The two biggest weeks of the auction year happen at the end of summer on the Monterey Peninsula and when winter is in full swing in Scottsdale, Arizona. Most of the auction companies push their best offerings to these two events, and the consignors have learned that often the highest dollar results come from the best-known sales. But auction “real estate,” the coveted lot numbers on what are considered to be the prime days and times to sell cars, has become crowded. Whereas a few years ago cars that were expected to bring less than $50,000 were part of that prime-time mix, today those cars might only be offered early in the sale — or perhaps encouraged to wait until another sale.
The headline-grabbing car this year was a single-owner Ferrari 275GTS/4. Selling for $27.5 million, it became the most expensive road (nonrace) car — as well as the most expensive Ferrari — ever sold at auction. Although the overall numbers were up, with a total of some $308 million vehicles sold, it took many, many truckloads of merchandise to get there. Let’s take a look at some of the offerings.
1967 Ferrari 275GTS/4 N.A.R.T. Spider
SOLD AT $27,500,000
SN 10709. Red with black top over tan leather. 300-hp, 3286-cc V-12; five-speed manual. Paint, brightwork, and interior are flawless. A superb example.
The right car, the right owner, the right season, the right story, and the right buyer all came together to make this one of the most memorable auction sales ever. The presale estimate was $14 to $17 million, so everyone knew it was going to be monumental. The last N.A.R.T. Spider that sold at auction came close to the $4 million mark in 2005, and the market has expanded since then.
The N.A.R.T. Spider is a 275GTB with the top cut off by Scaglietti when new. The story goes that American importer Luigi Chinetti saw a need for convertibles and convinced the powers that be to make a small number of them based on the 275GTB/4 coupe. They were given the N.A.R.T. moniker in honor of the decorated North American Racing Team. In the end, the cars weren’t big sellers — just ten were built.
This is the only known example that remained in the ownership of the original buyer. The story of that man, Eddie Smith, Sr., of Lexington, North Carolina, is one of rags to riches. He was orphaned at a young age but became a millionaire many times over as a result of his successful mail-order hosiery business. Smith owned multiple Ferraris, but this one was special — not just to him but to his family. Smith died in 2007, and six years later his family made the decision to sell the car and donate 100 percent of the proceeds to charity. They knew the car would bring millions of dollars but probably never expected a price
To say that the room was silent during the last minutes of bidding would be an understatement. When the final bid was gaveled, the room erupted in a roar that lasted through the next two cars to come up on the block. More than memorable, it was history.
1955 Jaguar D-type
SOLD AT $3,905,000
SN XKD530. British racing green over green leather interior. 300-hp (est.), 3781-cc in-line six; four-speed manual transmission. Physical condition is closer to “as raced” than restored. Configurable as a one- or two-seater. Cockpit is nicely done to the original spec aside from a few added rally clocks and stopwatches.
In the world of classic racing cars, engines, rear ends, transmissions, and other parts often got changed out. After the race cars were done with their careers, no one cared what happened when two or three major components — all claiming the same serial number — were separated. That’s what happened after this D-type’s ice-racing career in Finland ended. Two cars held a claim to the same serial number, which hurt the value of both vehicles because originality was in question. So the seller here did the smartest possible thing: he bought the other car and put all of the original parts on this D-type, selling the other as a replica. With a preauction estimate of between $4 and $5 million, this D-type fell short of the hoped-for price. Over time, however, more collectors will come to understand that this car is the real deal and should be treated as such. The new owner paid a below-market price on a genuine piece of Jaguar racing history.
1964 Alfa Romeo Giulia 1600 Sprint Speciale
SOLD AT $126,500
SN AR381257. Navy blue over red leather. 112-hp, 1570-cc four-cylinder; five-speed manual. 51,359 miles. Excellent paint with light surface scratches. Brightwork is very good; plastic emblems are delaminated and cracked. Good leather, with loose stitching on passenger’s seat. Steering wheel is the only serious problem area — the horn button is cracked and the spokes could use replating.
