2022 Monterey Week Auctions: The K500 Takeaway
At a combined gross for the Big Three plus new firm Broad Arrow in excess of $406m*, 2022 saw the greatest-ever amount of money traded for collectors’ cars on the Peninsula. The previous high-water marks were $356m and $339m achieved in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Here’s our take on this year’s dealmaking trends.
First, though, congratulations to Lee R Anderson Snr, whose 1932 Duesenberg Model J Sports Torpedo by Figoni (top) won Best of Show at the 2022 Pebble Beach Concours. The world will have to wait a bit longer for Pebble Beach to catch up with the wider market’s taste, as only one post-War car has won the world’s most famous concours in the modern era and most of those that flew in the auctions wouldn’t even be allowed on the field.
Back to business:
1. “Hello, we haven’t met before.” The influx of new, younger buyers to the world of car collecting made itself felt. Modern Porsche and Ferrari collectors, used to buying online throughout Covid, made it to the live auction tent, and in some cases spent large. New faces on the rostrum at Broad Arrow, Gooding and for some of the time RM, plus great new stage sets, gave auctions a different look.
2. “Racing is life.” McQueen said it, but if he’d waited too long and consigned older 1950s racing cars to this year’s sales, he’d have been disappointed. The Oscar Davis Ferrari 410 S was let go at a figure $10m off its top estimate. Neither Porsche RSK sold on the night; the other Davis racers never sprinted away, with the Maserati 450 S (est. $9m to $11m) moved on post-auction to the trade for ca. $7.6m. Bonhams’ E-type Lightweight faltered. There is buyer value in this sector.
3. “Slowly gaining altitude.” Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster prices have been buoyant in the past nine months but only just nudged up this week. Blame a lack of stand-out examples with exciting specs. Ferrari 275s, both berlinettas and spiders, took a step forward but not much more than inflation. Restoration quality and histories (including mixed identities) were generally average.
4. “Rumours of my demise are exaggerated.” Old-school quality found buyers if the price was right. Despite a job lot of Mercedes 500Ks and 540Ks sold on the cheap at RM’s opening day, Californian house Gooding sold a handsome 540K Sport Cabriolet A for $800k over top estimate. Its $6m Count Volpi Ferrari 400 SA Series I Aerodinamico was another success, and RM found a buyer at $2m for a heavy 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic. The Talbot Lago Teardrop was great value at $7.265m despite needing work, and so was the iconic Hispano Suiza H6C Tulipwood Torpedo – a sure future Pebble Beach winner – at $9.245m, although it deserves total restoration. Essentially, coachbuilt sports cars from before and after WW2 still have their following amongst real collectors rather than speculators.
5. “It will be the next McLaren F1.” Prices for the holy trinity of Ferrari supercars – 288 GTO, F40 and F50 – soared ever higher, pulling in their wake low-production models such as the 599 GTO and F512M, now a $700k, rather than $180k, ugly duckling. We remain to be convinced that this growth is sustainable.
6. “The good old days.” The market for grand pre-War classics might now be better served at Amelia Island, or not at auction, though once again a 1930s car won the top award at Pebble. How more youthful enthusiasts transfer their passions from Porsche GT3s and 599 GTOs to these cars remains to be seen. In isolation the greats, such as the Bugatti Type 57 SC Atalante at Gooding, which was underbid by a 40-year-old, will be lusted after by a broad range of connoisseurs for years to come.
*With post sales, this figure increased to $421,347,640.
You can download a list of all cars sold by Bonhams, Broad Arrow, Gooding & Co and RM Sotheby's sorted by make and model HERE.
Photos by K500