Season-opener in the desert: What to watch in the 2019 Arizona sales

Season-opener in the desert: What to watch in the 2019 Arizona sales 11th January 2019

More cars than ever offered by the Big Three at lower average values, with just one catalogued over $10m – but what lies beneath the headline figures? We delve into this year’s Scottsdale catalogues.

Includes complete lot listing sorted by make and model
As background, in January 2018, Bonhams, RM and Gooding grossed a combined total of $110.8m in Arizona, down from $123.7m in 2017. Two years earlier, the gross hit $143.2m, while 2014’s $118.7m included 19% of cars selling above top estimate – a figure that’s not been equalled since.
At a glance this year (and 2018):
* 404 cars (367)
* Average mid-estimate price per car offered $443k ($500k)
* 64% offered at No Reserve (Bonhams 80%, RM 61%, Gooding 52%) – the same as 2018
* Average year of cars offered 1969 (1969)

Bonhams, 17 January 2019
The Brits kick off proceedings with a monster 120-car catalogue topped by a ‘Refer Dept.’ 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Series I Spider by Pinin Farina (pictured, top).
Commissioned by larger-than-life (ask the ladies…) playboy Porfirio Rubirosa, delivered in bright blue, raced by Phil Hill and Richie Ginther for SoCal team owner John von Neumann, famously pictured with an admiring James Dean and recently the subject of an expensive Ferrari Classiche restoration: the petite Ferrari ticks all the boxes. Only a replacement engine – by Ferrari Classiche, with the right stampings – is a negative. Last year, Gooding sold a similar car, less celebrated but with matching numbers, for $4.46m.
The rest of the packed catalogue is traditional US auction fare, mostly without reserve, a tactic that’s worked well for the Bond St team in the past. A Porsche 904 (non-original engine, priced right at $1.4m to $1.6m) and a mainly untouched 1955 300 SL Gullwing with a handful of owners, one to buy at $1.15m to $1.35m, are cars we tip.
THE car to watch, though, is the North American-spec 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV (above). Totally off the radar, coming out of 45-year ownership, this late, split-sump SV is genuinely fresh to market. Now mid-blue – repainted from attractive Argento Indianapolis Metallizzato some while ago – it’s charmingly scruffy. The killer, unfortunately, is an engine swap early in its life.
RM’s recent sale of a similar US-market SV (matching numbers, single sump, US semi-restored) for $2.2m all-in puts Bonhams' broad estimate of $1.7m to $2.1m into context.

RM Sotheby’s, 17-18 January 2019
Well before Bonhams has finished its marathon at the Westin Kierland, buyers will start drifting away to day one of RM’s 160-car gig at the Arizona Biltmore.
The Canadians, like the others, are hedging their bets with a broad-ranging catalogue without too much focus on any one genre. So expect a disparate audience of old-timers interested in 1930s Americana, mixing with younger collectors who have an eye for modern 911s – plus a bedrock of traditional Ferrari collectors.
The headliner at RM, our favourite, was built at Maranello, the ex-Princess Lilian de Réthy (King Leopold’s wife) 1957 Ferrari 250 GT Coupé with one-off coachwork by Pinin Farina (above). The exotic creation carries an estimate worthy of a king’s ransom: $11m to $13m. At double the value of an equally striking Series 1 250 GT Pinin Farina Cabriolet, money that could buy an open-headlamp LWB California Spider, RM’s vendor clearly has confidence in the continuing strength of the Ferrari show circuit. We’d expect some behind-the-scenes number crunching to get the car sold.
Elsewhere, look out for the Daytona Spider (a US car but converted to Euro spec in the UK) for $2.2m to $2.6m. This, and the $2.8m to $3.2m 275 GTB/4 and $400k to $500k 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring, define the recent collectors’ sweet spot. How they perform in Scottsdale will be a marker for the year to come.

Gooding & Co, 18-19 January 2019
Another Ferrari takes top billing in David Gooding's catalogue. After (only just) selling Battista Pininfarina’s own one-off show car 275 GTB for $8m in 2018, it will be early 275 GTB time again when English auctioneer Charlie Ross offers the 1964 275 GTB Prototype (above), a chassis retained by the factory and used for racing, testing and development. It also had a run in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally – though it didn’t trouble eventual winners Toivonen/Mikander in a humble Citroën too much. Nevertheless, a highlight of the week.
The estimate of $6m to $8m is close to steel 250 GT SWB territory and by coincidence Gooding has one of those for the same money. Chassis 4037 GT is a very late-delivered SWB, always red and first sold to the US. The car did the rounds of European racing events in the 1980s and ’90s, before its sale at auction (for just £250,000) by Simon in 1993. It’s floated around on the market in recent years, and deserves to find a long-term home in Scottsdale.
For the rest of the catalogue, Gooding has injected some interesting home-grown muscle such as the Chevy Corvette L88 Roadster. It also has the most interesting 300 SL Gullwing of the week: a factory Rudge wheel car delivered to conductor Herbert von Karajan and until last year in the same ownership since 1964. A running, Preservation Class barn-find, expect bidding on the $1.1m to $1.4m car to hit the right key.
Note: for 2019 Gooding has raised its buyer’s premium. Under $250k it’s 12%, over that it’s 12% on the $250k plus 10% on the balance.

January 2019 Scottsdale Auction Schedule:

Barrett-Jackson – event from Saturday 12 January to Sunday 20 January. Sales from Monday 14 January to Sunday 20 January. Gates open at 08:00. 16601 N. Pima Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. See

Worldwide Auctioneers – sale Wednesday 16 January at 17:00. Viewing from  09:00. Event address: 6460 E McDowell Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257. See

Russo & Steele – sales Thursday 17 January to Sunday 20 January. Gates open at 09:00. Event address: Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, 7555 N Pima Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258 (off 101 Freeway and Indian Bend/Talking Stick Way). See

Bonhams – sale Thursday 17 January at 11:00. The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, 6902 East Greenway Parkway, Scottsdale AZ 85254. See

RM Auctions – sales Thursday 17 January and Friday 18 January. Auctions at 17:30. Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, 2400 East Missouri Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85016. See

Gooding & Co – sales Friday 18 January and Saturday 19 January. Auctions at 11:00. Scottsdale Fashion Square, 4700 N. Scottsdale Road. Corner of N. Scottsdale Road and E. Highland Ave. See

All photos copyright and courtesey of the auction houses