Holy Auctions, Batman! This Market's A Riddle...
POW! $1,375,000 for a US market version of Ferrari's unloved F50? BAM! $1,540,000 for an early, drum braked Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster? KA-BOOM! $885,000 for an average looking Ferrari 330GTC with Daytona style wheels? Oh, and SCREECH! That's the Batmobile being sold for $4,620,000. "Go figure..." as the American expression tells us, so we'll try.
We've just returned from the Arizona auctions and the Cavallino Classic in Palm Beach, both of which confounded those trying to apply any kind of logic to the classic car world. Under the desert sun, in the middle of a global financial crisis, collectors, enthusiasts and dealers bought and sold a record amount of obsolete machinery ranging from the original 1960s Batmobile to Clark Gable's Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, whilst the following weekend the blue skies and picturesque beaches of southern Florida provided the backdrop for an orgy of automotive polishing, parading and prize-giving centred around the Prancing Horse marque.
The action in Scottsdale highlighted several trends. First, it's getting harder to find good cars for sale. RM's traditional two-day auction was down to one this year, and none of the catalogues offered much to tempt the most jaded palates. Secondly, whilst the fad for preservation continues to grow (frequently confused with neglect), plenty of bidders still just can't help themselves when confronted with something not entirely 'right' which promises lots of glitz and immediate satisfaction- I'm thinking of more than one car which had been restored with scant regard for originality but attracted strong bidding from those who should have known better "because it just looked great". Thirdly, America and Europe may only be separated by a few hours time difference but the mood of wealthy consumers couldn't be further apart. Here in Europe we agonise for hours, days or weeks about an important purchase and more often than not decide we can't afford it. Our American counterpart reads the Wall Street Journal, resolves to work harder and puts up his hand to bid. You can almost hear Clark Gable saying: "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."
2013 Scottsdale Auctions- Close Enough to a Quarter-Billion Dollars
by Rick Carey
$227,967,267 - to be as exact as possible right now - changed hands for collector cars at the five major collector car auctions - Barrett-Jackson, RM, Gooding, Bonhams and Russo & Steele - in Arizona in mid-January.
That's up a healthy 25% from 2012, and a merely astonishing 44.6% from 2011 as the Arizona auctions move steadily upscale with the presence of all the major North American collector car auctions except Mecum - and Mecum began selling cars in Kissimmee, Florida even before the Arizona auctions reached Saturday Prime Time, eventually offering something like 2,500 cars in a nine-day run through the week following Arizona.
Arizona in January is unique among major auction events in being only, specifically and exclusively a commercial enterprise. There are no shows, races, expositions or swap meets in the Valley of the Sun in January, just cars for sale at every turn.
The 2013 Arizona totals included fewer cars than 2012 (2,143 this year, 2,265 in 2012, down 5.4%), and even a slightly lower sale rate (88.6% this year, 89.2% in 2012). The caliber of the offering, however, continued to improve, a character reflected in the median sale (up by $500) but more particularly in the average transaction, $120,109 this year, up exactly a third from last year's $90,270.
30 cars sold on hammer bids of $1 million or more, almost double the 16 seven-figure cars sold in Arizona in 2012. The two top sales, Gooding's 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider s/n 1073GT for $8,250,000 and RM's 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione s/n 1905GT for $8,140,000, were each nearly double the value of 2012's top sale, the staggering $4,620,000 Gooding got for alloy Gullwing s/n 1980435500208.
Maybe more remarkable was Barrett-Jackson's top sale, one of George Barris's Batmobiles (from the TV show, not the movies) for $4,620,000, a two-bidder contest ultimately settled directly between the bidders on the flip of a coin (heads you bid once more and get the car, tails I get it at the present $4.2 million bid.) That kind of bidder collusion is usually frowned on, but not at $4.2 million for a TV car, even one allegedly based on the Lincoln Futura concept car. The successful buyer got George's embroidered black sateen jacket, too.
The top of the market continues to be impressively strong. 18 of the seven-figure cars had pre-sale estimates (B-J, with 10 of the seven-figure cars, doesn't publish estimates and two others were EOR.) Nine of them brought hammer bids over their high estimates, a fairly astounding 50% of the seven-figure crowd.
The following is a summary of the million-dollar club in Arizona, a total of $68,967,500 worth of automotive jewelry (30.3% of the week's total.) It would make a fine collection.
