Saturday, September 1, 2018


Along with the 'almost unaffordable' cars which grace the judging fields at the ‘Concorso Italiano’, ‘The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering’, and ‘The Pebble Beach Concours’ there are large herds of enthusiasts who gather to attend the multitude of auctions which are held on the Monterey Peninsula during ‘Monterey Week’.

Needless to say the gathering of well-heeled enthusiasts attracts all the major auction houses – Gooding & Company; RM Sothebys; Russo & Steele, Mecum and Bonhams.

There is fierce competition amongst the auction companies to acquire valuable properties to present to the collection of knowledgeable car nuts, who are always on the lookout for valuable automotive assets to acquire.

In 2014 the Monterey County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau conducted a formal survey and found that ‘Monterey Week’ attracts 85,000 visitors to the county.

They spend 4.4 nights on average, filling 36,200 hotel rooms, spending $53.5 million, and paying $4.8 million in local taxes.

That’s a huge injection into the finances of Monterey City, and the County.

Naturally, there are many people who are simply unable to find accommodation in Monterey, so they end up bunkered down in San Francisco – a two-hour drive away along the coast.

This can often be a painful commute up and down Route 101, especially in peak hours.

Seals don't have a problem finding accommodation in Monterey - anytime!
Given most of those who come to the auctions also attend various events on the Peninsula, then they are part of the impressive contributions to local charities which benefit from the millions of dollars changing hands.

After living and working in America for 12 years I have come to appreciate that wealthy Americans are generous in their support of charities, and caring about where their dollars go in support of people and causes.

Aston Martin, which has formed a partnership with RM Sotheby’s, enjoyed a wonderful start to their relationship when a beautiful 1963 Aston Martin DP215 Grand Touring Competition Prototype went under the auctioneer’s gavel at Pebble Beach for an astonishing $USD 21,455,000.

The most significant one-off Aston Martin Works car, the DP215 was driven by Lucien Bianchi and Phil Hill at Le Mans in 1963 and is the final David Brown competition Aston Martin.

However, RM Sotheby’s had an even bigger surprise for the auction attendees when a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold for a staggering USD$44 million!

The vehicle was estimated to fetch between $45 million and $60 million, the highest valuation ever for a vintage car at auction. It smashed the previous auction record of $38.1 million paid for a 1963 model of the same car in 2014.

The seller was Greg Whitten (right), chairman of Numerix Software Ltd. and an early Microsoft Corp. employee, who purchased it in 2000. 

Sotheby’s declined to say how much he bought it for, but said the market price for such Ferraris at the time was about $10 million.

Ferrari built just 36 examples of the model from 1953 to 1964, and these elegant racecars have generated the highest prices among all vintage automobiles in recent years. A 1963 version sold for $70 million in a private transaction earlier this year, according to Sotheby’s.
The Mecum auction house sold 360 cars for a total of USD$44.7 million.
It’s possible that the ‘Trump effect’ has played a part in investors seeking to put their funds into differing assets, given the overall growth in both the Dow and NASDAQ indices since The Donald’s election.
Whatever the reason, it seems vintage car values are growing again, and in 2018 we may yet see more records broken.
According to my friend John Connolly, a regular and astute auction watcher, he said in today’s The Weekend Australian, that USD$500 million worth of cars were sold this year in Monterey, up 12% on the previous year.
David Gooding’s auction house added to the lustre of high-end auctions by selling actor Gary Cooper’s 1935 Duesenberg SSJ roadster for USD$30 million.
Okay, the hotel room rates get hiked this time of year; and the cocktails at the bar are probably twice their normal price, but a lot of people with loose cash, love and lust for gorgeous cars, zero in on Monterey every August, and despite all the chat about electric cars, ride-sharing, and the growing threat of autonomous vehicles, interest in great cars keeps on going - stronger it seems than the Energiser bunny!

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