Million-Dollar Ferraris, Lambos to Defy Bear Market at Pebble Beach

Million-Dollar Ferraris, Lambos to Defy Bear Market at Pebble Beach


Let the good times roll. Here’s a peek at the most exciting vintage autos that will go on sale in Monterey later this month.

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(Bloomberg) — From the look of the cars for sale at the annual auctions Aug. 18-20 in Monterey, Calif., you’d never guess the world is in turmoil.

A 1955 Ferrari 410 is expected to sell for as much as $30 million; a 1973 Porsche Carrera RS is valued at up to $2.25 million. Pre-war hulks the sizes of current-day luxury SUVs are listed at seven- and eight-figure pricing estimates. They represent a fraction of the blue-chip vehicles primed to potentially inject the collecting market with enough cash to hit superlative highs.

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Every August, the major auction houses, including RM Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co., and Bonhams, put together posh presentations and auction off millions of dollars worth of the world’s most beautiful and rarest vehicles. That’s in tandem with a concours competition in which the cream of the world’s vehicular crop are rolled at dawn onto the lawn of the Pebble Beach Golf Links and admired by hundreds of ticket holders dressed in Sunday best for the occasion. 

This year the major auction houses planning sales in the coastal enclave have consigned more cars than ever estimated to be worth more than $1 million. At RM Sotheby’s, 59 lots out of 195 are valued above $1 million, up from 42 such vehicles last year. At Gooding & Co., 50 out of the 160 vehicles have high estimates of at least $1 million, up from 38 last year. At Bonhams, 15 out of 140 lots are valued above $1 million, up from 9 last year. Newcomer Broad Arrow Auctions lists 19 vehicles valued at more than $1 million. 

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“There’s a lot of inventory on offer, and if it’s all absorbed at these estimates, the market will steamroll for the foreseeable future,” says Steve Serio, a Boston-based dealer and broker of rare European automobiles. “To qualify this weekend as important is an incredible understatement.” 

Inflation and the bear market are no match for the appetites of car enthusiasts intent on purchasing vintage hunks of metal on four wheels—at least, that’s what those selling the cars say they expect.

“We are very excited about what we have to offer in Monterey,” David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding & Co., said during an auction preview on July 31. “We can’t wait to be there.”

Neither can I. Here are 15 of my million-dollar favorites to drool over until the auctions begin.

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1990 Ferrari F40

$2,750,000 – $3,250,000Lot 20, Gooding & Co.

Arguably the most famous Ferrari model ever made, the F40 was the last road-going vehicle designed by the brand while its eponymous founder was still alive. This one is the 77th of just 213 ever made to US specifications; with just 1,832 miles on its V8 engine, it retains all of the hallmark characteristics of a well-kept F40, such as factory-original ID and data plates and correct US country-code markings on the suspension arms. Pricing on F40s can vary widely, so it will be interesting to see how well this good example does. Last year an F40 sold for more than $2.8 million at the Gooding auction in Pebble Beach. But this week, a 1992 F40 is up on Bring a Trailer with a current bid of $1.8 million and two days to go; a previous example was bid to $1.9 million but didn’t sell because it didn’t make its reserve.

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1950 Ferrari 166 M Berlinetta Le Mans

$5,500,000 – $6,500,000Lot 38, Gooding & Co.

Ferraris from this era have long been used as indicators regarding the market’s general health. This Berlinetta is no different. The Ferrari competition car is the last of just five built on the 166 MM Chassis, with a sculpted aluminum body and distinguished rally history. Even more notable, it has Ferrari Classiche certification confirming that it retains its original chassis, body, engine, gearbox and rear end—rare for Italian sports cars of this vintage, especially competition Ferraris, according to the auction catalog.

1973 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight

$1.7 – $2.25 millionLot 40, Gooding & Co.

A seemingly outrageous sum for what looks like a standard 911 reflects its rarity and immaculate restoration. Porsche conceived the RS model line as a modified version of the conventional 2.4-liter 911 S. It increased displacement to 2.7 liters, cut the weight, stiffened suspension, and fitted aerodynamic aids to create what the brand hoped would be the ultimate sports car. All told, 1,580 examples of the RS 2.7 were built—and just 200 came with the race-oriented “M471 Sport” or Lightweight specification this one carries.

