The auction houses have packed up and left Monterey, the buyers have headed home with their new purchases and sellers will be waiting for the cheques to drop onto their doormats as the dust settles. The biggest week of the classic car year is over – but where does it leave us?
If you are interested at all in classic car values you have probably already been bombarded with a plethora of auction house press releases announcing all the world records that were broken and detailed reports containing the obligatory Top Ten lists of cars sold (by value) – all reported in dollars just to make things that bit trickier to decipher. Just to show that the auction houses are really on top of the game these days, Gooding & Company even sent out a natty reminder of the cars that didn’t sell but and were still looking for buyers.
If any of these have managed to help you form a judgement on what went on as a whole then congratulations. We’ve always believed in comparing apples with apples but it’s hard to do that with individual cars so it is difficult to make overall comparisons by just looking at the numbers, but here they are anyway – kindly provided by our partners at Hagerty International.
Overall from all auction companies (2015)
Cumulative Total: $390.6M*
803/1,386 lots sold: 58%
Average Sale Price: $479,557
Median Sale Price: $96,800
2014 Cumulative Results
Cumulative Total: $428.1M
765/1,264 lots sold: 61%
Average Sale Price: $559,564
Median Sale Price: $99,000
Overall Top 10 Sales from all auctions:
1964 Ferrari 250 LM Coupe sold for $17,600,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spider (closed headlight) sold for $16,830,000 (Gooding & Co.)
1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe sold for $16,500,000 (Gooding & Co.)
1998 McLaren F1 LM Coupe sold for $13,750,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1953 Jaguar C-Type Works Lightweight Roadster sold for $13,200,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1956 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe sold for $13,200,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1982 Porsche 956 Coupe sold for $10,120,000 (Gooding & Co.)
1959 Ferrari 250 GT Interim Coupe sold for $8,525,000 (Bonhams)
1959 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Spider (open headlight) sold for $8,500,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
1950 Ferrari 275 S/340 America Barchetta sold for $7,975,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
(Based on our own auction data, and customer/dealer/partner feedback)
What do all these numbers tell us? That a slightly lower value of cars was sold this year in total than last year (which was a record-breaker) but factor in the extra $38 million Bonhams raised for the Ferrari 250 GTO last year and the totals are spookily similar. The average sale price is down, but we are really comparing Granny Smiths with Satsumas so the comparison doesn’t stand up to intense scrutiny. The top ten cars sold doesn’t really help but it makes for a fun statistic – perhaps the top ten cars not sold would be more useful?
The other factor that some eagle-eyed observers might reference is sale price compared to the pre-sale estimate – many cars were selling below estimate. Estimates for Monterey 2015 were in the main slightly higher than at the last really big round of US auction sales in Arizona in January, and Monterey saw a significant number of cars sell below estimate. However the number of cars sold in the lower half of the estimate or below for the big three international auction houses (Bonhams, RM Sothebys and Gooding & Company) were virtually identical which is even more remarkable when you consider the increasing pressure that over-ambitious sellers are putting on auction houses to win their business – a case of the tail wagging the dog? What we have observed at Classic & Sports Finance is a tapering of values achieved at auction over the last 12 months – from a broad spread of sold prices (from high to low) for individual models – to much more focused values that reflect real market values more accurately as a general rule. This is in part due to fewer examples of some models (Aston Martin DB5 is a good example of a car that was thin on the ground in Monterey) coming to auction and also increased availability of many cars outside the auction market, which after all only represents around 10% of total global collector car market. You only need to look at the stock on offer at UK auctions over the next month or so to see that the most desirable cars are now getting thin on the ground – or at the very least in some auction catalogues.
In summary – $390 million of cars were sold in just 5 days at one location and auction house performance was in line with previous sales of this type. In short, a lot of cars sold for a lot of money. Modern hypercars continue to perform well and the best and most individual collector cars values continue to out-perform those classics that speculators have scrambled to “invest” in over the last 24 months (late Ferraris would be a good example) – just as they always have and will. Two cars that illustrate this beautifully are the last Ferrari Enzo off the production line that was given to the Pope which sold for just under £4 million and Steve McQueen’s 911 Turbo that sold for £1.3 million – both miles over normal market value.
The market is losing some of it’s forward momentum but that isn’t news – it has been for a while (12 months) – and it clearly has the stopping power of a supertanker (in other words limited). The only missing piece of the jigsaw is where on earth all these buyers are coming from – but there is currently no shortage. Where to now? We’d say it’s business as usual, but some speculators are moving on to pastures new and experienced classic car enthusiasts are using this to their advantage. The best stock may also firm up on dealer forecourts due to a slowly waning supply.
We’re still a way off from prices taking a serious dip as the real enthusiasts move back into the market.
The auction houses did a great job, classic car lovers had a great time and the media had a field day. All in all, a good result.
Want a second opinion?
Much of the classic car media seems to have shied away from making any in depth comment – short of listing the most expensive cars sold and moving swiftly on. The “big” story of choice was that a lot of cars sold under estimate but we felt that this was a non-story once you have examined the performance of the big three auction houses (Bonhams/ RM Sothebys/ Gooding & Co) at the big sales rounds this year – lots of straight lines…..
Remember that pre-sale estimates are based on the anticipated hammer price – many observers continue to compare them with the total sale price with sellers premium added, so there are some incorrect and misleading statistics out there!
For the record: The usual media soundbites…
What did well?
The truly rare and exceptional. What might be considered to be discerning choices for the collector did better than the rest. It was interesting that the Bertone shark-nosed Ferrari 250 Speciale sold for bang on estimate and the 250 GT SWB Competizione went unsold for a price that many would consider reasonable. The buyer of the Baillon Collection Ferrari 250 SWB California barn find (£12.2 million) must have been wincing as Gooding sold another 250 California – Ferrari Classiche certified and not in need of a total restoration – for £10.7 million although we are sure it would be argued that the former car was unique and more desirable… The record breaking Ferrari 250 LM will be returning to the UK for a customer of DK Engineering.
Steve McQueen’s Porsche 930 Turbo – $1.95 million
Porsche 959 prices were varied – £1,1 million/ £932,000 / £774,000 inc premium. Impressive given the prices just a couple of years ago.
McLaren P1s were selling around market value at £1.2-1.3 million
What didn’t do so well?
Mercedes estimates for Pagoda and 190 were less bullish than of late with some sensible prices prevailing. 300SL didn’t meet median estimate in the main. US cars weren’t flying of the blocks of the international auction houses. Sadly for fans of Testarossas and Don Johnson, the Miami Vice Testarossa didn’t sell (yet again) despite being bid to $600,000 (£384,000).
|Monterey 2015||RM Sothebys||Gooding &Co||Bonhams|
|Sold over estimate||9%||11%||9%|
|Sold under estimate||47%||58%||55%|
|Sold in lower half of estimate||16%||7%||13%|
|Sold in upper half of estimate||9%||10%||10%|
|Sold in lower half of estimate or below||63%||65%||68%|
|Sold in upper half of estimate or above||17%||21%||19%|
|Sold at median estimate||3%||2%||0%|
|Sold within estimate – ACCURACY||27%||19%||23%|
Auction House Performance