1953 Hudson Hornet

Lot 101, sold for $61,600 at RM’s Monterey Auction on August 17.

Is this the classic case of the first lot or last lot being the best deal of the night? Of course, Hudson Hornets in average condition with fair paint and somewhat tatty interiors are available for much less than this price — about 50% less, actually — but not one that was owned by Steve McQueen. This has to be one of the few McQueen cars not to have made massive headlines for selling for 10 times estimate during the past few years. I don’t think the McQueen craze has peaked just yet, either.

Perhaps it’s because the car wasn’t featured in the recent McQueen’s Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon, or because it was a rather pedestrian Hudson Hornet — or maybe it was because this was the first lot on a very busy two-day affair at RM that this buyer got a great deal.

Major auction houses have offered Hornets throughout this year, and perhaps this is a sign that they are now being more widely accepted by more collectors —or maybe the “Cars” movies have helped put them on the map with a generation of younger collectors.

Gooding’s 1952 Hudson Hornet, Lot 112 on August 19, brought $178,750. The car was completely restored and magnificent, and yes, an auction anomaly, and not a great buy like this one.

1987 Aston Martin V8 Volante

Lot 29, sold for $103,400 at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auction on August 18.

This car was very near and dear to me, as I sold this car last spring for considerably more money. I’ve known the car for years.

As far as V8 Volantes go, it ticks all of the boxes: low miles, documented ownership, 5-speed manual transmission, original paint and interior and a lot of recent service. The only knock is that it still possesses the rather dull U.S. federal bumpers, but that can easily be rectified if you so choose.

I don’t honestly think V8 Astons do particularly well in an auction environment, and this is not the first example to sell at a true wholesale number this year. I can’t say why these cars regularly change hands privately for more money, but this was a no-reserve sale with the estimate being $140,000 to $180,000.

The Aston Martin deal of the weekend award is given to this astute buyer.

1971 Mercedes Benz 280SE Cabriolet

1971 mercedes_280se

Lot 496, sold for $131,500 at Bonhams’ Quail Lodge Sale on August 17.

More than one classic-car dealer lamented about not being the high bidder on this car. That’s a good sign for the end bidder here. Overall, this auction, in my view, was sparsely attended, and a great many lots did not sell. Opportunities can knock if the room is quiet.

This Mercedes seemed to be a proper, straight example with a solid catalog story.

It seems a large percentage of 1971 280SEs were painted Tobacco Brown, and this is always a discount in the eyes of most buyers, but a great 280SE Cabriolet is over $225k, and ratty drivers can be $100k, so this car looked like an opportunity. I think this was $25k light on the sale price.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings

1955 mercedes 300sl_gullwing 1955 mercmenz_30SL_gullwing

Lot 3, sold for $638,000, and Lot 151, sold for $1,127,500, at the Gooding & Company Pebble Beach Auction on August 18 and 19.

Two deals, two different examples, two nights and two happy buyers.

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwings are some of the most sought-after cars on the face of the earth, and they are hot auction property. Because the market is so fluid and dynamic, they are in constant demand whether in concours or barn-find condition — and everywhere in between.

Lot 3, $638k was a car that you could take to local shows or enjoy on touring events. It is also the solid basis for a car that could be brought up to a much higher standard without leaving the new owner underwater. There are many similar cars offered for $695k–$795k privately today. When can you buy something where there is room for upside after $300k is spent on it? This was that car.

Lot 151, $1.1m, was not a deal by more than 5% or 10% for the new owner. This is at today’s upper-end pricing, but it was restored by all of the right people, is a great color combination and will save you the two to four years of getting in line and having one fully restored by those same folks. The car’s restorer and auction handler was a little disappointed in the result, and I agree with him that this was a few bids below top dollar. Still, this is an amazing result, as it was almost the very last sale of the entire weekend.

1957 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spyder Prototype

1957 ferrari_250gt

{auto}3032{/auto}Lot 137, sold for $6,600,000 at Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach Auction on August 19.

$6.6m is a bargain price? You bet it is. California Spyders are in the upper echelon of all Ferrari collectible cars. Without this car — the very first one — the others don’t exist. This was the design that kicked the door down.
Two Cal Spyders sold for much more money over this weekend, and I honestly view this car as the deal of the month across the board over every auction, albeit for a very well-heeled buyer and not one of the other 99.9% of the people on the Peninsula.

This car was the prototype, the only example built in 1957 and on a TdF chassis, the brochure car, complete with a very unique and beautiful one-off rear fender line and is the first covered headlamp car. What more is there? And if a California Spyder isn’t enough, this one is one-off. I would rate this along with the alloy competition car examples as best of the best — and that’s that. ♦