There are few better backdrops for selling multimillion dollar classics and supercars than the picturesque shores of Lake Como in Cernobbio, Italy. This past weekend, RM Sotheby’s set up camp on the grounds of Villa Erba, a sprawling 18th-century estate located just down the water from Villa d’Este, home of the Concorso Eleganza held on the same weekend.
It was in this setting that one of the most hyped cars of the weekend, a 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR 3.8, sold for $2,268,000 — a price more or less in line with its pre-sale estimate. Why so much for a 964-series 911, and why is it so filthy? The car is just one of two ’93 RSR 3.8 race cars to be custom-ordered with a fully trimmed leather interior and has covered just six miles (yes, six) from new. The car is so new, in fact, that it still wears its factory-applied cosmoline — a waxy layer of paint protectant that dealers typically remove before delivering a new car — which has attracted all the dirt and dust shown in the photos.
Despite the supple Can Can Red leather inside, there was no question about this car’s racing pedigree with its heavily cambered wheels, full roll cage (trimmed in leather on this car), air jack pneumatic fitting, tow hook, and electric safety shut-off switch. What will the new owner do with the car? We expect the low mileage will ensure this one is more of a static display than a car to use, but we do hope that the cosmoline is at least removed.
The Porsche was one of six cars to sell for more than six figures at the RM Sotheby’s auction, with the top sale of the day going to a gorgeous 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS “Goutte d’Eau” Coupe, which brought $3,780,000. It retains its original engine and drivetrain from new, as well as being bodied on a special lightweight, short-wheelbase chassis designed for racing use.
Runnerup to the Talbot-Lago was a 1935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Prototype at $3,402,000. Out of single-family ownership for the past 62 years, the Bugatti was the first of the popular Atalante cars to be built and designed by the French carmaker. It is one of the more iconic and sought-after classic Bugatti models today.
Several other cars reached six-figures at the sale but failed to sell, including the 2012 Pebble Beach best-of-show winning 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S Torpedo-Sport Avante-Garde, which stalled on the block at $5,681,250 — a bid that was roughly a million dollars shy of the low estimate and continues to show that the going can be rough for cars over the $5 million threshold. Another star of the sale, a 1930 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider, also failed to meet reserve at $2,081,250.
Contemporary supercars were well represented, but results were a mixed bag. A 2016 Porsche 911 R — number 235 of just 991 examples built (and promptly sold out) — sold for $403,200. With a starting MSRP of around $185,000, the owner essentially doubled his money and got to put about 600 miles on the car before selling. If that’s investing, we want in.
Meanwhile, a 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari (that name hasn’t gotten any more elegant over the last couple years) that was essentially as-new brought $2,756,250 (original MSRP around $1.35 million), but the previous owner only put around 100 miles on his toy. That result was a little short of a near $3 million low estimate, but the consignor decided to cut it loose anyhow.
However, it wasn’t all roses for the latest hot metal, as a 2016 McLaren P1 GTR, one of 27 converted for road use, didn’t sell at $3,206,250 — perhaps a result of the somewhat limited market for such an extreme vehicle. A 2016 Ferrari F12tdf also failed to meet reserve at $759,375, a bid about 50 percent higher than new MSRP. A 2004 Ferrari Enzo suffered the same fate, topping out at $1,912,500 — the owner was looking for a little more than $2 million.
Though the sell-through rate for RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba auction was a somewhat disappointing 62 percent, the 41 vehicles that sold brought a total of $28,525,331 for a huge average sale price of $695,984. That should keep confidence strong in the market as we look ahead to the major sales during the Monterey Car Week in August, provided there’s no major economic event in the meantime.