The Market


A Grand Finale in Florida? We’re about to find out

A Grand Finale in Florida? We’re about to find out 10th January 2024

As the crescendo builds at “The World's Largest Collector Car Auction®”, this weekend things get serious. The big ticket, 24-carat entries will soon cross the block to much fanfare at the Osceola Heritage Park, Kissimmee, Florida. Let’s look at the headliners, including three of the most coveted 1960s Ferraris ever made.

The doorstop catalogue totals almost 4,500 cars, the vast majority of which are American muscle and other blue-collar classics. The action kicked off on 2 January and will wrap up on 14 January. It’s a successful formula that for 25 years at Kissimmee alone has served the company, and founder Dana Mecum, well. So well that several of the entries listed below – including many of the most valuable – are owned by them. The world of tourist hotels with water slides in Florida is a far cry from Gooding’s crystal lobby chandeliers at Pebble Beach and RM’s plush carpets in the ballroom of the Portola, but past results speak for themselves. This is the sharp end of dealmaking.

Here's our take on the cars to watch this week, of which the top three alone could gross over $75 million. Many have been offered before, often at Mecum, and should they not sell will probably resurface again. It might not be highbrow, but the many zeroes on the estimates are a big draw for the paying public there to have fun at the show and buy T-shirts, other souvenirs and sub-$100k metal by the truckload.

Thursday 11 January

Lot T164.1 1968 Ferrari 330 GTC, est. $500k to $600k No Reserve. Second time round for resale red, US-delivered car offered for $600k to $700k last August in Monterey.

Friday 12 January

Lot F155 1966 Ford GT40 Mk I road car, est. ‘On Request’. Claimed 13,442 miles. GT40 ‘P/1052’ has never been raced, has had barely a handful of owners and has been out of the public eye for 30 years. Restoration by Porsche specialist Ruf in Germany is an unusual choice, but it’s one of the highlights of the event and we rate original roadgoing GT40s as cars to own.

Lot F215 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, est. $3m to $3.5m. Believed first of only six factory black four-cams. Bought for $2.97m at Mecum’s January 2023 event, at the time red with black interior. Boasting minor period racing history when supported by Ferrari Assistenza Clienti, it’s now as delivered in black with correct orange Connolly leather. The recent restoration could well not be to Paul Russell standards, but it’s on the money and we like it.

Saturday 13 January

Lot S131 2004 Ferrari Enzo, est. $4.5m to $4.75m. Believed one of six in Grigio Titanio, a Swiss car Federalised for the US with Ferrari Red Book and an odometer reading 2,745 miles. Sold with 2,727 miles recorded for $4.13m at Gooding in Pebble Beach 2022, the third highest figure recorded by K500 for an Enzo. Making a ca. $400k profit after 16 months – and 18 miles – in a less heated market might be difficult.

Lot S131.1 1992 Ferrari F40, est. $3.2m to $3.5m. US-specification F40 with catalogued 8,688 miles. Not sold during Bonhams’ 2023 Amelia Island auction at an estimate of $2.9m to $3.4m and unused since. Two US-spec (more valuable over here) F40s were shifted by RM and Gooding in August 2022 for $3.9m – arguably better cars, in certainly a more bullish atmosphere.

Lot S137.1 1963 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Coupé Aerodinamico, est. $2.25m to $2.5m. Open-headlamp, long-wheelbase Series 2, another re-run from August 2023 ($2.85m to $3.1m) and formerly owned by US talk show host David Letterman. Remember, Gooding’s $3.17m August 2023 example was a SWB with covered headlamps; the year before it sold a similar but unique alloy car for $6m at the same event. One of the ‘ultra luxury’ Ferraris but not the best variant, in a niche market for coachbuilt GTs.

Lot S138 1958 Ferrari 250 GT 'Tour de France' Berlinetta, est. $2.25m to $2.75m. Chassis 0899 GT can probably find its way into an auction tent or classic car showroom unaided. Perennially on the market due to so many replacement components (“damaged in a road accident... parted out... engine removed... body removed... chassis only sold” aren’t great selling points online) and a French ‘double’ claiming the same chassis number. Bonhams had it at Quail Lodge in 2017 at ‘Refer Dept’ and it did not sell, while Mecum themselves have run ‘0899 GT’ over the block many times since, eventually announcing it sold for $2.86m in August 2022 (less than half the price of a regular, ‘no stories’ ‘TdF’, but the extra money would be well-spent).