Don’t let the description fool you — this was a much-better-than-driver-quality car. Sprint Speciale prices have been all over the board of late, from well below $100,000 to more than $150,000. This one hit the happy middle, and deservedly so.
1972 Lamborghini Jarama 400GT
SOLD AT $112,750
SN 10322. Medium metallic blue over tan leather. 350-hp, 3929-cc V-12; five-speed manual. 15,123 miles. Very good paint with only surface scratches. Same with the brightwork, although it’s nice overall. Windshield and backlight gaskets are cracked. This one has unusual removable roof panels that cover most of the passenger compartment.
Selling for $32,750 above its high estimate of $80,000, this car very much surprised most observers. Jaramas are not the first cars you imagine when you think of Lamborghini, but they’re still front-engine V-12 cars from an era when Lamborghini was a small company making a big impact. Expensive today, maybe not so much next year.
1963 Porsche 356B cabriolet
SOLD AT $121,000
SN 158075. Metallic silver with black top over red leatherette. 88-hp, 1582-cc flat-four; four-speed manual. 50,399 miles. Restoration completed in February 2013. Originally ivory over black. Good paint. Chrome looks great from four feet away but has scratches and some surface pitting, mostly on the hubcaps and windshield surround. Porsche crests show their age. Seats are new, but some of the interior trim is worn.
Selling for just $1000 over its low estimate, this Porsche isn’t going to be a high-point show car anytime in the near future. But in the current market, it’s worth the price paid. This 356 is a great choice for the owner who wants to just get in and drive.
Gooding & Company
1954 Bentley R-type Continental fastback
SOLD AT $1,980,000
SN BC5LD. Dark green over gray and green leather. 178-hp (est.), 4887-cc in-line six; four-speed manual. Without flaw. Immaculate paint over impeccable bodywork, with excellent chrome and trim. Interior shows great wood, excellent leather, crisp gauges, and correct and well-fitted carpet. One of seven 4.9-liter left-hand-drive Continentals with a center-mounted four-speed manual shifter.
Bentley used the name Continental to denote its high-end grand touring car. For a time it was the fastest four-seater in the world, as well as the most expensive production car. The Continental could be expected to tour all day at speeds exceeding 90 or 100 mph.
This Continental was coachbuilt by Mulliner; aluminum was used extensively, and even items such as the glass and the carpet were made of lighter-weight materials. This car, built on the later D-series chassis, has its original 4.9-liter engine, as installed in eighty-two of the original 208 Continentals. Only forty-three Continentals were built with left-hand drive.
In the right colors and with a very good provenance, this car’s sale fell just $20,000 short of the $2 million mark. That’s big money in the world of Bentleys. Gooding called it “arguably the finest example in existence.” Until a better one is found, most people would agree.
1959 BMW Isetta 300
SOLD AT $33,000
SN 592213. Red with gray canvas sunroof over white vinyl. 13-hp, 298-cc one-cylinder; four-speed manual. Odometer shows just 1 mile. Decent paint, but flaws can be found. Great chrome, much of which appears to be freshly done. Some problems with the trim include dry rubber seals and the discoloring of at least one badge. Interior is nice, but seat vinyl could fit better. Worn steering wheel. Overall, a very nice driver that appears to have had quite a bit of money recently spent on it.
A good price for a good car; you could spend more and get less. Isettas seem to be priced on a scale of cuteness. This one was plenty cute and will provide lots of fun for the new owner.
1969 Chevrolet Camaro 396 RS/SS coupe
SOLD AT $110,000
SN 124379L501175. Rallye green with white vinyl top over white and black houndstooth. 375-hp, 396-cubic-inch V-8; four-speed manual. Nearly flawless paint. Well-done vinyl top. Excellent glass. All trim is new or as new. Interior is nearly perfect; we will happily forgive a flaw in a headrest seam.
Sold for well below the $160,000-to-$180,000 presale estimate. Perhaps the Gooding crowd is more attuned to European classics than American muscle. This was a great opportunity. If you took a nice example to a restoration shop, it would likely cost more than the price paid here to make it this nice.
