RM breaks records on Friday in Monterey, but some cars reflect cooling trend

Let’s get one thing straight up front—last night in Monterey, the sky didn’t fall, the sun didn’t set in the east, blood didn’t flow in the streets and nobody took a dive from the 15th floor of the Marriott onto Del Monte Avenue. Fresh-to-market examples of opportunities the market deems unrepeatable will do just fine, even in the cooling market of mid-2016.

Most of the major lots sold at RM on Friday, and sold quite well. A record was set for the most valuable British car ever sold at auction—$21.78M for XKD501, the Ecurie Ecosse-entered Jaguar D-Type that won The 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1956. To put this into a bit of perspective, the previous British car record-holder was a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato (also sold by RM) for $14.3M this past December in New York.

And if you accept the 289 Shelby Cobra as “American” rather than “Anglo-American” then “the special relationship” is intact with an American car also setting a record for the priciest car of its country of origin. CSX2000, the first Cobra, made an impressive $13.75M.

While RM’s overall numbers are down from 2015, most of that is simply attributable to the fact that RM didn’t auction cars on Thursday as they did last year with the Pinnacle Collection, and they have fewer cars due to the limitations of the venue (The Portola Hotel and Spa decided to renovate its ballrooms this year).
This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s still 2013 or 2014. Sellers who are expecting to get aspirational bids, or “the six months from now” price for cars that the market doesn’t believe to be all that special are going to be disappointed. That was clear from the get-go when Lot #103, a 1988 Ferrari 328 GTS with 13,000 miles on it in the desirable colors of Rosso Corsa and tan sold for “just” $99,000. Last year, it might have been a $120,000 car. Keep in mind though, that just as recently as early 2014, this car might have struggled to make $75,000.

In the past, Italian cars could be counted on to command good prices. But serial production Enzo-era Ferraris continued a cooling trend. A 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona, with paint by the legendary Junior’s House of Color, sold about $60,000 below its low estimate for $742,500 and a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS was cut loose for $1,732,500, well below its low estimate of $2 million.

British cars, on the other hand, did quite well. Led by the aforementioned D-Type, a nicely restored 1965 4.2-liter E-Type roadster surpassed a low estimate of a quarter-million at $253,000. This would have been flat-floor E-Type money not that long ago, proving that even in the midst of a generational shift in car collecting, the allure of the E-Type remains eternal.

Preliminary numbers indicate that the sell-through rate dipped about 5%, yet the median sale price is still within 10% of last year’s number, indicating that in some cases, the difference between a sale and a no-sale might have been rather thin.

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