4 bargain buys from the 2019 Monterey auctions


Home to the premier high-end car auctions, you wouldn’t expect Monterey to be the best place to find a good deal. Nevertheless, a few people made off like bandits. With $253 million in sales (a 34-percent drop from last year), this year marked the lowest point for total sales at Monterey since 2011. Among the 59 percent of available cars that sold this year, one of the worst performing segments were cars that were expected to sell in the $100K–$500K range. These cars demonstrated a sell-through rate of only 57 percent, and more than 67 percent of them sold below our price guide values. Overall, 64 percent of all cars we inspected sold below price guide values—this number was 54 percent last year.)

The upshot here is that there was a lot of opportunity to get a collector car at rock-bottom prices. Here were four of the best gets.

1962 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 ‘Flat Floor’ Roadster

1962 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 ‘Flat Floor’ Roadster

Sold at Mecum for $137,500 

Hagerty Price Guide: $110,000–$365,000

You’ve probably heard it before, but here it is again: the Jaguar E-Type is one of the most beautiful cars ever built. This one, in particular, is one of the most desirable E-Types you can find. A black-over-red Series 1 Roadster should represent everything required to get a high sale price: one of the first 2086 left-hand-drive ‘Flat Floor’ E-Types, same owner since 1985, recent rotisserie restoration, and numbers matching.

We condition-rated this car at a #2- (just slightly less than Excellent), which puts the value at about $240,000. Still, something didn’t click on the block, and this E-Type sold for 43-percent below our stated value. Maybe it got lost in the shuffle with 28 other E-Types up for auction that weekend, four of them ‘Flat Floor’ Roadsters. Overall, though, Jaguar E-Types didn’t have a terrible weekend with an above average sell-through rate of 73 percent, but over half of the E-Types sold for under Hagerty Price Guide values. This one was a steal.

1986 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato

1986 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato
Gooding & Co.

Sold at Gooding & Co. for $173,600

Hagerty Price Guide: $277,000–$663,000

It wasn’t a great weekend for the Aston Martin V8. Of the 12 cars offered, only the no-reserve lots sold. The average sale price of an Aston Martin V8 was 45-percent below the low estimates set by the auction house. In fact, Gooding auctioned five Aston V8s in a row on Thursday, lots 2125, all without reserve. All five of these British muscle cars sold for an average of 31.3-percent below our stated values and well below the low estimates set by the auction house.

The best deal of the bunch was the last one to be offered at Gooding and one of the most expensive: a Gladiator Red 1986 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato. One of only 52 coupes built, this V8 Vantage Zagato was just one of three cars presented by Aston Martin at the 1986 Geneva Motor Show and was eventually bought by comedy actor Rowan Atkinson in 1998, who commissioned Aston Martin Works Service to convert the car to racing spec. The car was eventually converted back for road use when it changed hands in 2008.

We condition-rated this car as a 3+ (or very Good), which would give it a value of about $426,000. So why did it sell for 59-percent below value? It’s an extremely rare car from a famous manufacturer, with famous coachwork, and it was owned by Mr. Bean. What’s not to like?

Maybe, having five similar cars go up for sale one after another on the least-attended day of the weekend translated to a lower price. Or maybe the potential buyer pool was much smaller because the vehicle could not be sold to a California resident (likely because of emissions regulations). Either way the new owner scored a screaming deal it at this price.

1978 Triumph Rob North Trident

1978 Triumph Rob North Trident

Sold at Mecum for $6600

Hagerty Price Guide:  $4000–$10,000 (for standard 1973 Triumph Trident)

Monterey could be one of the best places to buy a bike at auction. The weekend offers a higher percentage of motorcycle lots compared to other big auctions, and most of the audience isn’t interested. This creates the perfect setting to get a great bike for cheap.

Estimated to sell for $23,000$30,000, this custom race bike—built in 1978 on a Rob North frame and featuring a 1974 (or earlier) Triumph Trident three-cylinder engine—got away for just $6600.

James Hewitt, Hagerty information analyst and our resident motorcycle expert, noted that this bike is serious business. “Even at $20,000 this bike is a good deal,” he says. “Rob North Triumphs are very rare, and ones that come up for sale are often in the $20K$30K range.” 

Even with the awesome retro paint job, this bike sold for 71-percent below the low estimate. As the 30th of 212 lots on Thursday, the potential buyer pool would have been low, which could explain the unexpectedly poor sales performance.

1977 Ferrari 308 GTB

1977 Ferrari 308 GTB

Sold at Bonhams for $50,400

Hagerty Price Guide: $51,000–$131,000

Being one of the least-expensive Ferraris sold over the weekend, you might expect this car to have a questionable history or some other red flags. But this Ferrari had just one owner for the first 31 years of its life and only 15,600 original miles. Having just received a mechanical refurbishment, we gave this car a condition value of 2- (slightly less than Excellent), which corresponds to a Hagerty Price Guide value around $95,000.

So why did this car sell for 47-percent less than expected? Perhaps it was due to how long it sat untouched. After a valve issue in 1992, the owner put the car into dry storage and let it sit for 26 years. Also, Ferraris tend to sell better when painted in the classic Rosso Corsa, even though the 308 looks great in Argento Auteuil (silver). Still, $50K is not bad for a Ferrari with a gated shifter (Hawaiian shirt and mustache not included).

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