The Market


2024 Arizona sales: RM Sotheby’s

2024 Arizona sales: RM Sotheby’s 26th January 2024

With Rétromobile week – a must-do event that attracts the best collectors from all over the globe – only a few days later, for the major-league players offering the finest, usually European Grandes Marques, Scottsdale has lost its allure. Even RM posted results way below its usual best. At the Arizona Biltmore yesterday the gross was $22.94m – 12 months ago it was $44.74m.

And the sell-through has taken a hit, too: 75% vs. 91% in 2023. Blame a catalogue lacking firepower for the above reason, a slight cooling of business even in North America and, to a certain extent, a British rival running another sale on the other side of town.

As seen at Bonhams, it was a box-fresh modern hypercar that topped the Canadians’ offerings at the Biltmore. RM’s catalogue featured better cars – an average of $521k per lot vs. $254k for the Brits – even though many of the more expensive ones did not sell.

These included the pricy ‘Chairs and Flares’ Dino GTS, Porsche 959 Komfort uprated by Canepa, Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet, Porsche 918 Spyder, Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II and Aston Martin short-chassis Volante. These are staples of the auction tent with perceived ‘firm’ values; not one selling says something about the condition of the market in early 2024.

At a glance:

* Gross, motor cars: $22,937,660 (2023, $44,736,341)
* Percentage sold by number: 75% (2023, 91%)
* Top-selling car: 2020 McLaren Speedtail $2,012,500 gross, $1,825,000 net (est. $2m to $2.5m)    
* Well sold? On breaking through its $125k to $175k estimate, the $235,200 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Tourer by Thrupp & Maberly. Wiser heads will know if this oversold or undervalued the elegant pre-War Rolls
* Well bought? The small-block Cobra (pictured, top) our car of the day snapped up for $1,215,000

The yellow Dino GTS was in at a punchy $650k to $850k, despite a description that noted that, “over the next decade, [it] was offered for sale several more times”. Against this, both the ‘Daytona’ Berlinetta and 250 GT Lusso were No Reserve, V12 Ferraris which could possibly be bought cheaply. The Lusso came from nearly 40 years of single ownership. Now bright red – was attractive Rosso Rubino when delivered new to Milan – it sold for $1,352,500 needing sympathetic work, as much of the interior is believed to be original.

The Euro-spec Blue Dino 1972 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ was a flip-up headlamp car fully restored with some modern tweaks in the UK. At an all-in price of $632,000, the result hardly drags up the average for this model, but it did sell, unlike many others offered in recent times.

Our car of the 2024 Scottsdale sales must be the very first 289 Cobra, one that still packs its original motor and comes with a raft of paperwork and terrific provenance in the hands of first owner, pioneering computer scientist Dr Harrison ‘Hap’ Horn. Horn went on to develop the original Macintosh computer with Steve Jobs. That sort of thing sells cars; the Cobra 428 with non-original 427 ‘side-oiler’ went home unsold.

Interestingly, were Singer to turn its attention to Porsche 356s, the Californian firm might come up with something like a 260bhp 356 A ‘Outlaw’ by Emory. It’s a three-year waiting list for the cars built at the company’s HQ in McMinnville, Oregon, and yesterday someone paid $747,500 to jump the queue. Modified cars generally do poorly at auction, “one man’s dream” and all that, but quality counts as proved by ‘reimagined’ Porsches by Emory, Singer and Ruf.

RM Sotheby’s at The Arizona Biltmore, 25 January 2024 – results (2023)

Gross: $22,937,660 ($44,736,341)
Number of cars not sold: 21 (8)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (0)
Total number of cars: 84 (88)
Number sold: 63 (80)
Percentage cars sold by number: 75% (91%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 46% (73%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 52% (70%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 73% (81%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 17% (8%)
Average value of cars sold: $364,090 ($559,204)
Average year of cars offered: 1976 (1978)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 50% (56%)

All prices include buyer’s premium.

With thanks to Greg Ingold, who also provided the main photograph