17th August 2003 Christie's at Pebble Beach - Review

“Collectors bid enthusiastically for motor cars with exceptional ownership history as seen by the strong prices achieved for the 1967 Ferrari 365 Spyder California, the 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C-1750, and the 1952 Siata 400L” said Miles Morris, Head of Christie’s International Motor Cars. “One of the highlight moments of the auction was when Jay Leno introduced the very first customer delivery 2005 Ford GT, which sold to spontaneous applause for an incredible $557,500, more than three times its pre-sale estimate.”

The Ford GT price was certainly a surprise but in an auction that totalled $5,716,509 but it once again proves the power of the ‘Beach weekend in attracting the high-rollers to the auction ring. The 1967 Ferrari 365 Spyder California, at $634,500, was right on estimate and the biggest seller of the entire sale. Its stablemate in colour and styling notes, the 1964 Ferrari Superfast Series I, sadly did not sell, however the very yellow 1967 Ferrari 330GTC Coupé did, for $156,000, a good price for the concours car.

$447,500 was achieved by the 1931 Alfa Romeo Tipo 6C-1750 Supercharged Gran Sport Spyder, coachwork by Zagato, a beautiful example in a rich black that is gorgeously complemented by chrome or polished metal fittings. This car has been in the US for a time, being originally part of British pre-war driver Charlie Martin’s stable. All three top sellers were listed by Christie’s as going to private buyers. .

Going to the trade was the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, for $326,500. A particularly nice example in light metallic green with ‘SLR’ type tartan seats the car benefited from Rudge knock-off wheels and a tuned engine giving the car a nicely ‘meaty’ feel. They were, after all, extensively raced worldwide in the late 50s.

The vintage racing, although in seemingly smart condition, 1952 Siata 400L raised $337,500. With its all-independent suspension the very expensive cars of the Fifties were always fine-handling machines, and this one has been raced extensively at Monterey and even at the Mille Miglia retrospective in 1990. Rare and of fine lines in a nice (dark blue) colour, this obviously pushed all the right buttons for someone to buy a much nicer handling car than the equivalent Ferrari – at a significant discount.

Finally mention must be made of the prices achieved by a couple of Austin-Healeys. The 1959 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk I 2+2 Roadster, $52,875, the 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III Phase 2 Convertible, $64,625, were right on estimate and very good figures for examples of the marque - albeit in perfect condition.

Forty eight of the seventy four lots were sold, a percentage by lot of 65%. All the above prices include buyer’s premium.

For a full listing, see the Provisional Auction Results

Christie's next European sale is on 31st August at the Concours d'Elégance Paleis Het Loo, Holland. To see the complete entry of cars, with photographs, in the Classic Driver Cars for Sale Database please CLICK HERE .

Text - Steve Wakefield