The most expensive cars have been sold in Pebble Beach, even at disappointing auctions

A 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB coupe was auctioned at Monterey Car Week 2023.

Photo credit: Gooding & Company

A $30 million Ferrari led the parade of trophy cars sold during Monterey Car Week last week, even as the classic car market showed further signs of slowing.

Total sales for the more than 1,200 cars sold at five Monterey and Pebble Beach auctions reached $397 million, the second highest total of any auction, according to Hagerty, the classic car insurance company.

Still, revenue represented a 16% decline from last year's record $473 million. The results, combined with a series of high-profile disappointments at auction, suggest that inflation, higher interest rates and volatile financial market prices are holding back the classic car market.

“The refrigerated market that we've been monitoring for the past 15 months finally made it to the Monterey auctions after having little impact last year,” Hagerty said in a report. The company cited “increased discipline at the top end of the market, weaker demand from new collectors and higher prices that have gotten buyers at the top end of the market thinking.”

Classic cars are among the worst-performing collectibles of 2023, according to a new report from Knight Frank. According to Knight Frank, values ​​are down 7% so far this year, while art values ​​are up 12%. The value of jewelry and watches has also increased.

The rise of online auction sites is increasing the pressure on live classic car auctions, becoming popular alternatives to sales events like Monterey. According to the company, sales on the online auction forum Bring a Trailer reached $841 million in the first half of 2023. According to Hagerty, online auctions for collector cars brought in a total of about $1.9 billion last year, just under $2.4 billion from live auctions.

The main sign of weakness at Monterey Car Week was the “sell-through rate,” which is the percentage of cars that sold at the reserve price or bid. The sell-through rate fell to 68% this year from 78% last year, meaning nearly a third of the cars auctioned failed to sell at reserve.

The most notorious flop at the auction house was a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM sold by RM Sotheby's. The car was expected to sell for $18-20 million. However, the highest bid only reached $17 million, below the reserve price.

A 1960 Ferrari California Spyder also failed to sell at auction, with the highest bid reaching $8.25 million. RM Sotheby's said the car was later sold in a private sale after the auction. The auction house did not provide any information about the price.

Even the most expensive car fell short of its expected range. Bonhams sold a 1967 Ferrari 412P for $30.25 million, making it the fourth most expensive Ferrari ever sold. Still, the “whisper figure,” or expected retail price, was over $40 million and there were few bids for the car.

“The top of the market has proven resilient until recently, as evidenced by the decline in prices for Ferrari prototype race cars from the 1960s,” Hagerty said.

Some experts say Monterey and the entire classic car market could suffer from too much supply. Older collectors, particularly those from the baby boomer generation, are beginning to sell entire collections as they get older, and it's unclear whether the new wave of younger collectors have the same appetite for similar classics, or whether they are looking for more modern cars from the 1990s and 2000s. years prefer .

“As expected, there were just too many cars, auctions and venues,” according to K500, the classic car information company.

Here are the three most expensive cars sold and what they went for.

1. 1967 Ferrari 412P Berlinetta

A 1967 Ferrari 412P Berlinetta was auctioned at Monterey Car Week 2023.

Photo credit: Bonhams

Sold by Bonhams for $30.25 million

The 412P was the road or “customer” version of Ferrari's famous 330 P3 and P4 racing cars. Only two 412P Berlinettas were originally built, and Ferrari converted two more 330 P3s into 412Ps. The car sold was the second of the original 412P models off the factory line and competed at the highest level.

2. 1957 Jaguar XKSS Roadster

A 1957 Jaguar XKSS Roadster was auctioned at Monterey Car Week 2023.

Photo credit: RM Sotheby's

Sold by RM Sotheby's for US$13.2 million

The XKSS was essentially a converted racing car after Jaguar retired from racing after the 1956 season. The company decided to convert its D-Type race cars into customer street vehicles, adding a passenger door and weather protection. Jaguar only made 25 of these. Nine were destroyed in a factory fire leaving only 16 remaining, making it one of the ultimate trophies in the classic car world.

3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB coupe

A 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB coupe was auctioned at Monterey Car Week 2023.

Photo credit: Gooding & Company

Sold by Gooding & Company for $9.5 million

The 250 GT SWB Berlinetta won victories at Le Mans and Sebring, as well as numerous other races across Europe. Between 1960 and 1963, Ferrari made just 165 SWB Berlinettas. According to Gooding, this car was in “remarkably original condition” as it had never been restored. It is extremely rare to find Ferraris in such good condition without major restorations, which increases their value.

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