New York Times 8.21.9
By ROB SASS
DESPITE the Champagne flutes and oversize hats at the Pebble Beach classic-car celebrations last weekend, it was clear that the economy was weighing on collectors.
Five auctions took place in the Monterey area starting on Aug. 13. And while these provide a gauge of the current market, the mixed results make it hard to reach simple conclusions.
As expected, total dollar volume declined — to about $117 million this year from $138 million in 2008. Gooding & Company was again the overall leader with just over $50 million of sales.
But the total amounts that changed hands don’t tell the whole story: overall results were puffed up by sales of high-price cars like a 1965 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe that brought $7.25 million including buyer’s premium (the weekend’s high sale) at the Mecum Auctions sale; a Ferrari California Spider sold by Gooding for $5.1 million; and a Jaguar C-Type that brought $2.8 million at the RM auction.
A 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Special, once Ettore Bugatti’s personal car, sold for $1.38 million.
A collection of 50 American woodys was also well received, selling for a total of nearly $7.5 million at an RM auction.
The auctions’ sell-through rates — the percentage of cars that actually sold — ranged from a high of more than 80 percent to a low of around 50 percent.
Clearly, buyers at the very top end of the market still have no qualms about writing checks for very expensive cars. The 10 highest single-lot sales came to more than $40 million, or a third of the total.
But the situation was less rosy further down the line. More common cars and those in less-than-perfect condition sold, in many cases, for much less than their low estimates.
Beyond the auctions, Pebble Beach continued to draw sponsors despite the recession. Automakers as varied as Hyundai and Bentley introduced new models here.
Of the classics, a scene-stealer was a 1937 Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet. The imposing German convertible, owned by Robert M. Lee of Sparks, Nev., was named Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Élégance.
Waiting for Spring - Spring has definitely not spring in New York. It’s grey and rainy and nothing has bloomed yet. Until it does, I’m making due by living vicariously through ...
9 hours ago