7 Breakout Sales from RM Sotheby’s ICONS sale
There was a lot of action at RM Sotheby’s ICONS sale in Manhattan on Wednesday night, as more than 30 extra-special cars changed hands. Not only did the auction catalogue showcase heaps of A-list cars, but many were pristine examples chasing record sales.
Things started quietly but quickly accelerated with heavy bidding from the phones and in the room. Among the $45.5 million in sales, which covered both vintage and modern jewels from just about every era, seven cars rose to the top with massive results that exceeded Hagerty’s #1, concours-quality values. Big sales like these could be major indicators of what cars are hot and potentially poised to shift upward in the market.
1989 Ferrari Testarossa — $246,400
A big boon for this side-straked wedge of Pininfarina brilliance is its obscenely low miles. The clock reads just 585 on the odometer, which means the previous owners had an uncommonly strong will to resist the sultry sounds of this redhead’s 4.9-liter, 380-horsepower flat-12.
This is about as clean and original as a Testarossa can be, with a consistent service record, and yet the $246,400 sale price came in just under the $250,000–$325,000 estimate. Still, #1-condition Testarossas are currently valued at $136,000 in the Hagerty Valuation Tools (HVT), which means this is a rather significant sale. To be sure, the Testarossa looks like nothing else on the road and is one of most iconic 1980s bedroom poster cars.
1960 Volkswagen 23-Window “Samba” Microbus — $207,200
According to Brad Phillips, Hagerty Client Relations Manager for North America, this 23-window VW bus went in expecting to break the model’s all-time sales record. Mission accomplished, as this majestic split-window bus sold near the top end of its $150,000–$225,000 estimate. It also blew past its HVT, #1-condition value of $158,000.
This Type 2 Microbus was originally delivered to Los Angeles, complete with safari windows and the treasured Samba canvas sunroof. Its current condition is the result of a painstaking and thorough restoration, which began with all original parts excepting the engine, which was replaced with a properly-dated 1192-cc, 40-hp four-cylinder. New old-stock parts were used where necessary, and details down to the tool roll are accurate. Considering the way prices for these old VW vans are rising, this historic sale was impressive, but none the less expected. #Vanlife ain’t always cheap.
1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster — $1,407,500
This beautiful, albeit typical (if there is such a thing), ’58 SL bested its $1.3 million HVT figure. Still, few at the auction in Manhattan was blown away by this sale. SL values have leveled off as of late from their mega-highs in the beginning of 2015, and at this point the Roadsters are often selling within just a couple hundred grand of the Gullwings. In fact, in this same auction the roadster outsold a ’55 Gullwing that went for $1,352,500.
That’s not to diminish the beauty or significance of this SL Roadster, which came from the factory with a few custom options for its taller original owner. The seats are a bit lower, the steering column is a bit longer, and there are specific electronic quirks for the wiring and circuits, which RM Sotheby’s says includes additional fog lamps and an extra reverse light.
Restoration work on this car comes from 300 SL guru Rudi Koniczek, whose namesake shop is located in Victoria, British Columbia. There it received a complete overhaul, including Euro-spec headlights, a rebuilt engine and transmission, and more, all using parts from Mercedes-Benz Classic. Now that Rudi is retiring and passing his business on, this is the final 300 SL Roadster restored under his watchful eye.
1965 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible — $2,700,000
Like the SL, few were shocked when this DB5 broke through its pre-sale estimate of $2.45–$2.65 million. These cars are rare, beautiful, and ultimately timeless. From its James Bond days and beyond, the DB5 is a perennial favorite that has not lost its luster. That it sold for more than its HVT #1-condition value of $2.45 million is telling of the continued strength of this cornerstone of the classic-car market.
Only 123 convertibles were built, and this is one of 40 left-hand drive models made and features original engine to boot. It boasts 4.0 liters and 282 horses of inline-six-cylinder, heart-wrenching exuberance and British class, routed through a five-speed manual gearbox. This DB5 is a concours veteran, as well, with a laundry list of deserved accolades and appearances.
1990 Lamborghini LM002 — $467,000
This LM002 sold at the perfect time—right in line with the launch of the all-new Lamborghini Urus. And the fact that more people were talking about the badass original Italian super-SUV than Lambo’s new ugly duckling shows just how special the LM002 really is. It far surpassed its $342,000 HVT #1-condition value, and settled right within the meat of its $400,000–$500,000 estimate.
According to Phillips, there was a lot of buzz about the LM002 at the auction, and overshadowed (both in attention and price) the Countach presented alongside it. After all, what’s not to love about a Countach V-12 with 450 hp wedged into a desert-dominating military prototype? (That prototype, the Cheetah, was built to chase a military contract that eventually went to the iconic Humvee.) It features a five-speed manual, four-wheel-drive transfer case, and three self-locking differentials. The Rambo Lambo, as it came to be known, could hit 60 mph in 7.7 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 130 mph.
Only 60 examples of the LM002 were imported to the U.S., and this one is the recent beneficiary of a five-year restoration that cost more than $325,000. One key element is a new set of correct, bespoke Pirelli Scorpion tires—each individual tire costs several thousand dollars. It’s fully documented with sale and services records, and all original extras are included (books, tools, photos, etc.) And—just in case—two extra OEM ECUs are included in the sale.
The big daddy of the show. Phillips says bids on this auction took off in a hurry, and as the price climbed past $15 million, the room started clapping and cheering the bids coming in. It cruised past its $14M–$17M pre-sale estimate, and crushed the HVT #1-condition value of $11.5M, although our valuation experts note that the car’s extensive racing and concours provenance put it in a class all its own.
It is the second of eight aluminum-bodied California Spiders to be built and, bearing chassis number 1451, it was made in full “competizione” specification. According to RM Sotheby’s, that meant a 262.5-hp Tipo 128F engine with high-lift camshafts, triple carburetors, and a larger racing fuel tank with an external filler.
The historical cachet is there as well—this 250 GT LWB California Spider finished third in its class and fifth overall in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. On top of that, it has raced at the Nassau Speed Week, Marlboro, VIR, and more. It got a full restoration in 1983, where it began an extensive concours career. These gorgeous machines don’t appear to be going out of style anytime soon, even as the market at large has cooled off in the last nine months.
2018 Bugatti Chiron — $3,772,500
“Usually people croon over any 918 Spyder that’s in the room, but with the Chiron there, nobody said a peep about the Porsche,” Phillips said. That about sums up the huge price tag for this brand-spankin’-new Bugatti, which is significant in that it is the first U.S.-market Chiron. Never registered, never titled, never driven past its 250 factory test miles. That means it’s also the first example ever sold at auction, and it fell smack in the middle of its pre-sale estimate of $3.5M–$4M.
The base price for a Chiron is just shy of $3 million, but if you factor in the customization for each model, along with the speculation of the future value of Chiron number one, the final sale price has some context. With that said, the Chiron is guaranteed to give its driver a one-of-a-kind experience, as this 1500-hp monstrosity carries four turbos to go with its hulking 8.0-liter 16-cylinder engine. Bugatti lists the top speed at 261 mph, and with 500 slated for production, any owner can just about guarantee to be the biggest gun on his or her side of the mountain. Not quite pretty, it means business and, we’re guessing, sucks enough fuel to power a mid-size city block.