1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante
SOLD AT $8,745,000
SN 57523. Black over tan leather. 200-hp, 3257-cc supercharged straight-eight; four-speed manual. 589 indicated miles. Excellent paint with no notable flaws. Excellent brightwork. Interior is the superstar here: the pigskin leather duplicates what the car would have originally been fitted with. Interior wood and trim are all excellent, as well. Truly a presentation worthy of Pebble Beach.
For the kind of money it took to buy this Bugatti, the buyer should expect nothing but the best. And nothing but the best is what was offered here. This car would be welcome on
any concours field in the world.
1965 Lamborghini Miura P400 prototype chassis
SOLD AT $473,000
Engine # 0293. Gray/black. Inoperable, 3929-cc V-12; five-speed manual. A stand-alone rolling chassis and powertrain. Excellent chrome wire wheels. Looks good but is not show ready.
Said to be the prototype chassis displayed at the 1965 Turin auto show, this would be perfect to hang on your wall if you already owned multiple Miuras. The chrome wire wheels — or at least the rear ones — might twist into little bits if you were to apply a full measure of throttle, not that it’s currently possible to do so. However, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this chassis as a fully built Miura sometime in the future. There are more than a handful of craftsmen just waiting to construct new body panels to fit it.
1959 AC Ace Bristol
SOLD AT $286,000
SN BEX1090. Dark blue with black top over black leather. 128-hp, 1971-cc in-line six; four-speed manual with overdrive. 3328 miles since late-2000s restoration. Racing-style seatbelts. Period wood-rimmed steering wheel. An excellent presentation throughout. Nearly flawless paint and chrome; the interior follows suit. It looks as good as or better than the day it left the factory.
Does this body shape look familiar? AC Cars was a specialist English builder with a long history when a Texas chicken farmer named Carroll Shelby decided to stick a large American V-8 under the hood of an Ace. Thus was born the Cobra. Only about 465 Ace Bristols were built, and even though an in-line six might seem like a pokey choice, these cars are delightful to drive.
The Bristol engine is actually derived from a prewar BMW design. You can thank war reparations for that. The exterior design of the Bristol was penned with the earlier Ferrari 166MM Barchetta in mind. Although this particular car has a replacement engine from sometime early in its life, it still is an extremely collectible and usable car for events and shows. As the value of Shelby Cobras increases, so does the value of AC Aces. Pricey but not overpriced.The $286,000 paid here would have bought you a 289 Cobra less than a decade ago.
1954 Chevrolet Corvette
SOLD AT $66,000
Engine # 0792086F54YG. Polo white with black top over red vinyl. 150-hp, 235-cubic-inch in-line six; automatic. Good paint over what is best described as decent panel fit (they were never perfect when new). Most brightwork is good but scratched. Pitted and rusted grille. Clean interior has its ups and downs — the gauge faces are good but the lenses need attention.
There are very few differences between the ’53 Corvette — its first model year — and the ’54. The ’53 brings a big premium; this was an excellent buy. These are primitive sports cars that still provide plenty of open-air fun.
1957 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I sedan
SOLD AT $38,500
SN LSED351. Cream and light olive over beige leather. 155-hp (est.), 4887-cc in-line six; automatic. 19,102 miles. Older paint has plenty of chips and cracks along with a few bubbles. It will need a strip and a repaint. Interior looks much better, with good leather and woodwork.
Not a lot of money for what appears to be a car that can be brought back to life. But who knows what evil lurks underneath the paintwork? If there’s rust or corrosion, the buyer should expect to spend somewhere around what he paid for the car in recommissioning costs.
1965 Ferrari 275GTS
SOLD AT $1,045,000
SN 07799. Yellow with black top over black leather. 260-hp, 3286-cc V-12; five-speed manual. 90,659 kilometers. Very nice repaint in fly yellow, but it’s a color change from new. Chrome and trim are all very good. Very light wear on the seats. Excellent carpets, dash, and gauges. Tidy and professionally detailed under the hood. Overall, a cosmetically top-notch 275GTS.
