Auction results for Monterey Car Week 2019 fall below expectations

RM Sotheby's Porsche Type 64 no sale

The 2019 Monterey auctions wrapped up Saturday evening with total preliminary sales totals coming in at $245.5M. Whether it’s threat of recession, broad economic volatility or too many cars crammed into too few hours, there’s no denying this year’s Monterey Auction Week results were depressed when you compare the results to recent years.

Final results through Saturday

1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta
RM Sotheby's
1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta

Although a few more major sales will likely finalize over the next day or two, the preliminary totals fell short of expectations and lagged behind 2018 results of $370M by $125.4M (-34%). This amount is the lowest tally since 2011’s $197M. Standard measures like average sale price ($319,610 vs. $436,849), median sale price ($24,200 vs. $29,700), and sell-through rate (58 percent vs. 62 percent were all down, as was performance against estimate (the average high bid was 16 percent below the low estimate this year vs. 10 percent last year). With all these statistics signaling a slumping market, the question will be whether this is felt in the broader market or be isolated to this week’s sales.

Struggling headliner cars had the biggest impact on declining overall totals. The sell-through rate for seven- and eight-figure cars in Monterey this year was 42 percent, well below the 56 percent achieved in Monterey last year. Outside of Monterey, seven- and eight-figure cars at auction have had a sell-through rate of 55 percent during the first seven months of 2019. The average price of the cars that did sell in this bracket was $2.9M this year compared to $3.6M in 2018.

The top sale of the week was the LM-spec 1994 McLaren F1 that RM Sotheby’s sold for a hefty $19.805M, followed by a 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB Spider from Gooding & Company at $9.905M, and a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB that RM Sotheby’s earned $8.145M.

Those sales weren’t enough to offset misses for some of the biggest lots, however, including RM Sotheby’s 1939 Porsche Type 64 that fell short at $17M, Mecum’s 1959 Ferrari 250 Monza that went unsold at $20M, and the SWB 1962 Ferrari 250 California Spider that was bid to $9.4M. In those cases and many more, cars at the top end of the market will be returning home with their sellers.

Porsche Type 64 sale
Cameron Neveu

The softness was felt further down the price spectrum, as just 11 percent of vehicles valued between $250,000 and $500,000 were bid to or above their current market values in the Hagerty Price Guide, which is 28 percentage points lower than last year. Two examples in this category include a 2005 Ferrari Superamerica from Gooding & Company that sold for $240,800 and a 1950 Jaguar XK 120 Alloy Roadster at RM Sotheby’s that sold for $207,200 against a Hagerty Price Guide value of $295,000.

While the upper end of the market is largely responsible for lower than predicted sales results, vehicles priced below $75,000 fared better. This was the only price bracket to see more vehicles bid to condition-appropriate amounts compared to 2018. In particular, traditional classics from the 1960s and 1970s in this price bracket sold for above their condition-appropriate values more so than vehicles from other eras. Examples include a restored 1970 Triumph TR6 that Bonhams sold for $28,000 (+112 percent above current market value), Mecum’s 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia coupe that won $20,350 (+80 percent above current market value), and a 1961 Chevrolet Impala convertible that sold well above book value for $66,000 (+63 percent above current market value), also at Mecum. This supports the ongoing trend that the entry level remains the healthiest and most active segment in the broader market outside the auctions.

Motorcycles were another bright spot, with several record prices in this segment. A 1936 Crocker Small Tank sold for $825,000 to become the most expensive Crocker ever sold at auction and the third most expensive motorcycle ever sold at auction. As cars at the top of the market struggled, motorcycles experienced the opposite with the most expensive bikes selling more strongly. Motorcycles priced over $100,000—considered the high end for bikes—had the highest sell-through rate of motorcycles in Monterey 2019 and an average sale price nearly triple that of 2018.

