Multi-million dollar auction stunners at Monterey

10th August 2021
Bob Murray

You love cars and have a few million burning a hole in your pocket – what do you spend it on? For people in this position the ultimate shopping trip is to the annual collector-car auctions in Monterey on the central Californian coast over the 12th-14th August.


This year the sales promise to be bigger than ever with the main auction houses looking to make up for a pandemic-hit 2020 with an astonishing collection of gold-standard cars, including many from major collections.

RM Sotheby’s has had to extend its Monterey Auto Week sale to three days just to fit all 159 cars in. Gooding & Co, the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is pushing the boat out to mark the 70th anniversary of this world famous concours. All in all it promises to be quite a party.

We have already previewed the multi-million-dollar offerings from Bonhams and now it’s time to join RM Sotheby’s and Gooding & Co to continue our stroll along Monterey Millionaire’s Row. There is no shortage of star cars – incredibly, between them, these two auction houses alone will be offering around 100 cars with guide prices of over a million dollars.

These then are among the most valuable cars available in a public sale in the world right now. Which one will you be bidding on?


1970 Porsche 917K – $16-18.5m

RM Sotheby’s

Spectacular car, spectacular price, but then this is a Le Mans winner – in Steve McQueen’s version of the 24 Hour race, at least. In reality, while this 917 competed at Le Mans in 1970, driven by David Hobbs and multiple motorcycle World Champion Mike Hailwood, it crashed out in the wet while running in third. Its “victory” was only on celluloid as the race winner in McQueen’s Le Mans film.

It’s still a giant among race cars. It was delivered new to the works John Wyer team and today is exquisitely presented in totemic Gulf race colours after restoration in the UK by Paul Lanzante (who, with the McLaren F1, did win Le Mans!).


1962 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato – $11-14m

RM Sotheby’s

Who doesn’t lust after one of these? It’s Britain’s beautiful and brutal answer to the Ferrari 250 GTO, the definitive road and track Aston Martin from the company’s golden era and both the ultimate DB Aston and greatest masterpiece from Zagato.

There were only ever 19 of them (this is the last-but-one made) and it was ordered as (an even rarer) left-hooker by a US naval commander who personalised it with a unique eggcrate grille, glass (instead of Perspex) in the windows and heavier gauge aluminium body. In this form and fresh from the factory, Roy Salvadori “tested” it at Brands Hatch – and just happened to come home first in class...


1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider – $10-12m

Gooding & Co

They love a Cali Spider in California – the sun-kissed place for which this convertible take on the 250 GT Tour de France was created.

Ferrari made just 106 of them and this example is super-special because it is one of only 10 early long-wheelbase cars prepared by the factory in period to Competizione spec. So far, far more than just a pretty face.


1998 Mercedes AMG CLK GTR – $8.5-10m

Gooding & Co

There are plenty of powerful Mercedes road cars but the ultimate Merc street machine is this car. It’s the Strassenversion of the CLK coupe that was hastily converted by AMG into a GT championship contender for the 1997 season.

As a racer the CLK GTR was a hit – it won six of the series’ 11 rounds and led to the CLK LM that totally dominated in ’98. But with a 6.9-litre V12 endowed with 596PS (444kW) it also made for an awesome road car. Twenty-five street cars had to be built to homologate the racer and this is the ninth of them, with just 1,442km under its wheels.


1962 Ferrari 268 SP – $8-10m

RM Sotheby’s

There’s a secret under this Ferrari’s low and sleek bodywork: a V8 engine. Ferrari made only four such engines – essentially two thirds of its V12 – and installed two of them in the Scuderia’s mid-engine development car of 1962, the 268 SP. The car was put through its paces at Le Mans by team drivers that included Mike Parkes and Olivier Gendebien, but in the ’62 race it retired with clutch problems.

The 268 SP itself might not have been a winner but as a mid-engine test bed it was to prove a big influence on the later P-car series. Today it’s an immense Ferrari rarity, with only two owners since 1969, one of whom was Pierre Bardinon of the fabled Mas du Clos Ferrari collection.


1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione – $8-10m

RM Sotheby’s

Turning the 275 GT Berlinetta into a rip-snorting race machine reached its apogee with the 12 Competizione models that Ferrari built in 1966, what can justifiably be called the last of Maranello’s factory competition grand tourers.

This then is peak 275 GTB, complete with 250LM-type dry sump and extreme weight saving that included aluminium coachwork half as thick as the standard alloy. Paper-thin in other words. In this form it competed at Le Mans three times, winning its class in 1967, while more recently it’s been vigorously campaigned in historic racing, including the

Fordwater Trophy at the 2012 Goodwood Revival.


1966 Ford GT40 Alan Mann Lightweight – $7-9m

Gooding & Co

Nope, it’s not a Le Mans-winning GT40 but one with equally interesting history, and the clue is that red with gold stripe livery: this is one of two GT40s developed in Byfleet, Surrey, by the British Ford works team, Alan Mann Racing.

In contrast to the big-block US cars, the Alan Mann went for a small-block 289 (4.7-litre) V8 and aluminium body to save weight. It almost got to race at Le Mans: used as a test car at La Sarthe in 1966, it clocked enough speed to be the fourth fastest car there. It has never been offered for public sale before.


1955 Jaguar D-type – $5.5-7m

RM Sotheby’s

Of all the mighty D-type’s claims to motorsport fame, who knew it was a successful ice-racer? On studded tyres and in the hands of its first owner, Finnish Davis Cup tennis star Curt Lincoln, the cold-climate D slid through the snow and ice to victory after victory in and around Helsinki. In a D-type first, it even raced in what was then the Soviet Union.

As you might imagine, the car acquired a few scars, and what today would be frowned-upon “modifications”, but work by Chris Keith-Lucas and the team at CKL in East Sussex made everything right again in 2003, something subsequently proven by successful outings in four Mille Miglia Storicas, concours appearances at the Villa d’Este and Pebble Beach and – of course – racing at the Goodwood Revival.

1957 Maserati 200 SI – $4-4.5m

Gooding & Co

The 200 SI was a four-cylinder Maserati sports racer that could beat Ferraris and Porsches, as this one did at US national race meetings in the late 1950s. But its glory days did not last and it was sold as a non-runner for $6,000 in the 1970s.

Since then it has risen from the ashes, Phoenix-like, to be the exquisitely beautiful Fantuzzi-bodied sportscar you see here.


1930 Duesenberg Model J – $3-4m

Gooding & Co

The top-priced American car among all the European automotive royalty in Gooding’s sale is this Duesy Model J – true American car royalty. In “disappearing top” coupe-convertible form as here, the Model J has a reputation as the greatest American classic.

In its day this car was more powerful, faster and better built than any other American automobile, with a price only the wealthiest could afford. Then there was that ahead-of-its-time retractable hard-top roof that coachbuilder Murphy wowed the rich and famous with; just 25 of the 140 Model Js bodied by Murphy had the feature, and only two are thought to still exist.

Gooding & Co’s Pebble Beach sale is on 13th-14th August at the Pebble Beach Parc du Concours, and you can see the full catalogue here. RM Sotheby’s Monterey Car Week sale takes place over three days, from 12th-14th August, at the Monterey Conference Center, and you can see the full catalogue here.

Images courtesy of Gooding and Co and RM Sotheby’s.

  • For Sale

  • Porsche

  • Ferrari

  • 917


  • 275 GTB

  • GT40

  • Ford

  • Aston Martin

  • DB4

  • 250 GT

  • Jaguar

  • D-type

  • Duesenberg

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