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Arizona Auction Action – First Big Event of the Year Sets Multiple Records

Ferraris lead the weekend, but even Detroit iron scores big.

by on Jan.20, 2014

A 1997 McLaren F1 goes up for bidding at the Gooding and Company auction in Scottsdale.

It may have been frigid cold in much of the country but the only word for Scottsdale, Arizona this past weekend was hot.

The Scottsdale auctions, that is, as an array of the world’s biggest automotive auction houses gathered in the tony Phoenix suburb for the first big event of the 2014 collector car season.  And the results were impressive, Gooding & Company alone claiming to set 11 new records, the auction house gaveling in a bid of $6.2 million for a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet, one of numerous all-time highs.

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That said, the weekend wrapped up without setting a new overall auction record, the pinnacle reached last summer when a Mercedes-Benz W196 sold for nearly $30 million.  But few appeared to be complaining about one of the most successful auction events on record, as just the top three auction houses alone reported a collective take of nearly $120 million.

The figure is expected to increase substantially when other auction houses weigh in, notably including the original Barrett-Jackson which helped turn Scottsdale into a must-attend weekend gathering for collectors.  According to a preliminary count by Hagerty Insurance, which specializes in collector cars, the grand total is likely to near $250 million.

A 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider took a record $8.8 million at RM.

Gooding managed to top the initial list of returns, with a total take of $49.4 million.  The firm claimed 11 new records in its two-day sale, moving six cars for more than $2 million – including the Ferrari 250 and a 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail that nabbed a winning bid of $5.3 million, including commission.  Another 13 cars drew bids of over 11 million.  Equally significant, the auction house sold a total of 110 of the 117 vehicles it put on the block, a 94% rate that suggested that buyers weren’t reluctant to spend their money.

The automotive auction market is often see as a bellwether of the U.S. economy, with sales tending to drop in advance of a recession and often rising at a faster pace than an economic recovery, according to those who follow the collector car circuit.

Even so, while the weekend was active, it didn’t approach the sort of record numbers seen just last summer when the Mercedes W196 nabbed an all-time record $30 million.  And the Ferrari that Gooding sold may have been a record for a 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet, but it still lagged well behind the $16 million bid for a 250 Testarossa back in 2011.

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Gooding wasn’t alone in reporting a strong weekend.  RM Auctions managed to sell 85% of the vehicles it had on hand, generating revenues of $45.6 million in two days.  RM managed to catch an all-time record for “Arizona Auction Week,” a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider gaveled off at $8.8 million.

Well behind in its total take, Bonhams nonetheless saw its total take double from January 2013, to $23.6 million, with 89% of the collectibles it had on hand finding new owners.  Again, a Ferrari set the pace, a 1951 212 Export Berlinetta, known as “The Tailor’s Car,” going for $3.2 million.  A 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C Gran Sport Spider came in a close second at $3.1 million.

It appears that Ferraris captured four of the top six bids over the weekend of frenzied bidding. But even some Detroit iron soared into multi-million-dollar territory.  That includes a 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Coupe that went for $3.8 million. Meanwhile, the first production version of the new 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 was won for $650,000 as part of a charity auction at the Barrett-Jackson, or more than six times the high-performance coupe will be sold for when it reaches showrooms.

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While the big, seven-figure bids capture headlines, the weekend offers a lot for collectors on a budget.  The average winning bid, according to Hagerty, was a more manageable $107,096.  That means some folks were able to nab what they came for at the five- and even four-figure levels, especially at the Barrett-Jackson which tends to focus on muscle cars and more affordable offerings.

Here’s a list of the Top 10 auction bids from this past weekend:

1. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Spyder sold for $8,800,000 (RM)
2. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet sold for $6,160,000 (Gooding)
3. 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail Coupe sold for $5,280,000 (Gooding)
4. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette L88 Coupe sold for $3,850,000 (Barrett-Jackson)
5. 1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica SI Coupe sold for $3,300,000 (Gooding)
6. 1951 Ferrari 212 Export Coupe sold for $3,190,000 (Bonhams)
7. 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider sold for $3,080,000 (Bonhams)
8. 1969 Chevrolet Corvette #57 Rebel L88 Convertible sold for $2,860,000 (Barrett-Jackson)
9. 1961 Porsche 718 RS 61 Spyder sold for $2,750,000 (RM)

10. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Coupe sold for $2,640,000 (Bonhams)

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