The auction houses have packed up and left Monterey, the buyers have headed home with their new purchases and sellers will be waiting for the cheques to drop onto their doormats. The biggest week of the classic car year is over – but where does it leave us?
If you are interested at all in this kind of stuff you have probably already been bombarded with a plethora of auction house press releases announcing all the world records that were broken and detailed reports containing the obligatory Top Ten lists of cars sold (by value) – all reported in dollars just to make things that bit trickier to decipher. If any of these have managed to help you form a judgement on what went on as a whole then congratulations. I’ve always been a believer in comparing apples with apples and you just can’t do that with auctions so it is difficult to make overall comparisons by just looking at the numbers, but here they are anyway – kindly provided by Hagerty International.
Overall from all auction companies
Cumulative Total: $390.6M*
803/1,386 lots sold: 58%
Average Sale Price: $479,557
Median Sale Price: $96,800
2014 Cumulative Results
Cumulative Total: $428.1M
765/1,264 lots sold: 61%
Average Sale Price: $559,564
Median Sale Price: $99,000
Overall Top 10 Sales from all auctions:
1964 Ferrari 250 LM Coupe sold for $17,600,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spider (closed headlight) sold for $16,830,000 (Gooding & Co.)
1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe sold for $16,500,000 (Gooding & Co.)
1998 McLaren F1 LM Coupe sold for $13,750,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight Roadster sold for $13,200,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1956 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $13,200,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1982 Porsche 956 Coupe sold for $10,120,000 (Gooding & Co.)
1959 Ferrari 250 GT Interim Coupe sold for $8,525,000 (Bonhams)
1959 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Spider (open headlight) sold for $8,500,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1950 Ferrari 275 S/340 America Barchetta sold for $7,975,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
What does this tell us? That a slightly lower value of cars was sold this year in total than last year (which was a record-breaker) but factor in the extra $38 million Bonhams raised for the Ferrari 250 GTO last year and the totals are spookily similar. The average sale price is down, but we are really comparing Granny Smiths with Satsumas so the comparison doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The top ten cars sold doesn’t really help but it makes for a fun statistic – perhaps the top ten cars not sold would be more useful?
The other factor that the eagle-eyed observer might reference is sale price compared to the pre-sale estimate. Estimates for Monterey 2015 were in the main slightly higher that at the last big round of US sales in Arizona in January, and Monterey saw a significant number of cars sold below estimate. However the number of cars sold in the lower half of the estimate or below for the big three international auction houses (Bonhams, RM Sothebys and Gooding & Company) were virtually identical which is even more remarkable when you consider the increasing pressure that over-ambitious sellers must be putting on auction houses to win their business. What we have observed at Classic & Sports Finance is a tapering of values achieved at auction over the last 12 months – from a broad spread of sold prices (from high to low) for individual models – to much more focused values. This is in part due to fewer examples of the many models (Aston Martin DB5 is a good example) coming to auction and also increased availability of many cars outside the auction market, which after all only represents around 10% of total global collector car market.
In summary – $390 million of cars were sold in just 5 days at one location and auction house performance was in line with previous sales of this type. In short, a lot of cars sold for a lot of money. Modern hypercars continue to perform well and the best and most individual collector cars are worth more than the bread-and-butter classics people have scrambled to buy over the last 24 months – just as they always have and will. Two cars that illustrate this beautifully are the Ferrari Enzo given to the Pope that sold for just under £4 million and Steve McQueen’s 911 Turbo that sold for £1.3 million – both miles over normal market value. The market is losing some of it’s forward momentum but it has been for a while and clearly has the stopping power of a supertanker. The only missing piece of the jigsaw for me is where on earth are all these buyers coming from? Where to now? I’d say it’s business as usual.
Photography courtesy RM Sothebys and Bonhams
Edward Legge is Director of Commercial Development at Classic & Sports Finance