Breaking Records at RM Sotheby's

On a certain Friday and Saturday night in central Monterey, California the auctioneer’s call is a clear sign that Car Week festivities are in full swing.  For as long as we can remember attending Car Week events, we've made it a point to loiter around central Monterey as the Portola Hotel and Spa hosts the RM Sotheby’s auction with cars and personalities around every entry and exit.  Even without an official ticket, onlookers can watch cars leave the auction block and make the short trek to the Portola Hotel and Spa parking garage for safe keeping. 

The events of Monterey Car Week provide the backdrop for the world’s premiere automotive auction houses to showcase the highest caliber of cars with stunning histories that command even more stunning auction prices.  Last year, the RM Sotheby’s auction broke the record for a British car at auction when a 1955 Jaguar D-Type sold for $21.78 million!

This year the record would be broken once more as RM Sotheby’s sold a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1, the first of five DBR1s.  This particular example won the 1959 Nurburgring 1000KM and was raced by such notables as Roy Salvadori, Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham and Carroll Shelby to name a few.  Stirling Moss entered the Nurburgring 1000KM with it and broke the lap record 16 times in what many have called his greatest ever drive.  The DBR1 would break the British car auction sales record with a final price of $22,555,000.

Car Week auctions always evoke oohs and ahhs of the spectators and even the seasoned pros like us (we're still grown children).  The preview area would have been more than adequate with the DBR1 as the center piece.  Yet, so much more was on offer to peruse and gawk at.  It was a corral of rare Ferraris, Jaguars, Bugattis and purpose built race cars.  If we have learned anything from our exploits at Car Week is to expect the unexpected.  Among those surprises was an up close look at the 1950 Ferrari 166 MM/212 Export "Uovo" also known as the "egg."

The Uovo was originally delivered to Umberto Marzotto, one of the famed Marzotto brothers who were key customers of the Scuderia.  The brothers owned twenty-something Ferraris and were two of Enzo Ferrari's earliest and most important customers.  This particular Ferrari was raced in several events including the Mille Miglia.  After a less than successful outing in the MIlle Miglia (they crashed out) the brothers had the car rebuilt at the Ferrari factory and then handed it over to Fontana of Padova and sculptor Franco Reggiani  to create a new streamlined body to increase performance.  The egg was born. The car was was raced in Italy and in several North American events include the Pebble Beach races.  On auction night the Uovo sold for $4,500,000.

Another notable Ferrari up for auction was the 1971 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona known as the "Harrah Hot Rod."  This Ferrari was owned by Bill Harrah the founder of Harrah's Hotel and Casinos.  Harrah was also known for his automobile collection and was a West Coast distributor for Ferrari through his Modern Classic Motors of Reno.  Prior to his passing in 1978, just about every great Ferrari model of the previous 20 years had passed through his hands.

The "Harrah Hot Rod" was not only a special Ferrari, of exquisite detail, but was the central character of a legendary story about Harrah.  Once he was approached by a salesman from Sikorsky Helicopters offering him a faster way to commute between Reno and Lake Tahoe. Harrah, more than willing to test which was faster, told the Sikorsky salesman that he would by a helicopter, but only if it could beat him driving his Ferrari between Harrah's the two casinos. Needless to say, he Daytona won the race averaging 146MPH along the way!  It sold for $687,500. 

If one is not a fan of classic and priceless historic cars, RM Sotheby's also auctions newer examples of modern classics.  Among the priceless Aston Martins and Ferraris was a 2014 Pagani Huayra Tempesta with only 640 miles on the odometer.  It was the first customer car delivered to North America, and the only example with the special finish known as Grgio Scuro Opaco.  It was also one of only 100 Huayra coupes built which makes it more rare than the LaFerrari, Porsche 918 Spyder or the McLaren P1.  Spotting the modern hypercar is rare in itself, but once you've seen a Huayra you will never forget when and where the sighting happened.  It is the equivalent of finding a spaceship in a cornfield with its otherworldly looks and rocket ship performance that one day could be proof to alien visitors that Earth has intelligent life.  It sold for $4,420,000.

RM Sotheby's offers much for the car collector or enthusiast to be excited about.  They also have some of the best auctioneers in the business who bring the perfect blend of grit and humor that will entertain even the bystander outside of the auction tent.  Since no one came here to read more words we offer these pretty pictures from the RM Sotheby's auction preview.



Car Week on a Budget: The View From the Cheap Seats

Car Week on a Budget: The View From the Cheap Seats

2017 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auctions

2017 Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auctions