Arizona’s Collector Car Week draws buyers and sellers out west
In the chill of a British winter, the January round of auctions around Phoenix and Scottsdale in Arizona always seems a tempting prospect whether or not you need another classic car. Yet busy as it was, two major cars didn’t sell.
Headlining Gooding & Co’s portfolio was the bright red Jaguar D-type once campaigned by Peter Blond and later Jean Bloxham (right). A fine race history, yet it didn’t move – somewhat like 1955 when Bernie Ecclestone took the unwanted car off a dealer’s hands and sold it on for £3500. At the same sale a pretty 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial spider, a guaranteed entry to any historic race meet, hit $4.45m, yet a road-going 275 GTB merited a remarkable $8m. Mind you, it was Pininfarina’s own car.
Away from Ferraris, the Lexus LFA Nürburgring was knocked down for $825,000 and a 1965 Lamborghini 350GT, the firm’s first production car, made $737,000, down on its estimate of $825k. Considering it was aimed at snatching Maranello’s crown, these fine V12 GTs remain a long way behind in buyers’ eyes.
As SUVs take over the world maybe investors should eye up older examples. Early Range Rovers are rising – Gooding’s example made $68,000 – but who would have thought a 1967 Toyota Land Cruiser merited a five-year restoration? Yet here was one which scooped $154,000 (right). Perhaps a new collector area.
Russo & Steele worked through a remarkable 800 cars, including a 1964 Cheetah (centre), which with its Chevy V8 was claimed to be a Cobra killer. Raced on both circuits and drag strips, this one is restored to an amazing level beyond its far from high-quality origins, which helped it to $660,000.
Bonhams’ list had a Porsche as top seller, not a Ferrari. One of 40 550A racers constructed, this one was a works entry that Carel Godin de Beaufort steered to a superb and unexpected fifth at Le Mans in 1958. It also contested the Dutch Grand Prix. With a complete and continuous history, it recouped $5.17m. Next top scorer did come from Maranello, though – a 1972 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider on $1.9m.
The same week, RM Sotheby’s also featured a D-type, this time the very famous works car OKV2. With Le Mans, Reims and Dundrod under its Dunlops in 1954, this is a foundation of the Jaguar story, yet no one was prepared to meet its $12-15m estimate. Instead it was one of the American greats, a Cobra 427 S/C (top), which headed the firm’s list. The semi-competition car, never raced but recently restored, had four owners from new and hit $2.94m, substantially exceeding its estimate.
Meanwhile the oldest living Alfa Romeo, the 1921 G1, made $445,000 – a surprising comparison with the Boano-bodied 1900C SS which sold at £1.2m.
At Barratt-Jackson, one of the houses now streaming its sales live, Carroll Shelby’s own Shelby Mustang GT350 went to a new home at $253,000, one of the rare Belgian-built twin-grille Porsche 356B roadsters achieved $165,000, and a Lamborghini tractor made $40,000. RM Sotheby’s also sold a Porsche tractor – is this a trend?
Further ahead, the Amelia Island concours in early March forms the next major rendezvous, where RM Sotheby’s has a very single-minded collection for sale – 11 Porsche 964s, including all specials of the model.
RM Sotheby’s says that despite “challenging market conditions”, last year it turned over $526m, including many new clients. Clearly some around the world are less challenged than others, though it seems the rush of investment-only buyers is easing, resulting in a drop off in the £100,000-plus area.
THE EXPERT: TIM SCHOFIELD
Director, Bonhams Motor Cars
We had a pretty good sale in Scottsdale so the market remains buoyant. A once-in-a-generation car will find a buyer, as long as it has a realistic estimate, but it’s not like 2013-14; it’s much less likely you’ll find new buyers going beyond estimate. People who bought three years ago expecting a 20 per cent increase, as often as not that’s not going to be the case. If one looks at the five-fold increase in say a DB4, 5, or 6 – well, they’re not making any more of them. But the potential for us as auctioneers is also five times what it was, hence ever more glamorous locations, lavish catalogues, videos – it’s become what clients expect, though you aren’t seeing any dry ice as some people used to do!