To some, the 275GTS and its later sister cars, the 330GTS and the very rare 365GTS, are the pinnacle of open-air Ferrari motoring from the ’60s. The knock against the 275 in particular is that it shares a similar look to the Fiat 124 Spider. You can buy a Fiat Spider for quite a bit less than the taxes you’d have to pay to register this car, but any comparison between the two cars is absurdly unfair. In today’s market, this is an appropriate price.
1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400
SOLD AT $836,000
SN 1120126. Rosso Lamborghini (orange red) over black leather. 375-hp, 3929-cc V-12; five-speed manual. 53,286 kilometers. Excellent fit and finish. Great paint. Clean under the hood. Great interior.
The first of the Lamborghini Countachs had a unique feature: a central “periscope” that was part of the roof structure and provided a tiny bit of extra visibility to the rear via the usual rearview mirror. The Countach went through major design changes in its lifetime, but many prefer the original’s uncluttered look, which endured until 1978. This example easily exceeded its $750,000 high estimate.
Russo and Steele
1984 Audi Coupe Quattro
SOLD AT $13,475
SN WAUDC0859EA900600. White over tan leather. 160-hp, 2144-cc in-line five; five-speed manual. Lots of paintwork evident, and not all panels match. Black trim is almost all good. Very clean interior has good carpets and seats; a carpet-style material covers the dash, but gauges are clear and the console looks good.
Introduced in the United States in 1982 for the 1983 model year, the Quattro shared a body with the Audi Coupe but added a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system and an independent rear suspension. The five-cylinder engine was turbocharged, and there were disc brakes on all four corners. This car listed for $35,000 in 1984, making it more than twice as expensive as the four-door four-wheel-drive 4000S Quattro. For comparison purposes, a Porsche 911 coupe had a list price of $31,950 in 1984. Only about fifty Quattros were sold in the United States in the ’84 model year. If you’re looking to invest in a European touring car from the ’80s, you couldn’t find many better choices than a Coupe Quattro. Despite some of the condition challenges here, this was a very good buy.
1967 Ford Bronco roadster
SOLD AT $29,700
SN U13NLA47062. Turquoise over white vinyl. 150-hp, 289-cubic-inch V-8; three-speed manual. Fewer than 13,000 miles. Soft top included. Good paint. Clean and tidy interior vinyl. Perhaps not Pebble Beach quality overall but more than good enough for a Bronco.
Once thought of as simply utilitarian vehicles, first-generation Ford Broncos are
now sought after by collectors in both stock and custom forms. It seems like everyone loves the Bronco — it’s simple to fix, easy to operate, and fun to drive. In those respects, it’s almost the perfect companion to the Ford Mustang of that era.
1960 Buick Invicta convertible
SOLD AT $34,100
SN 6G2014721. Titian red with white top over red and white vinyl. 325-hp, 401-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. Good quality paint, very good brightwork. Overall, very well done but not quite show quality. Very nice two-tone interior.
This car has lived on the West Coast since it was new. Great options include bucket
seats and a center console. One of a reported 5236 Invicta convertibles built for 1960. A
very nice example of a car rarely seen at auction. This one sold at a price fair enough that, even if you weren’t thinking about buying before you came to the auction, it might have just followed you home.
1959 Ford Country Squire
SOLD AT $30,800
SN H9RY190184. Black with faux wood panels over red, white, and black vinyl and cloth. Modified, 352-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. Factory air-conditioning. Very good paint and chrome. Wood siding is also well done. Bullet-style spinner hubcaps and a spotlight give it a late ’50s custom look. Interior is correct and appears fresh and well fitted. Engine, transmission, and suspension have been rebuilt.
Built at the San Jose plant, this wagon is said to have been a California resident nearly its entire life. The seller has made lots of performance and other updates, including disc brakes. At the price paid it would be tough to duplicate, but at the same time it’s unlikely to see much value appreciation in the near future.