Even during a down sale there are cars that smash the ceiling. This week Gooding & Company sold a 1931 Studebaker Indianapolis race car for $1,105,000, far surpassing its $750,000 high estimate, and RM Sotheby’s sold a 1967 Porsche 911 S with Rally package and just over 8000 miles on the odometer nearly tripled its high estimate at $912,500.

Regardless of whether this is a blip or the beginning of a new market phase, this week’s performance underscores the importance of buying what you love first and bringing financial gains into the equation second. If tides turn and you find yourself underwater, at least you can reap emotional dividends by getting behind the wheel.

Friday’s results

LM-spec McLaren F1
Cameron Neveu

Overall sales totals through Friday were $142.1M. Even though both RM Sotheby’s and Bonhams started early with an extra day on Thursday this year, gross totals are down about 25 percent (or nearly $50M) from the $191M total through Friday in 2018. While there were 16 more cars offered for the first two days in 2019, nearly 30 fewer met reserve, and the average sale price was more than $75,000 less.

The day’s most anticipated car—the 1994 LM-spec McLaren F1 offered by RM Sotheby’s – was indeed the day’s biggest sale and the most expensive F1 ever sold at auction with a $19.805M final price. RM Sotheby’s also sold the 1965 Ford GT40 Prototype Roadster for $7.65M, while Gooding & Company sold a closed-headlight 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB Spider for $9.905M and the 1975 French Grand Prix-winning ex-Niki Lauda Ferrari 312T Formula 1 car for $6M. Bonhams’ star cars and the biggest of its two-day auction were a 1951 Ferrari 340 America out of 50 years of single family ownership which started a vigorous bidding war and sold for $3.635M, and a 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 that sold for $1.38M. Mecum also continued its two-wheeled success this week with a 1912 Indian Twin Board Track Racer that became the most expensive Indian ever sold at auction at $253,000, and sold a 198-mile Mercedes-Benz 560SL for a staggering $121,000.

Although sales are down across the board and the general condition of consignments is down compared to last year, many of today’s top sales show that buyers recognize rare opportunities to acquire unique cars with special provenance, and they are willing to pay for them. And even though this is Monterey, buyers were also willing to step up for cars at the more affordable end of the price spectrum in the $25,000 - $50,000 bracket. Standouts in this category include a 1974 Fiat X1/9 selling for $25,760 at Bonhams and a 1972 Datsun 240Z selling for $34,100 at Russo and Steele.

Thursday’s results

James Bond DB5 on the block
Cameron Neveu

Total sales for Thursday evening were $27.4M compared to $9.2M for the same night in 2018. There are two main reasons for this noticeable increase: Bonhams added an extra day this year on Thursday for a now two-day auction at Quail Lodge and RM Sotheby’s added a third all-Aston Martin sale for Thursday, with more than 30 of the exotic English sports cars on offer. Indeed, two of the three higher-end catalog sales (RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Company and Bonhams) are offering more cars in Monterey. But if we look at the larger picture there are fewer consignments on offer. Mecum, Worldwide, Gooding & Company and Russo and Steele all consigned fewer cars than in 2018.

The first huge Aston of the evening was the 1965 DB5 Shooting Brake by Radford. One of just a dozen built, it sold for $1.765M to become the most expensive shooting brake (British-speak for wagon) ever sold at auction. Three lots later was a different DB5 entirely, and what people have been referring to all week simply as “the Bond car.” Used as a promotional car for Thunderball and fitted with all the appropriate gadgets, the 007-spec 1965 Aston Martin DB5 sold for $6,385,000 to become the most expensive DB5 ever sold at auction. There were other strong sales, but these were the only two home runs of the night at RM Sotheby’s, with the other star Aston—a 1953 DB3S works race car—failing to sell at a $7.5M high bid.

Bonhams consigned nearly 90 more cars than in 2018 and did so with varying degrees of success. Saving most of the more expensive cars for Friday, this extra day emphasized the more affordable end of the market with an average sale price less than one-third of Bonhams’ single day sale last year. Examples that sold very well were a 1971 Datsun 240Z selling for $44,800 and a 1979 Mazda RX-7 GS for $14,560.

