The 2019 collector car auction scene will be remembered more for its disappointments than for its highlights—Monterey free fall, the Type 64 confusion, plus other stumbles far and wide—but there were still plenty of impressive sales. Here are this year’s top 10 cars, from #10 through #1.
The headliner from RM Sotheby’s November Abu Dhabi auction didn’t disappoint. The car’s tremendous pedigree—three F1 victories by Michael Schumacher during his World Driver’s Championship-winning 2002 season—as well as an excellent presentation tied to the Formula 1 race, all pushed it to a top-10 finish. Right car in the right venue.
Ferrari’s PF Cab is a stunning touring car—rare, refined, and beautiful. This example was desirably equipped with side vents, bumperettes, and covered headlights and had good (royal) ownership history. Even so, it sold slightly below its $7M low estimate. Classic Ferrari prices have been readjusting over the past year, but this car’s appeal should endure.
Paganis are nearly impossible to buy. The wait list is long for a new one, and when they sell to second owners they do so privately. Only seven have been offered at auction in the past three years, and only one of those (this one) was a Zonda. This example was a rare roadster version from the one-off 760 Series that was also equipped with an uprated “760”-spec motor. It flew past its $4.5M low estimate, emphasizing buyers’ willingness to pay a premium when a rare opportunity arises.
One of two 250 GT SWBs on the list, this example has a very well-documented history, carries a Ferrari Classiche Red Book, and is a late-production “Lusso” model. The car landed high within Gooding’s $6M–$8M presale estimate, so it was a strong sale by that measure, but it fell far short of Hagerty Price Guide values, showing that the SWB market has faded substantially the past five years.
This GT40 is well known, having recently been displayed at the 2017 Quail Motorsports Gathering and the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car sold in Monterey for $6.93M in 2014, showing that the blue oval might have racked up anotherFord v Ferrari win when compared to how some of the Maranello models performed relative to their previous recent sale prices.
Ferrari 250 GT SWBs are one of the marque’s most revered models, but prices have suffered this year. Hagerty Price Guide values for the model fell 22 percent in 2019. This beautifully restored and Ferrari Classiche-certified example confirms recent trends, as this sale was a full $1.2M below its $9.3M high bid three years earlier at Gooding & Company’s 2016 Pebble Beach sale.
Bonhams conducted one of the stranger auctions of the year in Switzerland, where 25 cars owned by Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue—vice president and son of Equatorial Guinea’s president—were liquidated. The cars, seized as part of a money laundering investigation, were mostly low-production, low-mile modern hypercars, including this Lamborghini Veneno roadster. One of only seven examples built, it soared past its $5.5M high estimate to become the most expensive Lamborghini ever publicly sold. It will likely be a while before we see another Veneno hit the market.
Enzo-era Ferraris had a bad year, falling 6 percent, according to our Ferrari Index—the largest annual drop for these cars in 10 years. Cal Spiders weren’t immune to the trend but fared slightly better with only a 2-percent slide. This example was a lovely long-wheelbase, steel-bodied model with covered headlights that bested its $8.8M sale price from 2014 with a $9.905M result—high enough to place it third for the year. The sale amount was slightly below what it would have sold for when last offered in 2016 (when it earned a $9.4M high bid), showing the general trend for the model over the last few years, but it will likely seem like a bargain five years from now.
The 8C is Alfa Romeo’s crown jewel, one of the most exclusive and revered models of the company’s long history and a connoisseur’s favorite. These models rarely come to market and command immense prices when they do, so this 8C’s $18.6M sale price was not a surprise and was close to Artcurial’s presale low estimate of $19M. In addition to owning a seriously significant car, the new owner now has a ticket to virtually any event in the world.
The McLaren F1 is one of the highest-regarded cars of any era, known for flawless execution of an uncompromising vision. That reputation made it the most expensive car sold at auction in 2019 at just under $20M, and that price tag also made it the 14th-most expensive car ever publicly sold, as well as the most expensive post-1960s car ever. This example was one of two street cars converted to LM spec by the factory, making it a rarer version of an already rare model. For 2019, the Big Mac reigns supreme.