1940 Ford DeLuxe Tudor Sedan
SOLD AT $27,500
SN 185844233. Tan over light brown cloth. 85-hp, 221-cubic-inch V-8; three-speed manual. Fewer than 1000 miles since rotisserie restoration. A mild custom. Said to have a rebuilt engine and transmission. Electrical system also redone, upgraded to an alternator. Well-done paint, very good brightwork, pinstripes. Very clean interior is in the original style but has
1940 was a watershed year for Ford. The new styling by Eugene Gregorie was popular then and has stood the test of time. In 1940, the DeLuxe Tudor Sedan was the biggest seller, with 171,368 built. The price new? $765.
1974 Stutz Blackhawk VI
SOLD AT $28,890
SN 2K57Y4P267129. Burgundy over tan leather. Modified, 455-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. Sunroof. Very good paint and good bodywork, but the trunk lid sits high on the right-hand side. Very good trim. Aftermarket wheels. Interior has good leather with some age and use wear. Gold-plated knobs, bezels, and other interior trim. Wood is delaminated in places.
The Stutz Blackhawk was a specialty car targeted at celebrities and potentates, and they gravitated to it much like they did with the late-’50s Dual-Ghia. The list of famous Blackhawk owners includes Lucille Ball, Sammy Davis, Jr., Isaac Hayes, Dean Martin, Wilson Pickett, Elvis Presley, and many more. The Blackhawk was designed by Virgil Exner, best known for his wild Chrysler creations of the 1950s and early ’60s. Most Blackhawks, such as this one, were built on a Pontiac Grand Prix chassis. A number of custom models also were made, including a four-door. When you add the element of time to what was once considered outrageous styling, you often end up with a flamboyant but desirable example of what many of the style leaders of the era thought was fashionable. It might be the punch line to a joke now, but we’ll see who’s laughing when one of these is the star of the 2055 Island of California Concours.
1951 Packard 200 sedan
SOLD AT $13,910
SN 249220265. Medium blue over gray cloth. 135-hp, 288-cubic-inch straight-eight; three-speed manual with overdrive. Excellent paint, chrome, and trim. Very good glass and gaskets. Very clean interior is redone to all stock. Great seats, carpet, and dash.
Restored to a quality hardly ever seen in older sedans. The new owner paid only a small percentage of what the restoration must have cost. This was a great buy for someone who wants to get into the old-car hobby on a budget yet have a fantastically well-done vehicle.
1990 Porsche 911 Carrera 2 Targa
SOLD AT $18,190
SN WPOBB2968LS460070. Red with black removable top over black leather. 247-hp, 3.6-liter flat-six; five-speed manual. Very good paint is said to be all original. Good blackout trim, good shut lines. Some wear at the edges of the Targa top. Interior shows some use and age wear but is still quite nice.
Listed as having a clean Carfax report with no accident damage, this Porsche appeals to a much broader market as a used/vintage car than it did when new. The price paid here
seems appropriate for the condition.
1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible
SOLD AT $82,925
SN 6Y85Q153417. Black with black top over black leather. 345-hp, 428-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. Just 315 miles on the odometer, which is undoubtedly how far it has traveled since its restoration. An excellent, close to over-the-top example. Much better than factory paint. Excellent brightwork. Excellent leather. Great console and dash. Numerous AACA Senior awards.
Triple black looks great on a number of cars. In this case, it looks exceptional. $83K is easily twice what you would expect to pay for an average ’66 T-bird . . . or even a very good one. This was expensive but worth it for a collector who wants the best.
1970 Chevrolet El Camino
SOLD AT $11,235
SN 136800L169164. Light blue over light blue vinyl. 250-hp, 350-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. 88,451 miles. Restored to a good quality throughout with very good paint. Good brightwork, with a few loose pieces of chrome trim. Wheels have some rust. Clean interior shows signs of wear.
A California resident since new, this El Camino looks ready for duty at local shows or perhaps as an occasional driver. With some wrench time and elbow grease, it could look even better. Any nonrusty ’70 El Camino can only be described as a bargain at this price.