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1930 Bentley Blower

$7 million – $9 millionLot 42, Gooding & Co.

Blower Bentleys are famous, rare, and valued for their barreling energy and timeless open-top design. They were the fastest cars of their day, hitting speeds of more than 100 mph. This one—one of only 50 Blowers made during two years in production—retains its original chassis, body, engine, gearbox and rear end, according to factory records. It has won prestigious show awards in the modern era, including first in class in 2019 at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

1964 Mercedes 230 SL Coupe

1964 Mercedes 230 SL CoupeIn excess of $1 millionLot 178, Gooding & Co.

There’s only one Mercedes-Benz 230 SL in the world worth anywhere near $1 million, and this is it. The sole SL designed and outfitted with coachwork by Pininfarina, the car has not previously been offered for public sale. Mercedes-Benz debuted the W113 aka 230 SL series in March 1963 to replace the 190 SL, and the widely known, so-called “Pagoda” was so popular that Mercedes made nearly 50,000 of them before ending production in 1971. Every 230 SL Pagoda received identical bodywork but this one, which has a lengthened nose, European headlamps, angular rear fenders and deck lid, and a sculpted bumper. The story goes that Pininfarina approached Mercedes and requested a W113 to play with, so to speak; the coachbuilder chose 29-year-old American designer Tom Tjaarda to complete the build. His most iconic addition was the “greenhouse” cabin, with very thin, heavily angled A and C pillars that blurred the line between German and Italian aesthetics.  

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1958 Maserati 450S by Fantuzzi

$9 million – $11 millionLot 248, RM Sotheby’s The ninth of only 10 examples ever built, this Maserati competition race car won multiple regional races and retains its numbers-matching V8 engine. Restored in the 1990s, it retains many of its original components, including engine heads, steering box, radiator, exhaust manifold, and front and rear suspension. It comes from the collection of Oscar Davis, a well-regarded collector who hired the well-known Maserati historian Adolfo Orsi (grandson of the brand’s onetime owner, also named Adolfo) to conduct a full inspection and historical analysis, including the sourcing of factory build sheets.

1937 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster

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$9 – $12 millionLot 108, RM Sotheby’s

One of a handful of prewar cars from Mercedes for sale by RM Sotheby’s, this 540K Special Roadster is as good as any to help indicate just how vibrant the market for prewar vehicles is today. It unmistakably exemplifies the body style and priorities of automaking at that time: a long tail, flamboyant fenders, radiator set back in the vehicle, and high, curved doors. One of only three surviving long-tail-style Special Roadsters with a covered spare tire, it has fewer than 13,000 miles on the engine. First purchased by Mohammed Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan and one of only five owners ever, the 540K has rarely ever been seen in public. It remains largely unrestored, in excellent condition, making it one of the ultimate Mercedes classics. This is the first time the vehicle has been made available to buyers at public auction.

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1926 Daimler 45hp Salon Cabriolet ‘Star of India’

$1 million – $1.5 millionLot 125, RM Sotheby’s

This incredible one-off vehicle was built specifically for Major-General His Highness Samrajya Maharajadhiraja Bandresh Shri Maharaja Sir Gulab Singh Ju Deo Bahadur, the Maharaja of Rewa in India. It is outfitted in coachwork of pure German silver and was used by the maharaja as a hunting vehicle. It includes such fascinating unique elements as the convertible top and separate sets of windows running parallel to one another in the car. One set was clear glass; the second was of smoked Triplex, or so-called “purdah” glass, for when the Maharaja’s two wives were riding and needed to be hidden from viewing by commoners. Elsewhere, rattan seats on the running boards were to carry attendants and gunbearers, while the front fenders carried electric “boa constrictor” horns and two pairs of headlights. Nicknamed “Star of India,” this is widely considered one of the few remaining examples of British custom coachwork from the period.

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1979 Ferrari 512 BB/LM

$2.8 million – $3.2 millionLot 223, RM Sotheby’s

This doesn’t look like the typical multimillion-dollar racing Ferrari that sets the blue-chip standard, which may be why it seems so compelling. The 13th of just 29 built, this 512 has the group’s most successful vintage racing career, according to the auction catalog, including the model line’s best-ever finish at the Daytona 24 Hour race in 1985 and successful race finishes at Sebring, Lime Rock, and Watkins Glen. It has been owned by only four people and comes with a numbers-matching engine—and a rebuilt spare racing engine, just like the new spare that was originally delivered with the car. An extra racing nose to fit on the front of the vehicle and spare BBS racing wheels are included in the lot.

