Auction Recap: RM Sotheby’s Motor City 2016

When is making $6.4 million not a great outcome? When it’s about a million dollars less than last time.

RM Sotheby’s finished their annual Motor City sale, held in conjunction with the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in Plymouth, Mich. well down from the $7.4 million achieved last year. The decrease, however, is largely due to 10 fewer cars being offered. The $120,000 average price and the 79 percent sell-through rate were nearly identical to 2015.

By far the weekend’s most touted car, the 1929 Duesenberg Model J ‘Disappearing Top’ Convertible Coupe, sold for $1,540,000. One of 25 Model Js fitted with that coachwork, it had fresh cosmetics, a fully documented history and hammered right in the middle of RM’s presale estimate range. Other higher-end cars included not one but two Packard Twelve Coupe Roadsters in the mid-$300,000 range and a gorgeous Cord L-29 Cabriolet for $187,000. The biggest no-sales, meanwhile, were a 1973 Ferrari Daytona that hammered at $600,000, just below the low estimate, and a Ford GT Heritage Edition that stalled at $345,000.

The St. John’s sale has long been predominantly composed of prewar American automobiles with a handful of ’50s cars thrown in. While the usual coachbuilt, prewar fare headlined this year’s event, there were noticeably more European and more modern cars at St. John’s. In fact, 25 of the 67 cars offered this year were European, and nine of them were built after 1980. Of these, one of the more unusual was a 1990 Renault Alpine V6 Turbo for $15,000. That’s Porsche performance and a lot of exclusivity for used daily driver money, although there’s no telling where you’d get parts. A ’66 Volkswagen 21-window Transporter  also sold for $93,500 and a 1973 Citroën SM sold for $36,000.

Overall top 10:

1. 1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe sold for $1,540,000
2. 2006 Saleen S7 sold for $632,500
3. 1933 Packard Twelve Coupe Roadster sold for $365,000
4. 1938 Packard Twelve Coupe Roadster sold for $330,000
5. 1934 Pierce-Arrow Eight Silver Arrow sold for $242,000
6. 1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet sold for $187,000
7. 1955 Jaguar XK140 MC Drophead Coupe sold for $187,000
8. 1960 Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Cabriolet sold for $165,000
9. 1965 Jaguar E-Type SI 4.2 Roadster sold for $159,500
10. 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL sold for $154,000

The next RM Sotheby’s collector car auction will be in Monterey on August 19-20. The number of noteworthy cars available there is overwhelming, but among them are a 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Jaguar D-Type, the very first Shelby Cobra and a genuine 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900.

Read next Up next: Chris Amon, July 20 1943 – August 3, 2016

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