It is arguably one of the automotive highlights each year, the Monterey car week in California. It includes the main Concours event at Pebble Beach as well as a number of auctions. We pick our top 5 cars from these two auctions.
Words: Wilhelm Lutjeharms
This year, as previous years, the auctions were held by RM Sotheby’s and Gooding & Company. The results make for fascinating reading, especially as some new record prices were achieved. A few of the cars that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing crossing the stage didn’t sell, but that did not deter a healthy market responding with their deep pockets.
1995 McLaren F1 – $20,465 million – R305 million (new record for the model)
With less than 400 km on the odo, this McLaren is not even run in! That could present its own challenges should the new owner decide to take this car and fully enjoy it at speed. This super low mileage undoubtedly helped to achieve this record price. Let’s just remind ourselves that this is one of only 64 standard, road-going F1s. It was offered with the tool chest, luggage set, handbooks and watch. It is powered by the S70/2 BMW, 6.1-litre V12 engine delivering 468 kW at 7 500 rpm. No wonder people are referring to the F1 as the next Ferrari 250 GTO in terms of its ever-increasing value.
1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix – $5,615 million – R83.6 million (new record for the model)
In terms of pre-war race cars, the Type 35 is one of Bugatti’s much loved models. Equipped with a 2.3-litre, in-line 8-cylinder engine with a supercharger (97 kW at 5 500 rpm), this specific car has works racing history and was the winner of the 1929 French and Spanish Grands Prix. Interestingly, it was also the cover star of Road & Track magazine in the November issue of 1951.
1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster – $3,085 million – R45.9 million
This is a prime example of “last off the line” cars achieving better values. Although the SL was introduced in 1957, improved features were offered for these cars in 1958. However, in 1962 a lightweight aluminium engine block was offered in the final 210 models built. In 1963 the final 26 were built, with the last six being made in the first week of February – and this is one of them. The 3.0-litre, inline six-cylinder offered 186 kW at 6 200 rpm, connected to a four-speed manual transmission.
1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato – $9.520 million – R141.8 million
RM Sotheby’s refer to this model as “the ultimate vintage Aston Martin, period.” They could be right. Only 19 of these cars were ever manufactured, and of those this is one of the six left-hand drive examples. Referred to as Aston Martin’s “GTO” (Ferrari’s 250 GTO), this car was tested by Aston Martin team driver Roy Salvadori at the BRSCC race held at Brands Hatch. Here it finished 1st in class and 2nd overall. It is fitted with 3.7-litre, in-line 6-cylinder engine, although it seems this capacity has been increased during an engine rebuild.
1995 Ferrari F50 - $3.965 million – R59 million
There were plenty of classic, and modern classic Ferraris at both auctions, but this F50 achieved an impressive result. Again, the limited number of only 349 that were produced plays a role as well as the fact that this is only one of 55 units that were originally delivered to the USA. It has also been owned by the original owner until 2018. It has been perfectly maintained and in 2017 it, for example, received a major service to the tune of $51 000. When it was sold in 2018 it had covered less than 8 500 miles since new.
Let’s remind ourselves that behind the cockpit is an F1-derived 4.7-litre V12 engine delivering 383 kW at 8 500 rpm.
A number of cars didn’t sell. These most notable included very valuable race cars such as a 1983 Porsche 956 Group C, a 1981 Ferrari 512 BB/LM and then one of the cars enthusiasts have been looking forward to most, the 1970 Porsche 917 K.