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A glut of World Records for RM Sotheby’s – but does that paint the full picture?

Buoyed by the strong prices achieved by the majority of its headline lots, the flagship RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey totaled an impressive 123.1m dollars – smashing the existing auction World Records for an English, American and pre-War car in the process…

A Brit abroad

In front of a teeming (temporary) saleroom at the Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, the Canadian auction house brought the hammer down on chassis XKD 501 at a touch-below-estimate 19.8m US dollars, after a tense 15-minute bidding war between four different collectors. That’s 21.78m dollars inclusive of fees, which comfortably surpasses the previous World Record for a British automobile held by an Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato at 14.3m dollars.

The most important American car of them all?

The sale of the very first Shelby Cobra – chassis CSX 2000 – was also momentous. Billed by RM as the most important American car of all (a contentious statement considering the first Le Mans-winning GT40 was less than five miles away on the concours lawn), the car garnered an impressive 13.75m dollars with premium, a new benchmark for an American automobile sold at auction. Also of note was the ex-Phil Hill Ferrari 750 Monza, which sold for 5.225m dollars – again, another World Record for the model. The following evening saw the Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Touring Spider gross 19.8m USD, felling the auction record for a pre-War car. Not all headliners fared as well, however: the 13.5m high bid for estimate-on-request, ex-Works Ferrari 268 SP failed to meet its (rather ambitious?) reserve, while a 9.4m dollar bid couldn’t secure the California Spider. Might things have been different had it not been the victim of a high-stakes Top Trumps battle with Gooding’s alloy N.A.R.T. car?

Preliminary data from Hagerty points towards an 85% sell-through rate, precisely the same as last year’s sale albeit with two-thirds as many cars in the catalogue. Early analysis suggests that rare breeds and ‘best of the best’ examples continue to generate interest – although in some cases, there still appears to be a discrepancy between buyers’ and sellers’ valuations. Witness the 5.72m dollar Ferrari TdF (estimate 7-9m) and the striking teal-coloured BMW 507, which brought 2.15m dollars against a heady estimate of 2.4 – 2.7m.

Photos courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

All the news from this year’s Monterey and Pebble Beach events can be found in our regularly updated overview.