Limited-Production Sports Racing Cars Top Monterey Sales

Every August, thousands of people from all over the world make the pilgrimage to the Monterey Peninsula in California to take part in what has simply become known as Monterey Week. These serious automobile enthusiasts and collectors come to see the fabulous array of fine cars at the Pebble Beach Concours, Pebble Beach Tour, The Quail Motorsports Gathering, Concorso Italiano and The Monterey Historic Races at Laguna Seca. They also come in vast numbers to buy collector cars at the six auctions crammed into the week.

Each auction had its own flavor, but they all had something in common: sports racing cars and limited-production European sports and touring cars consistently brought the highest prices. This wasn’t surprising because traditionally, these are the kinds of cars that do well at the Monterey sales, just as muscle cars generally reign at Scottsdale . In every case, the top seller at each auction was one of just a handful built on a limited production chassis. Surprisingly, the top sellers for both Christies and RM were Talbot-Lago T-150 chassis with very desirable and very rare teardrop coupe coachwork by Figoni et Falaschi (pictured here). The only car bringing a higher price ($3,960,000) was the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS /4 NART Spider offered by Gooding & Company.

Although prewar European classics were in the distinct minority at the Monterey sales, it’s interesting to note that of the six sales, three of them – Christie’s, RM and Bonhams & Butterfields had European classics as their top sellers. American classics weren’t heavily represented, although Gooding and Company took in $2.2 million for a 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ.

Unusual Ferraris are holding their values well, and the NART Spider was just one example. The price was so high because the 275 GTB/4 coupe on which the car is based has always been very desirable and only 10 examples of the NART Spider were built. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s incredibly beautiful. Other hefty Ferrari prices were also realized by a 1970 512 sports racer, 1959 250GT California Spider, 1965 1512 Formula 1 car and the 1960 250GT Nembo Spider.

If sports and racing cars did well in general during Monterey Week, all things Shelby sold extremely well. A very rare Daytona Cobra Coupe brought almost $1.5 million at Russo and Steele. Interestingly, the top five sellers at Russo & Steele were high-performance Ford-powered vehicles, consisting of the Daytona Coupe, two Cobra roadsters with competition history, a Shelby GT350R and a Saleen S7. Bonhams also had a 289 Cobra roadster among its top sellers, while R&M realized $2.5 million for a Ford GT40 prototype, $462,000 for a 427 Cobra and $379,500 for a 289 Cobra.

Most attendees of American collector car auctions expect to see lots of muscle cars on offer with many going for substantial prices. However, due to the many European car and racing events taking place during the event week, the Monterey audience doesn’t tend to be as good for muscle as it does for sports and racing cars. As a result, those muscle cars up for auction (primarily at Russo & Steele and RM) brought strong, but not record-setting results. A 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda sold for $412,000, a 1965 Super Stock Hemi Plymouth Savoy brought $148,500 and a 1963 Ford Galaxie 500XL Lightweight cost its new owner $110,000.

The cars that brought the top prices tended to be unusual and in top condition. They were also the cars that best suited to the auction-goers who came with their checkbooks. The Kruse sale of the Ferrari Enzo for $1,000,000 is a perfect example of the right car for the right venue. The Kruse sale was held at the Black Horse Golf Course, on the same day and at the same location as Concorso Italiano. As a result, a desirable and limited-production Ferrari such as the Enzo found the perfect audience of dedicated Italian car enthusiasts. At the same time, even though the $9,250 sales price of the Bertone X1/9 sounds paltry, it was an excellent price for a car that has a limited following. Again, the price realized was heavily dependent upon an audience that just loved Italian cars. Cars that weren’t appropriate to the audience simply didn’t sell.

Auction results tend to vary with each year, but a few trends were clear. Prices were strong for cars that were powerful, beautiful, had racing history and were built in mere handfuls. Here are the Top 10 Auction Results at Monterey :

Top 10 Cars at 2005 Monterey Auctions

Rank Make and Model Price Auction
1) 1967 Ferrari 275GTS/4 NART Spider $3,960,000 Gooding & Co.
2) 1938 Talbot-Lago T150 C Teardrop Coupe $3,685,000 RM
3) 1937 Talbot-Lago T150 C/SS F&F Teardrop $3,535,000 Christies
4) 1964 Ford GT40 Protoype $2,502,500 RM
5) 1933 Duesenberg SJ Murphy $2,200,000 Gooding & Co.
6) 1932 Alfa Romeo Tipo B P3 Monoposto $2,100,000 RM
7) 1970 Ferrari 512 S $1,947,000 RM
8) 1957 Jaguar XKSS $1,925,000 Gooding & Co.
9) 1955 Jaguar D-Type $1,815,000 Gooding & Co.
10) 1959 Ferrari 250GT LWBCalifornia Spider $1,457,500 RM
10) 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe $1,457,500 Russo & Steele

Top Sale at Each Auction Bonhams

1936 Hispano Suiza Type T68 J12 Berline $ 720,000 Bonhams
1937 Talbot-Lago T150C SS F&F Teardrop coupe $3,535,000 Christies
1967 Ferrari 275GTS/4 NART Spider $3,960,000 Gooding & Company
1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C Teardrop Coupe $3,685,000 RM
1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe $1,457,500 Russo & Steele
2003 Ferrari Enzo $1,000,000 Kruse International