Worldwide’s top sale was also the oldest and certainly one of the most interesting cars on offer this week, with the 1898 Riker Stanhope Electric selling for $605,000. Another big result from Worldwide was $242,000 for a 1965 Jaguar E-Type SI 4.2 Roadster. Russo and Steele sold a 1964 Porsche 356C Cabriolet for a strong $115,500 and a 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16v for a surprisingly high $27,500. At Mecum a 1972 AMC Gremlin X brought a strong $22,000. In addition to hundreds of cars, Mecum is also offering a variety of classic motorcycles, with Thursday’s star being a 1914 Harley-Davidson 10E Twin that sold for $77,000.

Listed below are the raw results witnessed by Hagerty during the live auctions and may not factor in any post-sale deals that have occurred. These numbers include the appropriate buyer’s premiums.

Overall through Saturday from all auction companies

Niki Lauda’s 1975 Ferrari 312T
Cameron Neveu

Cumulative Total: $245.5M
768/1,315 lots sold: 58% sell-through rate Average Sale Price: $319,610

2018 Cumulative Results through Saturday
Cumulative Total: $370.9M
849/1,378 lots sold: 62% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $436,849

Overall Top 10 Sales from all auctions through Saturday:

  1. 1994 McLaren F1 “LM-spec” Coupe sold for $19,805,000 (RM Sotheby's)
  2. 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB Spider (closed headlight) sold for $9,905,000 (Gooding & Company)
  3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe sold for $8,145,000 (RM Sotheby's)
  4. 1965 Ford GT40 Prototype Roadster sold for $7,650,000 (RM Sotheby's)
  5. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SI (closed headlight) sold for $6,800,000 (Gooding & Company)
  6. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Saloon “Bond Car” sold for $6,385,000 (RM Sotheby's)
  7. 1975 Ferrari 312T Formula 1 Race Car sold for $6,000,000 (Gooding & Company)
  8. 1960 Porsche 718 RS 60 Werks Race Car sold for $5,120,000 (RM Sotheby's)
  9. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $5,100,000 (Gooding & Company)
  10. 1951 Ferrari 340 America Berlinetta sold for $3,635,000 (Bonhams)

Results broken down by auction company

1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype
RM Sotheby's
1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype

RM SOTHEBY'S
Cumulative Total through Saturday: $104.3M
133/184 lots sold: 72% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $784,107

Overall Top 10 Sales:

  1. 1994 McLaren F1 “LM spec” Coupe sold for $19,805,000
  2. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe sold for $8,145,000
  3. 1965 Ford GT40 Prototype Roadster sold for $7,650,000
  4. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Saloon “Bond Car” sold for $6,385,000
  5. 1960 Porsche 718 RS 60 Werks Race Car sold for $5,120,000
  6. 2006 Ferrari FXX Coupe sold for $3,525,000
  7. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe sold for $2,947,500
  8. 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS Spider sold for $2,205,000
  9. 2014 Pagani Huayra Tempesta Coupe sold for $2,040,000
  10. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Coupe sold for $1,985,000

2018 Cumulative Results through Saturday
Cumulative Total: $157.9M
125/150 lots sold: 83% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $1,263,456

GOODING & COMPANY
Cumulative Total through Saturday: $73.2M
106/139 lots sold: 76% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $690,461

Overall Top 10 Sales:

  1. 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB Spider (closed headlight) sold for $9,905,000
  2. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SI (closed headlight) sold for $6,800,000
  3. 1975 Ferrari 312T Formula 1 Race Car sold for $6,000,000
  4. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $5,100,000
  5. 1939 Alfa Romeo Tipo 256 Coupe sold for $2,755,000
  6. 1913 Isotta Fraschini Tipo IM Roadster sold for $2,645,000
  7. 1930 Duesenberg Model J Murphy sold for $2,040,000
  8. 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS Spider sold for $1,765,000
  9. 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8 Coupe sold for $1,710,000
  10. 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe sold for $1,600,000

