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Pebble Beach Auction Tally Tops All-Time Record

$11 mil for a Ford.

by on Aug.20, 2012

This GT40 Le Mans winner nabbed an $11 mil. all-time record bid for a Ford.

What economic downturn?

Auctioneers gaveled in a record $260.3 million in sales over the long Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance weekend, shattering last year’s $197.5 million tally, according to preliminary numbers compiled by Hagerty Insurance, which specializes in classic and exotic automobiles.

The strong performance came despite a decline in the actual number of vehicles being auctioned off during the four-day gathering. And the figures actually could go higher as some cars that didn’t hit their minimums during the auction could still be sold before the five biggest auction firms break down their tents.

The top seller was a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that garnered a winning bid of $11,770,000 at the Gooding auction house.  That was more than many had anticipated – but fell short of the $15 million figure some had expected.

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Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was the $11,000,000 that RM Auctions nabbed for a 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Coupe. It has a strong pedigree among the very limited run of supercars that the late Henry Ford II ordered built after the Detroit maker failed in its bid to purchased Ferrari, back in the 1960s.  This particular GT40 won the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race four years in a row, from 1966 to 1969.

It was later used as a camera car in the Steve McQueen movie, Le Mans.

A 1960 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Competizione Spyder, meanwhile, nabbed the second-highest bid of the weekend at the five main auction houses, $11,275,000.

(From Swan Cars to Duesenbergs. The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance draws some of the world’s most exotic, desirable – and occasionally odd — automobiles.  Click Here for our coverage.)

Bidding during the Concours weekend was so strong that Gooding, RM, Mecum, Bonham and Russo and Steele collectively beat last year’s $197 million total by Saturday night.

Exotic and rare automobile auctions have been racing out in front of the overall U.S. economy – though whether that reflects the availability of cash due to lower tax rates, a move by wealthy collectors to invest in assets showing strong growth potential or some other factor is unclear.

What’s telling is that in 2011, there were 882 vehicles, or “lots”, sold at Pebble Beach.  This year, there were just 754.  But the average lot went for $345,272 this time around, up from $223,950 in 2011, according to Hagerty.


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