Classic car auctions in Monterey score a record $469 million


Wealthy car collectors shrugged off recession worries and spent over $460 million at classic car auctions in Monterey this weekend, according to insurance and lifestyle company Hagerty.

Over 790 cars sold at an average price of $590,700 at the auctions between Thursday night and Monday morning for a weekend total of $469 million, according Hagerty. The sales total smashed the previous sales record at Monterey, set in 2015 at $395 million.

The sales in Monterey and Pebble Beach, leading up to the Concours d’Elegance Sunday, mark the biggest test of the year for the classic-car market and suggest that wealthy collectors remain bullish despite recession fears and recent stock market volatility. More than 110 cars sold for $1 million or more this weekend, marking a record.

“If anyone had any questions about whether this would be a strong year, this week proved that demand for all different segments of collector cars was very strong,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty. “Almost every auction company reported multiple, strong bidders, on multiple cars.”

1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante
Copyright and Courtesy of Gooding & Company, Images by Mike Maez.

Leading up to the weekend, some experts feared soaring prices for classic cars were due for a correction. Several big collectors dumped large portions of their collections at Monterey, suggesting the smart money sees a market peak.

There were scattered signs of overexuberant pricing: The top lot of the week, a 1955 Ferrari auctioned at RM Sotheby’s, sold for $22 million — below its estimated value of between $25 million and $30 million. Several cars failed to sell at their asking price.

The sell-through rate, or share of cars that sold, was 79%, just shy of last year’s 80% rate.

1955 Ferrari 410
Source: Patrick Ernzen ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Yet demand was strong for almost every category of collectible cars — from pre-War classics and 1960s Corvettes to ’90s Ferraris and 2021 supercars. New price records were set for a wide range of models.

The auctions were also fueled by collectors of all ages, with millennial collectors playing an increasing role at the sales.

Auctioneers say impulse buying of six-figure cars was also strong, as wealthy buyers decided last-minute to register and bid.

“Anecdotally, we saw some buy-it-now bidders – bidders that came out to the auctions, saw the car or cars they wanted, registered to bid onsite on important cars, won auctions, went to the bank the next morning, got a cashier’s check to pay for it and drove them around this week,” CEO Hagerty said. “That’s pretty rare and says a lot about today’s driving-focused buyers.”

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K
Darin Schnabel ©2022 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Here are the top 10 most expensive cars sold at Monterey:

10. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet, sold for $6,825,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

9. 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Coupe, sold for $7,265,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

8. 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Spider, sold for $7,485,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

7. 1954 Ferrari 375 America Vignale Cabriolet, sold for $7,595,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

6. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Coupe, sold for $7,595,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

5. 1957 Ferrari 500 TRC Spider, sold for $7,815,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

4. 1924 Hispano-Suiza H6C Transformable Torpedo, sold for $9,245,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

3. 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Sindelfingen Roadster, sold for $9,905,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

2. 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Coupe, sold for $10,345,000 (Gooding & Company)

1. 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Spider, sold for $22,005,000 (RM Sotheby’s)

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