Classic Car Capital

RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2015 – Auction Report

RM Sotheby’s, Portola Hotel and Monterey Convention Center, Monterey, California, August 14-15, 2015

RM Sotheby’s Pinnacle Portfolio session on Thursday where 23 of 25 cars offered sold for $75,192,500 sucked a good bit of the air out of the Monterey auction rooms, not only for the other Monterey auctions but also for RM Sotheby’s regular two-day sale on Friday and Saturday. (See Pinnacle Portfolio Report).

While Pinnacle’s Ferrari 250LM s/n 6105 posted the Monterey auction week’s highest transaction at $17,600,000, RM Sotheby’s two-day sale saw two lots ring up eight-figure prices, the Jaguar C-type s/n XKC 052 and Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France s/n 0557GT, both at $13,200,000 including buyer’s premium.

The 2-day RM Sotheby’s sale total of $91,845,500 was, however, the lowest since 2011 and the whole comparison is made even more difficult by RM Sotheby’s decision to withhold the prices of three cars sold after they crossed the block. They were:

• Lot 215, Ferrari 250 GT Boano Coupe s/n 0667 GT bid to $960,000 on the block;
• Lot 230, Ferrari 330 GTS s/n 9781 bid to $2,250,000 on the block; and
• Lot 242, Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso s/n 5607 GT bid to $2,000,000 on the block.

RM Sotheby’s did announce a three-day sale total of $172,900,000 and a bit of subtraction shows that the three undisclosed price lots had aggregate prices of $5,592,000 including commissions. Hammer bids on these three lots were $5,210,000 which would have been $5,721,000 with the regular 10% buyer’s premium added, some $129,000 more than the amount indicated in RM Sotheby’s 3-day total.

The Friday-Saturday sale percentage of 84.8% [including the three undisclosed price cars as sold] is also less than any RM Monterey auction since 2011’s 84.25%.

All that does little or nothing to diminish the appeal of the cars RM Sotheby’s offered at Monterey. Looking at the transactions in terms of cars’ ages and quality also shows that some of the older, quality cars in exceptional condition and having notable histories were, relative to Ferraris, Porsches and the Pinnacle Portfolio supercars, great values.

Like the 4 1/2 Liter Blower Bentley lot 342. Sold for $4,015,000 with commission. It is a car welcomed anywhere not only on account of its configuration but also because it is likely the correct, original chassis, engine, supercharger and gearbox as-built by Bentley in 1931, a nearly impossibly rare surviving combination.

The RM Sotheby’s 3-day Monterey auction was far and away the most successful ever in Monterey, with memorable transactions both large and small[ish]. Whether it’s $167,308,000 or $172,900,000 this was a milestone auction.

Here are the 3-day figures:

RM Monterey
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est
Sold > High Est
Average Sale
Total Sales
150 / 129
129 / 120
119 / 104
119 / 106
144 / 123
224 / 204
239 / 205
173 / 147

RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2015 – Auction Report

1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, Body by Pininfarina
Lot # 201 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, Body by Pininfarina; S/N AR1013171805; Red/Gray leather piped in Dark Gray; Black vinyl top; Estimate $55,000 – $85,000; Enthusiast restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $50,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $55,000. No Reserve. Single Solex carb, steel wheels with hub caps, Radial T/A tires, wood shift knob, gray vinyl boot cover. – Reportedly driven less than 1,000 miles since restoration a number of years ago. Older respray that was never all that great to begin with. Drips around the panel edges and orange peel on the tail and left rear fender. Faded overall. The panels themselves have uneven fit. Upholstery is very good, but original gauges and steering wheel are showing their age, and the painted portions of the dash and doors are of the same average quality and dull finish as the outside. The bumper chrome is quite good, but the rest of the brightwork is old and dull. The engine bay is quite tidy, and the frame is clean and dry. This is an older enthusiast restoration of acceptable quality. It makes for an honest little Alfa and a fun casual driver. – This was not a bad car by any means, but its flaws stuck out in the field of immaculately presented cars that surrounded it. The RM bidders may have expected more, but they accepted less and this is an expensive Alfa Normale.
1973 Alfa Romeo Montreal Coupe, Body by Bertone
Lot # 209 1973 Alfa Romeo Montreal Coupe, Body by Bertone; S/N AR1426330; Engine # AR0056402373; White/Dark Gray leather piped in Black; Estimate $140,000 – $180,000; Cosmetic restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $100,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $110,000. No Reserve. SPICA fuel injection, alloy wheels, Pirelli tires, woodrim steering wheel, power windows, air conditioning upgraded to R134a. – Sizable touchup on the driver’s side door, but otherwise sound older paint and chrome. Driver door fit is a bit off. Tidy engine bay and underneath. Very good interior. A slightly older cosmetic restoration and mechanical rebuild by Silverstone Company in Wisconsin that has seen a bit of use since completion. – Sold at Gooding’s Pebble Beach auction two years ago for $99,000 when it had 267 fewer km showing on the odometer. I liked it better then than it appeared to be now, a mediocre car that is not ageing well, but the bidders were not misled and it brought an appropriate price.
1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe
Lot # 210 1958 Facel Vega FVS Series 4 Sport Coupe; S/N FV457H41; Beige Metallic/Maroon leather; Estimate $200,000 – $275,000; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $170,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $187,000. No Reserve. 354/325hp, dual Carter carbs, automatic, chrome centerlock wire wheels, Michelin tires, dual antennae, pushbutton shift, Motorola pushbutton radio, luggage, Jaeger dash clock, wood dash, Wilton wool carpets, power windows. – Sold new in Dallas before being taken apart for restoration in 1968. It wasn’t completed until 2012. Lightly scratched and delaminating window glass. Slightly dull chrome. Very lightly worn upholstery. Rusty but straight original exhaust tips. Excellent interior wood. Very clean and tidy underneath and very good paint. A magnificent automobile recently restored not quite to show quality, and it does have some flaws. – Sold here two years ago for $302,500. While it would not have been surprising to see this Facel Vega bring over $200,000, its result here is closer to realistic than the price it brought two years ago. FVs are obscure cars that need great attention to finding the right buyers, something that is hard to do among the many great cars competing for bidders’ attention in Monterey. The new owner should be comfortable with the price paid.
1957 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe, Body by Boano
Lot # 215 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe, Body by Boano; S/N 0667 GT; Engine # 0667GT; Red, Ivory roof/Tan leather; Estimate $1,300,000 – $1,500,000; Recent restoration, 2+ condition; Bid to $960,000 on the block and reported sold later at an undisclosed price. With Reserve. Chrome spoke Borrani wire wheels, Pirelli tires, Marchal head and driving lights. – Very good paint, chrome and interior. Wiring is crudely spliced, hanging under the dash with a dangling toggle switch. Underbody is like new. Engine compartment is fresh and spotless. – A no-sale on the block at this hammer bid and reported sold post-block at an undisclosed price. It’s hard to sell a car at auction for over a million dollars when the wiring suggests it might catch fire at any moment, but RM Sotheby’s must have been able to assuage someone’s doubts in order to get the deal done.
1950 Ferrari 275S/340 America Barchetta, Body by Scaglietti
