,000. Other F1s may have sold for more privately, but this is a world record auction price for the model and just shy of its condition #1 value in the Hagerty Price Guide.

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