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."



2. 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta
Pre-Sale Estimate: $9-11 million

1957 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta

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

1953 Ferrari 375 MM Spider

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

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster

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

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

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

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

2010 Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

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)


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      JF GeSchmidtt
      • 1 Year Ago
      When I was a senior in high school a friend of mine, who's father owned the local Toyota dealership had a Toyota 2000 GT. He took me for a ride in it, we drove it close to 120 mph. I was in love. This was about the time Datsun was bringing out to 240Z and I was expecting Toyota to go head to head with them, but they never did. Not sure what the production run was, but it is sad that not too many of these cars got into the hands of many people, because as the pictures show they were very beautiful.
      manure
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow I just came to SF for a meeting. Maybe there will be time to sell my rental Chevy Aveo... the pedigree is just sublime with some of the era's true bon vivants driving to the local Charles Jr and Denny's.
      Sanchez
      • 1 Year Ago
      What, no like-new Mercury LN7?
      ctsmith1066
      • 1 Year Ago
      The GTB is fantastic, but I love love LOVE that Mercedes Roadster.
      Jake Pinon
      • 1 Year Ago
      "We might as well call a spade a spade here "... I know this is not a well known issue, but to "call a spade a spade" is actually thought to be a kind of derogatory term towards African Americans, I would try to not use this idiom in the future, FYI....
        Blue
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jake Pinon
        I never would have made that connection before you brought it up. Here's something for you: "While some construe the phrase “to call a spade a spade” to have racial allusions, its history suggests that no such allusion exists. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase ultimately traces back to a Greek expression appearing in Plutarch's Apophthegmata. Plutarch's phrase contained a noun meaning "trough, basin, bowl, boat," which, it seems, was later mistranslated by Erasmus, who mistook the word for a derivative of a Greek term meaning "to dig." The error was carried over into English, where the phrase came to be rendered as “to call a spade a spade”; the first citation of the phrase listed in the OED dates from 1542. The earliest usage of “spade” to refer to a black person in English dates from 1928. Most etymologists agree that this usage stems from the comparison of such a person’s skin color to the black markings found on playing cards. The spade referenced in “to call a spade a spade,” then, is clearly of the digging implement sort, and has nothing to do with the offensive racial epithet." FYI.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      chrismcfreely
      • 1 Year Ago
      \"this is the sexiest sports car on the planet\" -Baloney
      KingTito
      • 1 Year Ago
      I loved the 2000GT convertible in \"You Only Live Twice\". I remember hearing that they were made specifically for the movie but I imagine if one surfaces for auction, it would go for quite the sum!
      Cayman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Obviously a matter of opinion, but I think the 250 Coupe is sexier than the 275 convertible. Now I just need to figure out if I can swing the monthly payments on a $11M loan.
      Teleny411
      • 1 Year Ago
      These cars (excepting the Veyron) come from an era when designers could mix beauty with aggression. These days we get weird and aggressive.