Lot S142 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter 2+2 Berlina by Ghia, est. $550k to $700k. A further not-sold Letterman car from 2022 ($700k to $900k). Not one of Ferrari’s, or Carrozzeria Ghia’s finest efforts. The market for early 1950s cars is slow at best, like most of their performance, but this one ticks almost every box for what buyers don’t want these days: the lowest performance spec available, dull detailing (surprising for Ghia who were usually extravagant), bloated looks which recall a trusty Volvo, and to cap it all off it’s bright red. If nothing else, it perfectly illustrates why Pinin Farina became Ferrari’s coachbuilder of choice.

LOT S148 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort, est. $1.85m to $2m. First delivered to France but imported to US in 2002 and by 2007 had received a host of in-house improvements and California state certification courtesy of model expert Canepa. In the zone on value.

Lot S195.1 1967 Ferrari 275 GTS/4 NART Spider, est. ‘On Request’. This is one of the Big Two headliners at Mecum, and if given a bid anywhere in sight of $25 million we expect it to sell. Ferrari built ten NART Spiders for their US importer, and all bar the final one were sold new to their US clients. The last NART to sell at auction made $27,500,000 in 2013, but it had been owned by the same family from new. This is the 9th of the ten NARTs, still in its correct and handsome silver with red interior, and although it’s had at least 12 owners during its life, it’s a ‘proper’ and well-presented car. A small market as ten times rarer than a California Spider, but also 50% more valuable than a benchmark California like the one previewed two cars below, which narrows the buyer pool to the few collectors with deep enough pockets who already own all the lesser models.

Lot S195.2 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale, est. ‘On Request’. One of three racing versions built for homologation but two (including this one) never competed in period. It was originally sold to Pietro Ferraro, coincidentally also the first ex-factory owner of the 330 LM/250 GTO sold recently by RM, in his elegant preferred livery of very dark maroon. Purchased at RM’s 2014 Monterey sale for $26.4m when metallic grey by a well-known US East Coast collector who repainted it his trademark Rosso Corsa. Current presentation of bright red with wannabe-GTO cooling ducts in the nose manages to make it look like an expensive Datsun-based GTO replica. It’s crying out for proper restoration and a Ferrari Red Book, neither of which come cheaply. Comparisons with the sole model of its type that really raced, finishing 3rd overall at Le Mans 1965, are not really relevant. BUT… it’s still an incredibly rare and exotic Ferrari road car with racing underpinnings. Is it worth much more than a great Comp SWB? As much as a ‘no stories’ 250 LM? Or a NART Spider? It will probably need a bid with a three in front to buy it – we love the car’s potential, but this will be a tough mountain to climb.

Lot S195.3 1963 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, est. ‘On Request’. Last California Spider made and, as a steel SWB with covered headlamps, the standard reference variant. Betraying an innocence of this rarefied end of the market, rather than referencing California Spider owners Alain Delon or James Coburn, Mecum’s catalogue name-checks Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and its starring ‘replica California Spyder’. The downside of this particular car is its original specification of Rosso Corsa (with beige leather) but being the last of the line is always a standout feature and overall we still rate this car. Last year at Amelia Island Gooding sold a striking turquoise sister car for $18.045m, but RM deflated the market with two no-sales in 2023, so Californias have tended to languish recently. Estimated at $16-20m, we’d give this a decent chance around the lower figure. It is, after all, one of the benchmark classic Ferraris in the configuration (colour apart) that well-heeled buyers like.

Lot S218 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS, est. $1.25m to $1.5m. German car, offered by RM at Amelia Island in 2022 when red for $1.6m to $2m: unsold. Forever the least fancied variant of the 275, or pretty librarian cousin of the supermodel California Spider, but good value if you want a useable, V12-engined classic open Ferrari. Marked sold at Mecum’s Monterey 2023 event for $1.5m, now repainted in correct Bianco. Maybe third time lucky.

Lot S223.1 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS, est. $450k to $500k. Previously sold by RM for $302,000 in January 2020, an average US-spec GTS delivered new in dark red (Rosso Cordoba) with little catalogued history, even over the last four years. Air-conditioning is interesting, though not as rare in the US, as are leather ‘Daytona’ seats. Ultimately ‘just a car’ until someone spends the money on it.

Lot S226.1 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC, est. $425,000 to $475,000. Another German Ferrari that found its way to the US, originally Argento with Nero and now inevitably red. Declared sold by Mecum for $412,500 in January 2023 after long-term owner Richard Grant died in 2022. Several lots from his collection are in this auction.

It’ll be interesting to see whether the stars of the show are there for window dressing, or whether Mecum can tempt the masters of the collecting universe (or their agents) to this land far away from their usual orbit, and to raise their hands and make magic happen. The quality is there, even if the circumstances are improbable. When the dust has settled, we’ll make sense of the results to see what actually sold, or might be coming back to fight another day.

All quoted auction results include buyer’s premium.


Photo by Alamy