At the macro level, there were few surprises in Monterey this year. We predicted that overall numbers would be down for the second year in a row (they were); and we said that the best of the best would sell for good money and that OK cars with unrealistic reserves would go back home with their owners (they did). But that doesn’t mean that there were no surprises at the individual lot level. Here are some cars in every price range that stood out as particularly interesting results:
1995 Land Rover Defender 90 ($115,500 at Russo and Steele)- A few years ago, we were treated to the sight of the first $100,000 plus Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. Its echo is still reverberating – every catalog sale still has at least one over-restored FJ40. But that very over-supply spurred by those initial big sales are the very reason that FJ40s seldom approach six figures anymore. Enter the Land Rover Defender. The V-8 Defender 90 and LWB 110 were only sold legally in North America for a couple of model years. They’re absolutely irresistible, combining the great looks of the earlier Series II Landys with V-8 power that allows them to be driven at actual highway speeds. This ultra-low mileage example broke six figures, but was a bargain at the same time. Look for a flood of Defenders to hit the auctions.
1967 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 SII ($737,000 at RM/Sotheby’s)- RM Sotheby’s West Coast Managing Director Ian Kelleher called this one the battle of wills between two bidders who simply had to have the car. How else could one explain a formerly unloved 2+2 Ferrari (albeit a very nicely restored example) selling for more than at least one 365 GTB/4 Daytona did? Granted, this was a very elegant Enzo-era Ferrari V-12, but the fact of the matter is that Enzo-era Ferraris have flat lined for the moment. This was a huge price (perhaps double the market value), just for one Type-A bidder to vanquish another equally Type-A bidder.
1967 Toyota 2000 GT ($533,500 at Gooding)- What goes up, must come down goes the old cliché. Toyota 2000 GTs had been flirting with the million dollar market for a few years, but lately, every under 5’ 7” collector who wants one, seems to have gotten one. They’re cooling off considerably. This very lovely example actually hammered for under $500,000, something unseen in this market for a while. The right-hand drive configuration didn’t help much in California and perhaps the Brits in attendance were a little gun shy this time around with the Brexit uncertainty just two months removed.
1994 Porsche Carrera Turbo Flachbau ($1,100,000 at Gooding)- For a car that is barely old enough to drink legally, this was an astonishing result. Or perhaps not. It’s the definition of rare – just 39 U.S.-spec examples were hand-built by Porsche’s famous sonderwunsches (special wishes) department. And, did we mention that it had just 40 miles from new? It sat most of its life at the Blackhawk Collection in Danville, Calif. Sadly, much of its value is based on the fact that it was pickled from new. So, it’s unlikely to see any serious use with its new owner. A pity.
1980 Fiat Spider 2000 ($14,580 Russo and Steele)- On the reasonably-priced car front, this particular result was both happy for the seller, and discouraging for bargain-lovers. The Fiat Spider 2000, is one of those cars that has been inexplicably cheap for too long. Lovely Tom Tjaarda styling (from his days at Pininfarina), a great convertible top and an eager twin-cam engine make 124s and Spider 2000s a lot of fun for cheap money. Maybe it’s the introduction of the new Miata-based Fiat 124 Spider, but suddenly, these things aren’t looking so cheap anymore. They’re still out there for under $10,000 on Craigslist, but if you want one, take this as a sign not to dither.