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1955 Mercedes 300 SL Alloy Gullwing

$5 million – $7 millionLot 311, RM Sotheby’s

There are many beloved Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing cars, but few have aluminum bodies, which is why the price surpasses the $2 million to $3 million normally required to own one. This car was the 21st made, of 29 in total; known as a Holy Grail gullwing, it’s considered the Mercedes-Benz equivalent of Ferrari’s famous (and famously expensive) 250 GTO race cars. This one has logged just 1,620 miles. Although some parts have been replaced, it comes with a numbers-matching chassis, engine, gearbox, steering box, and front and rear axles. It brings all of the factory upgrades available at the time, including a Sonderteile engine, sports suspension, Rudge knock-off wheels, special-order upholstery, and a two-piece luggage set in red leather matching the car’s seats.

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1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider

$25 million – $30 millionLot 355, RM Sotheby’s

This may well be the most expensive car to sell during the Monterey auctions. One of just two of the Ferrari 410s raced by the brand, it was piloted by Juan Manuel Fangio, the Argentine superstar considered by some to be the most talented race car driver ever. In the 1950s, auto tuner Carroll Shelby raced it, as did Phil Hill. All told, the car won more than 11 races 1956-58 and remains highly original, with coachwork designed and built by Sergio Scaglietti. The inside of the gas tank bears a scribble, reportedly from Shelby: “Mr. Ferrari told me that this was the best Ferrari he ever built.”

1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia

$1.7 million – $2 millionLot 335, RM Sotheby’s

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Those in the know (and those who speak Italian) call this Fiat “Otto Vu” rather than Fiat “eight-vee.” One of just 14, this little gem has to be among the most exquisite—and most expensive—Fiats available today. Unlike most of the economy cars Fiat is known for, this one has style. Restored in 2021, including reinstallation of the original engine, it has a Jet Age look characterized by a long front nose, steep windshield, small tail fins, large rounded gauges in the dashboard, and contrast piping in the seats.

1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C Tulipwood Torpedo

$8 million – $12 millionLot 141, RM Sotheby’s

The auction catalog calls this the world’s most famous Hispano-Suiza, and this may be correct. The obscure brand has suffered fits and starts in modern times, but its original vehicles were stunning. This unique coach was commissioned by Andre Dubonnet, the aperitif heir and gentleman racer who oversaw the use of 1/8 inch-thick strips of mahogany (not, as the name indicates, tulip) wood, ¾ inch ribs, aluminum rivets, and varnish to create a singular look. According to the catalog, which describes an esteemed lineage of owners including scions from Coty fragrances and Standard Oil, the body remains largely in preservation condition and retains its original woodwork.

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1969 Lamborghini Miura

$1.7 million – $2.25 millionLot 89, Bonhams

This Miura, despite its high price, can be considered good value compared to the highest-selling Miura, which took $4.2 million at a Gooding & Co. auction in the UK in 2020. Most Miuras in good condition fall into the $1.5 million range, notes Hagerty’s valuation guide; this one excels, thanks to exemplary preservation, California single-ownership, factory-matching numbers engine, Bertone bodywork, and detailed restoration by a marque specialist. One of just 338 S models, this P400 S comes in the desirable Verde Miura lime green, with just over 22,000 miles on its all-alloy V12 engine.

1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight

Pricing TBDLot 60, Bonhams

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Jaguar made thousands of E-Types, but only a few were of the “lightweight” variety used for racing. Just 12 examples of the E-Type Lightweight were ever built; production never reached the original target of 18 cars. Even rarer, this car retains its factory-issued aluminum coachwork and matching-numbers alloy engine. It raced at the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans, among other races, and is largely original, with extensive documentation through multiple owners. It has been shown at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revivals, among other concourses. According to Hagerty, the highest-selling one from the 1961-67 series took $8.8 million, an astounding sum considering that many pristine E-Types can be had for $100,000 or less.

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Published for: Ipodifier