RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 – Auction Report

RM Sotheby’s, Portola Plaza, Monterey, California, August 19-20, 2016

2016 posed some problems for RM Sotheby’s. The Convention Center where their auction had been held for as long as they’ve been on the Monterey Peninsula was a giant construction project.

The solution was simple [sic]: take the fountain (which hadn’t fountained in years) out of the middle of Portola Plaza and build a big, not quite Barrett-Jackson sized, tent in what had served as the preview area in years gone by.

The logistics were challenging, dealing with different levels and an intricate path to and from the auction block. The area left for previews and staging was cramped. RM responded by cutting the consignment by a third, from 150 in 2015 (a 3-day sale featuring the 25-lot Pinnacle Portfolio on Thursday) to 100 in 2016.

RM’s most-organized guy, setup master Greg Sparling, and his team mastered the site and pulled it all together seamlessly. You’d have thought this was how it was supposed to be, not an expedient solution to a fluid situation.

The Portola Hotel & Spa cooperated by holding off starting their lobby renovations until Monday after the auction giving RM room to display its headline lots in their usual setting.

Then six months ago another fly landed in the ointment when RM’s longtime auctioneer, multilingual, engaging Max Girardo, left to start his own business in the U.K. Max was endlessly entertaining and engaged the crowd and the bidders smoothly. Eli Rodriguez from Sotheby’s filled in nearly seamlessly for Max at Amelia Island (Eli was so close a Girardo clone that it took a number of Amelia onlookers well into the sale to realize it wasn’t Max) and at Motor City in July.

RM chose in Monterey to replace Eli with Bill Ruprecht. Bill was CEO of Sotheby’s until last year when activist investor Dan Loeb forced him out — just after Sotheby’s bought a 25% interest in RM Auctions. The cavernous venue with dubious acoustics coupled with reduced volume on Ruprecht’s mic (he was db below Alain Squindo’s introductions) and a laconic, pause-filled delivery made it difficult for the audience to keep track. Crowd noise was barely restrained. Even the video screen display was often out of sync.

The presentation might have been appropriate in the carefully tuned acoustics of Sotheby’s New York auction room selling Jackson Pollocks, Picassos and Damien Hirsts. It missed in Monterey where the bidders expect auction excitement on par with the excitement of the cars.

In the end RM Sotheby’s did well, bringing higher average and median transaction values than in the Pinnacle-fluffed 2015 sale although the 82% sell-through rate was the lowest since a whole long time ago. 2009 to be exact. Home runs were everywhere, from the Jaguar D-type and first Shelby Cobra to an obscure result of epic proportions for a 330 GT 2+2 ($737,000!) Even depressed by ‘fine art style’ auctioneering lightning still strikes in the Monterey auctions.

Andrew Newton was an invaluable contributor to the individual auction reports that follow.

The Numbers:

RM Monterey
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est
Sold > High Est
Average Sale
Total Sales
100 / 82
150 / 129
129 / 120
119 / 104
119 / 106
144 / 123
224 / 204
239 / 205
173 / 147

