With the hype for this summer's big auctions at Monterey starting to build, it's interesting to note that the recent private sale of a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO makes it the most expensive classic car transaction on record.
It wasn't all that long ago that a 1936 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic sold (again, in a private transaction) for a reported $30-$34 million. But cell phone pioneer and prominent car collector Craig McCaw paid a reported $35 million for the GTO.
The Ferrari already has proven to be an excellent investment: Eric Heerema, a native of The Netherlands, bought the car some 10 years ago for $8.5 million. And, fortunately, he used the car for go as well as show, driving it in vintage speed events until having it restored two years ago.
The GTO had been built for and originally sold to Stirling Moss, who planned to race it at Le Mans. Moss didn't drive the car there, but Innes Ireland and Masten Gregor did. The car was a DNF at Le Mans, but Gregory later drove it to a victory in the Tourist Trophy competition at Goodwood.
For the record, the record for a classic car sold at a public auction is $16.39 million, set last year for a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.
All of those prices are impressive, but let's put them into some sort of perspective: Just a couple of weeks ago, someone paid $4.4 million -- for a New York Yankees road jersey that Babe Ruth wore in his first season with the team. And just a few days before that, someone paid $119.9 million for one (one of four, by the way) of Edvard Munch's "The Scream" paintings. That $119.9 mill set a record price for a piece of art sold at auction.
Anyone want to speculate how long before a classic car sells for half a much as that painting?
It's not likely to be this year, but there are some enticing vehicles being announced for the August auctions at Monterey. RM will have a pair of Fort GT40s -- including the one used as the camera car for Steve McQueen's Le Mans movie -- as well as the 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Berlinetta by Scaglietta and the only Jeancart-style 1938 Talbot-Lago T23 teardrop coupe; Gooding's lineup includes the 1955 Maserati A6G/54 Frua Berlinetta and Prince Louis Napoleon's 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Stelvio; and Mecum will offer a collection of 71 MV Agusta motorcycles, the turbine-powered Lotus driven in the 1968 Indianapolis 500 by Graham Hill, and the 1968 Porsche 917/10 that won the Can-Am series for Penske Racing.
Auburn Spring auction does $4.6 million
Auctions America's second Auburn Spring sale resulted in a 71-percent sell-through rate and more than $4.6 million in sales.
The top sale was $484,000 for a 1930 Duesenberg Model J boattail speedster. A Hemi-powered 1969 Dodge Charger 500 went for $130,000, a 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz for $107,250, a 1959 Jaguar XK150 S brought $102.300 and a 1958 Chevrolet Impala $97,000.
"Each year when the weather gets warm, you see that upswing in interest in convertibles," said Auctions America by RM president Donnie Gould. "Our car specialists made sure we had plenty of them consigned; 42 percent of our cars at Auburn Spring were open-air vehicles of some kind."
In addition to vehicles, nearly 2000 items of automobilia were up for bidding, with a 1/8-scale Conti Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider bringing more than $12,000.
Duesenberg tops Dragone
We finally got the top sales from the recent inaugural classic car auction staged by Dragone Auctions. The top sale was $1.38 million for a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Beverly formerly part of the Blackhawk and Imperial Palace collections. A 1963 Ferrari 250 GTL Lusso sold for $900,000.
Two other vehicles broke into six figures: $230,000 for a 1954 Porsche Pre-A Speedster originally owned by Dan Gurney and Skip Hudson and $102,000 for a 1941 Packard 160 convertible coupe.
More Mecum success at Indy
Not only did Mecum Auctions have a successful 25th annual Original Spring Classic auction at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, but just a few days later the Mecum-sponsored Panther DDR racing car driven by Oriol Servia finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500.
Greenwich concours winners
Best in show honors at the Greenwich concours d'elegance went to a 1954 Packard Panther owned by Ralph and Adeline Marano in the American division and to a 1938 Horch 853 Special Roadster owned by Joseph Cassini in the Foreign category.
The Panther was one of only four built and one of the two that remain.
The Horch had won best-in-show honors at Pebble Beach in 2004 and goes back there this summer to drive across the block in the RM auction.
Museum showcases Chevrolet centennial
The AACA Museum at Hershey, Pennsylvania plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Chevrolet vehicle to roll off the assembly line with a special 30-vehicle exhibit that opens June 15 and runs through mid-October. Among the vehicles on display is a 1912 Little, the 1935 Suburban prototype, and the Monza GT concept. The celebration includes an all-Chevy car show July 22 on the grounds outside the museum.
LeMay museum opens
The not-so-modestly named LeMay -- America's Car Museum has opened to the public in Tacoma, Washington. At any given time, some 350 vehicles will be on display in the facilities 165,000-square-foot museum. The grounds include a 3.5-acre show field for automotive gatherings. For more information, including hours of operation, visit www.lemaymuseum.org.
Mark your calendar:
Mecum's auction of the Salmon Brothers collection is June 16 at North Little Rock, Arkansas.
There's almost too much happening the weekend of June 22-23, including the Barrett-Jackson auction at California's Orange County fairgrounds, Bloomington Gold and a Mecum auction just outside Chicago, the Dana Point concours d'elegance, and The Great Race launches from Traverse City, Michigan, on the 23rd, heads north into Michigan's Upper Peninsula, then across Ontario to New York before finishing July 1 at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan.
The Goodguys Rod & Custom Association and Superformance LLC will stage a 50th anniversary Shelby gathering July 7 as part of the PPG Nationals at Columbus, Ohio. The celebration will include a special "Snake Pit" parking area for Cobras.
Classic Motorcar Auctions plans a summer sale of automobilia and petroliana July 13-14 at Canton, Ohio.
Click here for event calendar.
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