Lot # 030 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider (Pinin Farina), S/N 1073GT Sold for hammer bid of $7,500,000, with commission $8,250,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 164 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione (Scaglietti), S/N 1905GT Sold for hammer bid of $7,400,000, with commission $8,140,000 RM Arizona
Lot # 5037 #1 Batmobile (George Barris), Sold for hammer bid of $4,200,000, with commission $4,620,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 112 1959 Porsche RSK 718 Spyder, S/N 718023 Sold for hammer bid of $2,850,000, with commission $3,135,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 122 1957 Maserati 150 GT Spider (Fantuzzi), S/N 03 Sold for hammer bid of $2,800,000, with commission $3,080,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 038 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Cabriolet A (Sindelfingen), S/N 105379 Sold for hammer bid of $2,500,000, with commission $2,750,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 116 1933 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe (Murphy), S/N 2446 Sold for hammer bid of $2,450,000, with commission $2,695,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 126 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Speciale (Pinin Farina), S/N 1187GT Sold for hammer bid of $2,150,000, with commission $2,365,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 5001 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, S/N 1980405500323 Sold for hammer bid of $1,850,000, with commission $2,035,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 5019 1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 Grand Sport Coupe (Franay), S/N 110113 Sold for hammer bid of $1,850,000, with commission $2,035,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 025 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante, S/N 57766 Sold for hammer bid of $1,850,000, with commission $2,035,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 122 1967 Shelby Cobra 427 S/C Roadster, S/N CSX 3045 Sold for hammer bid of $1,825,000, with commission $2,007,500 RM Arizona
Lot # 145 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, S/N 10195 Sold for hammer bid of $1,675,000, with commission $1,842,500 RM Arizona
Lot # 125 1938 Delahaye 135 MS Coupe (Figoni), S/N 60112 Sold for hammer bid of $1,400,000, with commission $1,540,000 RM Arizona
Lot # 110 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, S/N 1980427500195 Sold for hammer bid of $1,400,000, with commission $1,540,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 045 2003 Ferrari Enzo, S/N ZFFCW56A230131882 Sold for hammer bid of $1,350,000, with commission $1,485,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 5004 1934 Duesenberg Model J LWB Custom Beverly Sedan (Murphy), S/N 2489 Sold for hammer bid of $1,300,000, with commission $1,430,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 5034 1956 Chrysler Diablo Concept Convertible (Ghia), S/N 9999796 Sold for hammer bid of $1,250,000, with commission $1,375,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 008 1995 Ferrari F50 Berlinetta, S/N ZFFTG46AXS0104192 Sold for hammer bid of $1,250,000, with commission $1,375,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 032 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Series V Gran Sport Spider (Zagato), S/N 10814400 Sold for hammer bid of $1,250,000, with commission $1,375,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 141 1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster (Derham), S/N 2440 Sold for hammer bid of $1,200,000, with commission $1,320,000 RM Arizona
Lot # 152 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, S/N 08697 Sold for hammer bid of $1,200,000, with commission $1,320,000 RM Arizona
Lot # 167 2003 Ferrari Enzo, S/N ZFFCW56A030133923 Sold for hammer bid of $1,200,000, with commission $1,320,000 RM Arizona
Lot # 5007 1929 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8AS Convertible Coupe, S/N 1535 Sold for hammer bid of $1,200,000, with commission $1,320,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 5025 1971 Plymouth 'Cuda Hemi Convertible, S/N BS27R1B295949 Sold for hammer bid of $1,200,000, with commission $1,320,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 135 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 Roadster, S/N CSX 2509 Sold for hammer bid of $1,200,000, with commission $1,320,000 Gooding Scottsdale
Lot # 401 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A (Sindelfingen), S/N 169396 Sold for hammer bid of $1,171,429, with commission $1,312,500 Bonhams Scottsdale
Lot # 335 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV, S/N 5012 Sold for hammer bid of $1,084,375, with commission $1,215,000 Bonhams Scottsdale
Lot # 5016 1949 Delahaye Type 175 Coupe De Ville (Saoutchik), S/N 815004 Sold for hammer bid of $1,100,000, with commission $1,210,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Lot # 3016 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Coupe, First production, s/n ...0001, Charity sale, no buyer's commission, $1,100,000 Barrett-Jackson 2013
Images courtesy of RM Auctions, Gooding & Company, Mike Maez, Barrett Jackson, Rick Carey