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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

All-Time Auction Record Broken but Many Reserve Prices Go Unmet
By Larry Edsall
Most expensive auction vehicle

For the third year in a row, the world collector car auction price record was broken at the Ferrari Leggenda e Passione event in Italy. However, the anticipated U.S. collector car auction sales price record was not broken in bidding for the historic Shelby Daytona Coupe at Indianapolis. Details follow:

Record price at RM Maranello
Only 36 cars were offered at the third Ferrari Leggenda e Passione auction staged by RM Auctions in Ferrari's hometown of Maranello, and only 27 of those cars (75 percent) sold. But those sales totaled nearly $28.5 million, or to put it another way – the average price of more than a million dollars per vehicle.

Leading the sales list was a world record 9.02-milion Euros ($12.4 million) for the Scaglietti-designed and pontoon-fendered 1957 Ferrari 250 TR that made its debut with a fourth-place finish in the 1000-kilometer event at Buenos Aires and continued to compete into the 1963 season.

The sale broke the record for the most expensive transaction at a collector car auction. The previous standard had been set in the same even a year ago, when a 1961 250 GT Spyder California formerly owned by actor James Coburn sold for $10.9 million, breaking the nearly $9.3 million mark set the previous year at the inaugural Maranello event for the 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM that had been driven to victory at Le Mans by Phil Hill and Olivier Gendebien.

That former record was nearly matched by a bid of $9.9 million for one of three Ferrari 330 P4s ever built. The car that won the 1000-kilometer race at Monza, was third at Le Mans, and clinched Ferrari's 1967 world championship with a second-place at Brands Hatch was being offered for sale for the first time in nearly 40 years. The high bid of 7.25-million Euros did not meet the car's reserve.

Among other bids that did not meet reserves was 4-million Euros ($5.5 million) for a 1962 250 GT California. Seven of the unsold lots were bid to more than 1-million Euros.

Other top sales included nearly $3.18 million for a 1956 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France and $2.9 million for a 1959 250 GT California.

1999 Shelby CobraReserves not met at Mecum
Unmet reserve prices took the edge off the 22nd annual Dana Mecum's Original Spring Classic Auction at Indianapolis, where vehicles including the world championship-winning 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe, a 1964 Cobra 289 competition roadster and a 1966 427 S/C were bid beyond a million dollars but did not sell.

The auction's showcase --vehicle, the Daytona Coupe that Bob Bondurant and his co-drivers steered past Ferrari to win the world manufacturers championship -- opened with a bid of $4 million and went up from there, though the final bid of $6.8 million was not enough to meet the reserve. However, the $6.8 million bid was more than the $6.49 million paid in an U.S. collector car auction in 2002 for a 1962 Ferrari TR1 330/LM.

The '64 Cobra 289 racer and '66 427 S/C were bid to a reported $1.3 million each but, like the Daytona Coupe, did not sell.

Nonetheless, the sale was the biggest in Mecum's long history, with 70 percent of lots selling for nearly $40 million. Some 35 of those sales, worth $2.5 million, have come since the auction under what Mecum terms its "The Bid Goes On" program.

The top sales that were consummated on the auction block were $1.165 million for a 1966 Shelby 427 S/C and $1 million for a 1966 Shelby Cobra competition roadster. Yet another Shelby – this one a one-off, 428 cid-equipped 1967 GT500 (Mustang) convertible -- brought $825,000. Fourth-highest was yet another Shelby-related vehicle -- the 1964 Los Angeles Times Grand Prix-winning Cooper Monaco King Cobra that sold for $600,000.

Highest prices paid for non-Shelbys was $375,000, the sales figure for a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 convertible and for the 1938 Blue Crown Special that raced in the Indianapolis 500 five times from 1939-1947.

Bonhams & Butterfields & bikes
Classic motorcycles are being increasingly sought out by collectors. For one thing, they are smaller and less expensive than classic cars, so you can buy and display more of them for the same amount of money, and as one collector has noted, all of their mechanical components are exposed, not hidden away under a hood or huge fenders.

Bonhams & Butterfields stages an annual classic car auction each summer at The Quail Lodge in Carmel, California, so it figured it would hold a motorcycle sale during the inaugural The Quail Motorcycle Gathering in early May.

Topping all sales was $111,150 paid for a 1950 Vincent Series C White Shadow, one of only 15 such bikes produced. A 1963 Triumph Bonneville Desert Sled that was built by stunt rider and off-road racer Bud Ekins, painted by Von Dutch and owned by Steve McQueen, sold for $84,240. McQueen's 1929 Harley 45ci DL sold for $39,780 and McQueen's international driver's license, issued in 1964, sold for $42,700.

A 1911 Indian 61ci Twin went for $54,990 and a 1963 Honda 125cc CR93 brought $50,310.

Shows of force
East, west or in between, there are great car shows to attend on June 7:

14th annual Greenwich concours d'elegance actually runs June 6 and 7 and this year will feature "boats in the water and boattails on land," with a display of vintage and contemporary power boats and an array of 1930s boattailed classic cars on the ground at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park on the harbor at Greenwich, Connecticut. The weekend includes a Bonhams auction that this year features the collection of the late Ted Leonard, who collected cars owned by celebrities and "Silver Screen" movie stars. On the block will be a 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Ascot Tourer used in The Great Gatsby starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow and a 1938 Packard Darrin convertible owned by Clark Gable.

13th annual Orphan car show, June 7 at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is open only to vehicles whose makers no longer are in business or, in the case of imports, no longer export to the United States. The exception is the Chevrolet Corvair, a local favorite which was produced at nearby Willow Run. Ypsilanti has a proud automotive history, and was home to the Hudson Motor Car Co., though that's automaker's centennial celebration, which is scheduled for July 13-17, will be held not at Ypsi but up in Pontiac, north of Detroit.

4th annual Los Angeles concours d'elegance, June 7 at the Rose Bowl and adjacent Brookside golf course in Pasadena, highlights 350 vehicles from early horseless carriages to Delahayes and Bugattis and on through sports and muscle cars of the 1960s, with a few hot rods and racecars also on display.

And though it doesn't take place until Father's Day weekend, don't forget the 22nd annual Eyes on Design, June 21 at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan. This is the Detroit's auto industry's own annual classic car and design show. The event is organized by the Detroit Institute of Ophthalmology, which invites vision-impaired youngsters to give special awards based not on how cars look but how they feel to white-gloved hands. Harley-Davidson's Willie G. Davidson will be a special guest this year and will honored at a night-before event at the GM Heritage Center and then will be part of a special "Ride with Willie" motorcycle ride to the show on Father's Day morning.

Mark your calendar

May
22-23 – Kruse at Paso Robles, California
28-31 – Kruse at Auburn, Indiana

June
7 – Bonhams at Greenwich, Connecticut
12-14 – Kruse Leake at Tulsa, Oklahoma
20 – Kruse Smokey Mountain, Kruse at Boston, Mecum at St. Paul, Minnesota
26-27 – Mecum Bloomington Gold at St. Charles, Illinois

July
10-12 – Kruse at San Jose
17-18 – Mecum at Des Moines
24-25 – Kruse at Denver

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