The 2018 RM Monterey sale produced the three most expensive British cars, the second most expensive Ford GT40, and the most expensive car ever sold at auction, period.
Those of us in the car world—and many outside the car world, actually—had been anticipating the ($48.4 million) Ferrari 250 GTO consigned by RM Sotheby’s for months, but Friday’s portion of RM’s two-day sale was mostly about Aston Martin DP215, the last thoroughbred Aston racer of the David Brown era. After a polished video presentation, the DP215 roared onto the stage to applause and attracted numerous bids in the kind of increments that would normally buy you a nice house. It finally changed hands at $21,455,000. That slots in behind the $21.78M achieved by the 1956 Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type sold here in 2016 and the $22.55M commanded by the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 here last year, making the DP215 the third most expensive car to hail from the UK.
Almost as exciting, even if it wasn’t as expensive, was the Holman-Moody Ford GT40 that finished third at Le Mans in 1966, which sold for $9,795,000 including commission. That makes it the second most expensive GT40 ever sold at auction, after the Gulf-liveried Le Mans movie camera car that also sold here in 2012 for $11M. Other highlights of the night were the 2013 Pebble Beach Best in Show-winning 1934 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria by Dietrich at $3,745,000, and a 2014 LaFerrari sold for $3,305,000, with proceeds going to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.
Day two was the climax of the auction week, with almost all the other sales having concluded and all eyes on the Monterey Portola. There were gems like an ultra-rare 1998 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR that sold for $4,515,000 (a record price for the model) and a gorgeous Porsche 550A Spyder that sold for $4.9M, but the word on everybody’s lips on Saturday was “GTO,” and the room was filled a full hour before the Ferrari racer even drove onto the block.
After a brief introduction by five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell, the car was finally up for grabs. There wasn’t a flurry of million-dollar bids and frantic arm waving as some may have hoped for, but the pool of people with deep enough pockets for a $50M race car is a little on the small side, so the handful of methodical bidders makes sense. All-in, the car sold for $48,405,000, about $10M more than the previous all-time record set by a somewhat less-storied GTO four years ago.
Bigger picture: 124 of the 150 lots offered sold successfully for an 83-percent sell-through rate, and overall total for the night amounted to $157.6M, with an average sale price of $1,270,903. This is $24.8M ahead of last year, although 34 more cars were offered this time around. The few big misses of the auction were mostly high-dollar Ferraris, with the most significant being a 1953 250 MM hammering at $7.4M, a 1954 Vignale-bodied 375 America at $3.2M, and a genuine 1960 250 GT SWB Alloy Comp car that was hurt by its lack of original engine and hammered at $8.45M.