RM Sotheby’s Monterey 2016 – Auction Report

1952 Allard K2 Roadster
Lot # 101 1952 Allard K2 Roadster; S/N 91K3017; Dark Blue/Grey leather; Dark Blue cloth top; Estimate $150,000 – $200,000; Older restoration, 2- condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $125,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $137,500 – 331/180hp Chrysler, 2-barrel, Muncie 4-speed, deDion rear axle, banjo spoke steering wheel, silver painted wire wheels, Excelsior radial blackwall tires, single sidemount. – Good older paint, upholstery and chrome. Stretched seat cushion upholstery. Dusty chassis and underbody. Minor edge chips under the doors. An older restoration with some miles but well cared for. The original 3-speed transmission goes with the car. – Attractive and well maintained, with performance that is still legendary from its big but historically correct 331 Hemi V-8, this is reasonable price for a better than reasonable Allard.
1988 Ferrari 328 GTS Spider
Lot # 103 1988 Ferrari 328 GTS Spider, Body by Pininfarina; S/N ZFFXA20A1J0078015; Engine # 13423; Red, Black leatherette roof panel/Beige leather; Estimate $120,000 – $160,000; Unrestored original, 2- condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $90,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $99,000 – 5-spoke wheels, Bridgestone tires, power windows, air conditioning, Sanyo CD stereo, books, tools, fitted luggage. – 13,875 miles from new, Ferrari Classiche certified. Good original paint and interior. Cavallino Concours and Preservation Platinum awards in 2015. Serviced 8 months ago. – This 328 was reported sold by RM at Amelia earlier this year for $187,000 but the catalog contends the current owner has had it since 2014. In any event it failed to excite the Portola Plaza bidders, or maybe they had been delayed on their way by the monumental Monterey traffic. The result is a 328 GTS price that has a material premium for low miles, originality or preservation. The new owner will be hard pressed to continue its preservation at this level without suffering a significant decrease in value from use.
1999 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster
Lot # 104 1999 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster; S/N ZA9RU31B6XLA12197; Rosso Mica/Cream leather; Estimate $325,000 – $375,000; Unrestored original, 2- condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $275,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $302,500 – OZ Racing wheels, power windows, air conditioning, Alpine CD stereo, hydraulic nose lifting system, carbon fiber roof panel. – A few small chips in the nose. Coating is starting to come off on the carbon fiber headlight surrounds. Marcelo Gandini badges are faded. Some paint is coming off of the rear Diablo badge. Lightly worn interior. Definitely not like new even though it has just 6,300 miles, but that means you could drive it without feeling guilty. – Amazingly the catalog does not even mention the distinguishing feature of the Diablo VT: its first in class introduction of adaptable all wheel drive through the Viscous Tracking (‘VT’) center differential that routes up to 25% of power to the front wheels as the rears break traction. It was a breakthrough that makes these 492hp supercars remarkably drivable for their time and will make this one even more fun for its moderate price.
1977 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo Coupe
Lot # 105 1977 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo Coupe; S/N 9307800305; Engine # 6870327; Silver Metallic/Black leather with Black Watch tartan cloth inserts; Estimate $250,000 – $325,000; Unrestored original, 2- condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $250,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $275,000 – Black Fuchs wheels, tinted glass, sunroof, whale tail, rear window wiper, power windows, air conditioning, power heated mirrors, Blaupunkt stereo. – Very clean original engine bay. A handful of very tiny chips above the rear stone guards are typical. There are two small chips on the roof. Otherwise, the car looks new inside and out and is represented to have a believable 16,665 miles since it was built, with a known ownership history from new. – Despite the cornucopia of 911s this year, which included plenty of 930s, this car was among the best and brought a big but not excessive price in today’s market, demonstrating collectors’ preference for careful preservation, low miles and full documentation.
989 Lamborghini Countach Silver Anniversary Coupe
Lot # 107 1989 Lamborghini Countach Silver Anniversary Coupe, Body by Bertone; S/N ZA9CA05A1KLA12499; White/Black leather; Estimate $275,000 – $350,000; Unrestored original, 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $210,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $231,000 – OZ Racing wheels, Pirelli tires, climate control, power windows, Alpine CD stereo. – A cluster of fine scratches and cracks on the right front fender. Numerous chips, cracks and scratches on the bottom front lip. A few light scratches on the wheels. Too many cracks on the engine cover to count, and several big cracks on the rear bumper. Good, lightly worn interior. Fully serviced by a marque specialist a little less than a year ago. Looks like a 25-plus-year-old car and all the paint issues are really a shame. The 10,957 km on the odometer that are claimed all it’s covered from new would suggest a better example than this. – The bidders here did not ignore the flawed presentation of this car in favor of the low mileage. A lot of collectors expect nearly like-new perfection from their ’80s poster cars, but this car missed the mark and went to a new home at a price significantly favorable to the buyer even with the car’s multitudinous flaws.
1961 Chaparral 1 Prototype Sports Racer
Lot # 111 1961 Chaparral 1 Prototype Sports Racer; S/N 001; White/Black vinyl; Estimate $900,000 – $1,400,000; Competition restoration, 3 condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $675,000 – RHD. 327/400hp, 4-speed, Edelbrock intake, three 97s, quick change rear gears, gold-painted 5-spoke wheels, wraparound windscreen, braced rollbar. – Jim Hall’s first Chaparral, designed by Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes with bodywork designed by Chuck Pelly, the successor to their Scarabs. Raced for three years by Jim Hall with varied results but consistently fast and competitive. Subsequently campaigned by Jack Boxstrom in historic events with great success and now as-raced: stone chipped, worn, duct taped and wonderful. – Proven to be competitive in historic competition and the beginning of the Hall and Sharp series of innovative and competitive Chaparral race cars, it is surprising the bidders didn’t get more enthusiastic, and not surprising Jack Boxstrom didn’t let it go at this price.
1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Berlinetta
Lot # 112 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Berlinetta, Body by Pininfarina-Scaglietti; S/N 07093; Engine # 07093; Silver-Grey/Crimson leather; Estimate $2,000,000 – $2,400,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $1,575,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $1,732,500 – Chrome spoke Borrani wire wheels, Pirelli P4000 tires, tools, owner’s manual, parts book. – Good older paint, chrome and lightly used interior. Orderly engine compartment. A quality older restoration completed in 2005 that’s been driven and enjoyed by Jack and Kathy Boxstrom. Ferrari Classiche certified. – When it’s time to cut back it’s also time to accept the judgment of the marketplace, or at least that’s one reason for this otherwise inexplicably modest price for a sound, quality 275 GTB. The new owner got a very good value, along with a very good Ferrari.
1955 Jaguar D-Type Sports Racer
Lot # 114 1955 Jaguar D-Type Sports Racer; S/N XKD501; Engine # E2036-9; Ecosse Blue/Dark Blue leather; Estimate $20,000,000 – $25,000,000; Competition restoration, 3- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $19,800,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $21,780,000 – RHD. Dunlop centerlock alloy wheels, Dunlop tires, wraparound windscreen, transparent soft cover over the passenger’s seat, driver’s head fairing and fin, left side exhaust. – ’56 Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans winner driven by Sanderson and Flockhart, the first D-type for private sale. Engine from XKD561. Raced by Ecurie Ecosse through 1957 with three subsequent owners, restored in the 70’s and vintage raced and displayed since. Decent paint, worn original upholstery, chipguarded nose. Aged and honest. – Sold by Christie’s in London in 1999 for GBP 1,706,500 ($2,810,627 at the time and $2.2 million at today’s exchange rate), freshened but not re-restored since and impressively preserved in exceptionally usable condition and original 1956 Le Mans configuration. This is the most expensive British automobile ever sold at auction, and it deserves to be.