Pebble Beach is "Shark Week" for the classic car crowd. While it may not be good to be a seal during Shark Week, it's great to be an auction house, a mobile detailer, caterer, tent rental firm or a parking garage owner on the Monterey peninsula during Pebble Beach Week in mid-August.
This year brings a simply unprecedented group of hyper-expensive cars to the six auctions (RM, Gooding and Company, Russo and Steele, Mecum and Bonhams). Where last year shocked the classic car world with a total of $265 million in sales, nothing will shock this year from a market that exhibits the strength of not just Popeye's forearms but Bluto's as well, complete with animated locomotives, anvils and battleships.
Totals of $350 to $400 million have been thrown about. How will the auction companies get there? Well, not with 7,000 fifty-grand cars. No, it will be done off the backs of the seven figure cars, and we estimate that up to 100 cars could sell for that amount or more. As many as ten cars could break $5 million. Here are our picks to be the top sellers of the week along with their pre-sale estimates when available:
1. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spider (above)
Pre-Sale Estimate: $14-17 million
We might as well call a spade a spade here – this is the sexiest sports car on the planet. Period. Specially commissioned by East Coast Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti, 25 were planned but only ten were completed. The last one sold in 2005 for just under $4 million, this one is expected to bring between $14 and $17 million, indicative of how far the market has come. If it breaks $16.4 million, it will rank as the second most expensive car ever sold at auction, behind the Mercedes-Benz W196 Grand Prix car that sold in London last month for $30 million. The consolation prize? Russo and Steele has a near identical car that may sell in the $3 million to $4 million range. The difference? The latter started out as a 275 GTB coupe that was converted to an open car. This car was also recently featured in an excellent mini-documentary for the web that tells its back story. (RM Auctions)
Rob Sass is the Publisher of Hagerty Classic Cars magazine. He is a regular contributor to the automotive section of the New York Times and is the author of "Ran When Parked, Advice and Adventures from the Affordable Underbelly of Car Collecting."
Related Gallery1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti
2. 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta
Pre-Sale Estimate: $9-11 million
The Ferrari market is on fire at the moment, and indeed is often the bellwether for the entire collector car market. The Tour de France was built when Ferrari was mainly a purveyor of "dual-purpose" cars – cars that were equally at home on the road or the track – and the TdF is perhaps the greatest of them all. Nearly all of them competed in significant events driven by famous (most long dead) drivers with unpronounceable names. Gooding and Company has built an enviable reputation on bringing significant Ferraris from the 1950s to market, and this is one of the best. Pre-sale estimate is $9 million to $11 million. (Gooding and Company, Photos by Mathieu Heurtault)
3. 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Spider
Pre-Sale Estimate: $10+ million
Precursor to the famous pontoon-fendered Testa Rossa of the late 1950s, this gorgeous and exceedingly rare Ferrari racer from the early 1950s has something extraordinarily uncommon for a vintage racecar – airtight documentation and a chain of ownership that proves that the car's history is both transparent and impressive. It's eligible for any prestigious event on planet earth including the one from which its name is derived, the Mille Miglia Storica in Italy. The auction company declined to publish a pre-sale estimate, but the car certainly has the ability to break the $10 million barrier. (RM Auctions, Photos by Darin Schnabel)
4. 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster
Pre-Sale Estimate: $10+ million
This car has everything going for it, a Jazz-Age Mercedes roadster with a body by esteemed coachbuilder Saoutchik, it's the only known survivor of its type. Combine its Weimar Germany era provenance with the fact that it was last year's Pebble Beach Best of Show winner with a fresh restoration by famed Mercedes restorer Paul Russell and you have a car that can certainly do $10 under the right circumstances. (RM Auctions, Photos by Michael Furman)
OTHER CARS EXPECTED TO JOIN THE MILLION DOLLAR PLUS CLUB
1967 Toyota 2000GT
The only true blue chip Japanese collectible, the sinfully delicious Toyota 2000GT was a $65,000 car ten years ago. RM just sold one in April for a whopping $1.2 million, so naturally, they have another on offer hoping that lightning strikes twice. If my immortal soul has anywhere near a seven-figure value, you can rest assured that the devil and I will figure out how to put this one in my garage. (RM Auctions, Photos by Darin Schnabel)
1955 Porsche 550/1500 RS Spyder
The 550 Spyder is another car with seemingly no ceiling. Famous as being the car James Dean drove to his death in Salinas, California, the 550 Spyder was one of Porsche's first purpose built racers. Nice replicas abound but the real deal is incredibly scarce. North of $3 million seems right. (Mecum Auctions, Photos by David Newhardt)
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra
The original small block Cobra could be one of the most recent inductees into the Million Dollar Club with this one expected to fetch between $800,000 and $1,000,000. These were under $200,000 as recently as 2004. (RM Auctions, Photos by Pawel Litwinski) There's also an earlier car from 1962 at Russo and Steele that could make $1 million or more.
2010 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Coupe
So much for the notion of depreciation. It's rare to see a late model car at any of the Pebble Beach auctions, but the Veyron isn't just any used car. $1 million to $1.2 million. (Gooding and Company, Photos by Brian Henniker)