Lot # 217 1950 Ferrari 275S/340 America Barchetta, Body by Scaglietti; S/N 0030 MT; Engine # 0030MT; Red/Brown leather, cloth; Estimate $7,500,000 – $10,000,000; Competition restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $7,250,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $7,975,000. With Reserve. RHD. Silver painted Borrani RW3077B wire wheels, full width windscreen, covered headlights. Ferrari Classiche attestation for competition cars [i.e., not as-built, but pretty pure and very cool.] – Originally a Touring Barchetta driven by Ascari with Senesio Nicolini in the 1950 Mille Miglia, the first Lampredi-engined Ferrari competition car, later updated by Ferrari with 340 America power and raced by Scuderia Marzotto in the Mille Miglia in 1951 and 1952. At some early point rebodied by Scaglietti with the current body and passed through several hands before arriving with Peter Markowski where it stayed until 1999 (after an AutoWeek profile by some aspiring writer.) Enthusiastically used through the early 00’s in Europe. Sound but aged old paint over earlier paint and lumpy body. Sound but worn upholstery. Edges chipped, interior body panels still show the marks of Scaglietti’s hammers. Doors covered in old event stickers. – This is just a gorgeous old Ferrari race car with Ascari, Bracco and Marzotto history in three Mille Miglias. It’s never been made into a concours queen, instead being driven and enjoyed by its early Ferrari pilots, preserved by Peter Markowski and then honored without being iconified. I drove it for that AutoWeek profile years ago and it’s hard to imagine having more fun with this little horsepower. The new owner would be commended for retaining the nicks, dings and dimples that are the record of its history.
1964 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe Showcar
Lot # 219 1964 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe Showcar; S/N 40837S101311; Fire Frost Blue/White leather; Estimate $700,000 – $1,000,000; Older restoration, 1- condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $550,000. With Reserve. 327/365hp, single 4-barrel, 4-speed, body color turbine centerlock wheels, Goodyear Blue Streak tires, side exhaust, woodrim steering wheel, dash clock, pushbutton radio. – Phenomenal paint and chrome. Very lightly worn upholstery in a fantastic interior. The only real flaws are two small chips on the bottom of the front lip. One of GM’s rare “styling cars” built for the company’s execs, this one was the second Corvette special ordered by GM President Bunkie Knudsen in the fall of 1963. Features that separate this car from regular production Corvettes are nose, grille, hood, vents and bumpers. It was rescued and restored in the late 1980s by a collector who showed it over the next several years, although today the car looks significantly fresher than that. – It is a measure of the power and prestige of GM and its executives in the Sixties that they could have unique, personalized cars like this built for them to use as daily drivers. The surviving examples are revered by Corvette collectors, especially when they are as well restored and preserved as this one, and the seller was not wrong in thinking it was worth more than the reported high bid.
1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster
Lot # 220 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster; S/N 11304412003756; Ivory/Black vinyl; Black top; Estimate $175,000 – $205,000; Cosmetic restoration, 2 condition; Hammered Sold at $135,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $148,500. No Reserve. Automatic, wheel covers, Phoenix narrow whitewalls, dual mirrors, VDO dash clock, Becker Europa II radio, air conditioning. – Very good paint, chrome, interior and engine bay and underbody. Represented as a two-owner car, it’s had a recent body-on full restoration and today is a very pretty restored Pagoda that’s better than most and needs nothing. – Pagodas have enjoyed popularity in the market recently, and the 280s are the quickest, most developed and most desirable of them. This 280’s equipment and condition combined with the venue brought a strong result even though the bidders weren’t misled by the optimistic estimate.

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Show Comments (4)

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  1. Reading Rick expert commentary on these auction events is ALMOST as good as being there and gives one an excellent sense of the market and how an experienced, pragmatic eye evaluates a car, whether as spectator or potential buyer. Thanks Rick and SCD !

  2. I notice that several times you have said, ” if there was money at the bid, the deal couldn’t get done”, apparently questioning if some of the bids were real or not. Wayne Carini once said on his show Chasing Classic Cars, that apparently the auctioneers are allowed to make up “blue sky bids” up to any stated reserve on the car. I believe this happens more often than not!

    1. Weather it is a “chandelier bid”, where the bidder does not exist, or a shill bidder who has been planted to run-up the price – – auctions can be a dangerous place for the uninformed.

  3. I was delighted to see the little SIATA gran Sport in the auction and very pleased to see the selling price. A bit more than the $ 1500. I paid for mine in the early 1980s. Fortunately mine had never been given the American V8 exchange that so many had received as the little Fiat based engines gave problems, hence I still have the original Siata engine that was installed in the car in late 1951 with the Siata maifold & 32DRP 5 Weber carbs. My compliments for an excellent restoration right down to the wire wrapped fuel lines. I would enjoy communicating with the new owner if he is so inclined. Harry Hart