Monterey this year was a three-day auction-block fireworks show, with 228 of 286 cars that crossed the block selling for a 79% rate and a sales total of just over $45 million. We'll have a complete report in next month's issue, but our first reaction is that while the overall sales rate was strong, a reflection of the buoyant American economy, nearly every car that sold fell within an expected price range. This wasn't 1988, with Aston dropheads going from $30,000 to $300,000 overnight, or 1989, with Daytonas zooming from $50,000 to $500,000 in a mindless orgy of buying and flipping.
There's a lot of new money coming into the collector car hobby, much from high-tech entrepreneurs and investment moguls who have made their millions and are now satisfying their automotive fantasies.
They're willing to pay strong prices for exceptional cars with provenance, like the Terry Cohn Alfa 8C 2900B that an SCM subscriber bought at the Christie's auction for over $4m, but only average prices for serial production cars, no matter how well restored they might be, as witness the immaculate 289 Cobra that RM got just $126,500 for.
There were a few typical "only in Monterey" oddball sales, led by the staggering $83,900 Christie's got for a near-new 1971 Mercedes 280SL that had covered just 3,900 miles, and followed closely by the $41,250 RM got for an SCM-subscriber-owned 1962 23-window VW Microbus. Just remember that these prices don't make your old 250SL beater that's been to the moon and back worth any more than the $12,500 you were offered last week.
OLD SMOKEY RECOVERS
There's good news on the SCM Ferrari front. Almost exactly one year after we yanked our 330 America out of the barn in Missoula, Montana, it's beginning to act like an actual running and driving car. The shocks are rebuilt, seats redone, a new fuel pump installed, an appropriately bad-boy, large tube, four-tipped exhaust fabricated and the dents in the alloy hood where someone had dribbled a basketball pulled out.
A special thanks goes to Rod Drew of FAI for sending us four auxiliary venturis to replace those we barbecued in a carburetor fire. The final stop on the 330's journey was the Jag Shop (503/731-9919), just blocks from our Portland home. There, Gerry Follett, formerly Ron Tonkin's personal vintage Ferrari technician, took the Ferrari under his wing.
"You don't have a valve guide problem, you've just got incredibly screwed-up carburetors," was his immediate diagnosis. A compression test found all twelve cylinders to be within the 150 - 175lb range, and after five hours of jet cleaning and adjusting, the Ferrari fires up on the first turn of the key and pulls like the vintage 300bhp monster it is. There's still some smoke under deceleration, but well within acceptable standards. Including the purchase price of $22,000, we've now got about $30,000 in the car, which seems reasonable enough.
If only a mouse hadn't died somewhere under the dash while the paint work was being done, filling the car with that special fragrance that only a decaying rodent can bring, the Ferrari would be our daily driver. But armed with a flashlight and respirator, we'll exhume the little corpse from its resting place in the ventilation system, and get on the road.
THE INSIDER'S TOUR IS BACK
It's just three months to the annual Barrett-Jackson collector car auction and life-style extravaganza. For the past two years, SCM has hosted an "Insider's Tour" at B-J, which features morning seminars from experts in a variety of fields including restoring, appraising, insuring and transporting classic cars, no-holds question and answer sessions about what really goes on at auctions, and of course the field-walk, where we examine cars at the auction that members of the tour might be interested in bidding on. On-site social activities including a welcoming cocktail party, hosted lunches and a Saturday-nite dinner.
Both our European correspondent Giuseppe Tomasetti and Porsche expert Jim Schrager are planning to join us. We sold out quickly last year; to be put on the list for information, call Cindy Banzer at 503-261-0555, fax 503-252-5854, email: cbanzer @sportscarmarket.com. We look forward to seeing you there.
BEATEN BY BUGATTI
It's Tazio Nuvolari in an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza that graces our cover this month. Painted by leading English artist Barry Rowe, Nuvolari's Monza is shown leading Varzi's Type 51 Bugatti in the 1933 Monaco Grand Prix. On the final lap, the Alfa suffered a mechanical malfunction, and Varzi was the winner, besting the entire four-Monza Scuderia Ferrari team.
Varzi set a lap record of 1 minute and 59 seconds, and became the first driver to break 2 minutes on the Monaco circuit. Another Monza in this race, S/N 2111032, was once owned by SCM contributor Keith Duly, and, having passed through a chain of owners including Obrist, Ecclestone and John McCaw, is now owned by Bruce McCaw and made an appearance at the Monterey Historic Races this year.
Barry Rowe grew up in the motor city of Coventy, within sight of the Jaguar factory, and was able to begin painting full time after winning the prestigious Sotheby's award. Rowe has been responsible for the 1998 and 1999 posters for the Pebble Beach Concours, and this is the third time SCM has featured his evocative work.
Just 500 25" x 17" prints have been made from this painting, and they are available for $150 from Steve Austin's Automobilia in Beaverton, Oregon. (800/452-8434, 503/643-8080, fax 503-643/1302).