Cars: Ferrari Leads the Way

This past weekend, the world's wealthy elite converged on the usually sleepy town of Pebble Beach in California to attend the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and nearby auctions. Actually most went just to drink champagne and hob-nob with the wealthy elite, or sell them something. As for the cars, for those with a love of speed, or beauty, will not be disappointed. The weekend boasts races and celebrities and million dollar cars everywhere you look, there are more luxury watches being worn, both vintage and modern, than possibly any other event in the world. Think of it like Disneyland for millionaires.

The 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO achieved US$38.1 million at Bonhams auction 

According to the US classic car database Hagerty, during the weekend the 3 big car auction houses, Bonhams, RM and Goodings, offered a combined 1,192 lots and sold roughly 70% to achieve, including premiums, a total of US$352.4 million. This figure was US$40 million higher than last years combined total, proving the car market, like the watch market, remains buoyant despite rumors. With a 70 percent sell-rate it also means, just like the watch auctions, buyers are willing to pay top prices for the cars they really want, but don't necessarily want everything that is offered to them. 

 This 1967 Ferrari 275GTB/4 was sold by RM auctions for US$10 million on Saturday, oh, did I say it was original ordered and owned by the legendary actor Steve McQueen? Apparently a comparable model, without the celebrity name, would make around US$3 million. 

This 1967 Ferrari 275GTB/4 was sold by RM auctions for US$10 million on Saturday, oh, did I say it was original ordered and owned by the legendary actor Steve McQueen? Apparently a comparable model, without the celebrity name, would make around US$3 million. 

Bonhams led the series of auctions at the serene Quail Lodge location and set a benchmark result for the top lot that the others failed to exceed. Breaking their own world-record for a car sold at auction, a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, one of only 39 made, achieved US$38.1 million including buyers premium (estimate $30-40 million). There were no real surprises for this result as the GTO is one of the most collectable, and bankable, cars out there with prices steadily increasing over the years. Beating their own world-record result set by a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R in 2013 was a coup for Bonhams international car department, once again proving their negotiating prowess by securing the GTO, especially as it was recently reported by Reuters here that Bonhams owners are entering first-found negotiations regarding the sale of the company.

 The 38.1 million dollar Ferrari being manually pushed onto the ramp with a driver to steer, hope the brakes are working on the way back down!

The 38.1 million dollar Ferrari being manually pushed onto the ramp with a driver to steer, hope the brakes are working on the way back down!

After all three sales were over Ferrari had dominated the top 10 combined list, proving once again the the famous marques, preferably in red, commands confidence with collectors.

Read more on the results this weekend at Bloomberg here.

Also up for auction this weekend was the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 pictured below, chassis 1469/L, selling yesterday at Goodings & Co for US$1,485,000 inc. premium (est.  $1,200,000-1,500,000). Proving if you know your business, and are a little lucky, collectables such as cars or watches can be great investments. In 2012 Gooding & Co., sold the same, recently restored, Aston Martin DB5 with chassis 1469/L, at the same Pebble Beach auction location, for US$748,000 inc. premium (est. $750,000-850,000). Assuming Goodings take a 15% cut, the seller got to drive an Aston Martin DB5, albeit in blue, for 2 years and make just over $500,000 in profit. Sure beats owning Apple stock.

 The Aston Martin DB5 pictured above at Pebble Beach in 2012 sold at auction for $748,000, it was just sold again in 2014 at the same location, by the same company, for $1,485,000.

The Aston Martin DB5 pictured above at Pebble Beach in 2012 sold at auction for $748,000, it was just sold again in 2014 at the same location, by the same company, for $1,485,000.