2018 Cumulative Results through Saturday
Cumulative Total: $116.5M
122/146 lots sold: 84% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $954,939

BONHAMS
Cumulative Total through Friday: $29.6M
161/220 lots sold: 73% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $184,050

Overall Top 10 Sales:

  1. 1951 Ferrari 340 America Berlinetta sold for $3,635,000
  2. 1953 Fiat 8V Ghia Supersonic Coupe sold for $1,765,000
  3. 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 (CSX3101 - CSX3200) Roadster sold for $1,380,000
  4. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $1,352,500
  5. 2017 Ford GT Coupe sold for $1,050,000
  6. 2017 Ferrari F12tdf Coupe sold for $907,000
  7. 1930 Bentley Speed Six Le Mans Replica Tourer sold for $874,000
  8. 1962 Aston Martin DB4 Vantage Sedan sold for $643,000
  9. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Ellena Coupe sold for $621,000
  10. 1934 Duesenberg Model J Brunn Torpedo Phaeton sold for $478,000

2018 Results through Friday
Cumulative Total: $37.8M
110/135 lots sold: 81% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $343,694

MECUM
Cumulative Total through Saturday: $28.4M
279/589 lots sold: 47% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $101,806

Overall Top 10 Sales:

  1. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Coupe sold for $2,750,000
  2. 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupe sold for $2,640,000
  3. 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach Roadster sold for $1,430,000
  4. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTS Spider sold for $1,100,000
  5. 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster sold for $1,045,000
  6. 1936 Crocker Small Tank Motorcycle sold for $825,000
  7. 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster sold for $742,500
  8. 1937 Crocker Small Tank Motorcycle sold for $715,000
  9. 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupe sold for $715,000
  10. 1997 Indy GF01 Arie Luyendyk Race Car sold for $440,000

2018 Cumulative Results through Saturday
Cumulative Total: $45.9M
364/692 lots sold: 53% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $125,967

RUSSO AND STEELE
Cumulative Total through Saturday: $7.0M
64/146 lots sold: 44% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $109,270

Overall Top 10 Sales:

  1. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $1,210,000
  2. 1965 Shelby Cobra 289 R&P Roadster sold for $962,500
  3. 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster sold for $935,000
  4. 1965 Shelby GT350 Fastback sold for $412,500
  5. 2018 Ferrari 488 GTB Berlinetta sold for $253,000
  6. 1956 Porsche 356 Cabriolet sold for $220,000
  7. 1952 Tojeiro Barchetta Sports Racer sold for $187,000
  8. 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 429 SportsRoof sold for $165,000
  9. 1957 Chevrolet Series 3100 Custom Pickup sold for $159,500
  10. 2007 Porsche 911 GT3 RS Coupe sold for $145,200

2018 Cumulative Results through Saturday
Cumulative Total: $7.3M
95/196 lots sold: 48% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $76,548

WORLDWIDE
Cumulative Total through Thursday: $3.0M
25/37 lots sold: 68% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $118,228

Overall Top 10 Sales:

  1. 1898 Riker Electric Stanhope Runabout sold for $605,000
  2. 1931 Cadillac Series 370A Fleetwood Roadster, 2/4-p. sold for $297,000
  3. 1958 Porsche 356A 1600 Super Speedster sold for $264,000
  4. 1965 Jaguar E-Type SI 4.2 Roadster sold for $242,000
  5. 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona Hardtop Coupe sold for $203,500
  6. 1930 Cadillac Series 452 Fleetwood Imperial Landau Cabriolet, 5/7-p. sold for $176,000
  7. 1966 Jaguar E-Type SI 4.2 Coupe sold for $154,000
  8. 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Convertible sold for $110,000
  9. 1908 Stevens-Duryea Model X Touring sold for $110,000
  10. 1967 Oldsmobile Toronado Mannix Roadster sold for $101,200

2018 Cumulative Results
Total: $5.5M
33/59 lots sold: 56% sell-through rate
Average Sale Price: $167,267