2009's Top Ten Cars Sold at Auction
The top ten cars sold at auction in 2009 went for $12.2M on the high end, $3.1M on the low. That means there were at least ten people this year who responded to the town crier's screams of "Recession and Depression!" by saying, "Honey, did you hear what that man said? I couldn't make it out because I was busy smacking my lips all over these gold plated bon-bons. They're delicious. Here, try one..."
Not only was this a(nother) big year for auctions, in some ways it was the biggest year: the record for the highest car ever sold at auction was set at RM Auctions' Leggenda e Passione event in Maranello, Italy in May. If that's how buyers dealt with the sequel to The Great Depression, we have no doubt auctioneers are hoping for the same kind of discrete-consumption-is-the-new-black bidding next year. Follow on the for the full list...
Gallery: 1957 Ferrari 250 TR #0714TR
1. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa - Price: $12.2 million (€9,020,000), (RM Auctions - Maranello, Italy - May 17)
This car beat the previous record set by a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California of around $9.5 million (€7,040,000), just the year before at the same event. One of but 22 Sergio Scaglietti-designed, pontoon-fendered Testa Rossas, chassis number 0714TR was the fourth car built and the second customer car, delivered in the colors shown. Its first owner was privateer racer Piero Drogo, who raced it in Argentina, Cuba, and Portugal, and then became better known for his own coachbuilding exploits: it was Drogo who would build another iconic Ferrari, the 250 GT SWB Drogo, otherwise known as the "breadvan."
2. 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe - Price: $7.25 million (Mecum Auctions - Pebble Beach, CA - August 15)
The record for an American car sold at a public auction was also set this year ("Did you say gold-plated bon-bons? Yes, I'll have one, thank you...") by this 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe, chassis CSX2601. The winner not only got the car, but lessons from Bob Bondurant on how to drive it and technical advice from its designer, Peter Brock. The Bondurant-driven Shelby that won the 1965 World Manufacturers Championship -- hand-built in Italy, one of six built, and known simply as "The Championship Car" -- had failed to sell in May, then stormed into bidder's hearts determined to take another crown.
Gallery: 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe
3 - 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider - Price: $5,115,000 (Gooding & Co - Pebble Beach, CA - August 16)
The silver and black, Pininfarina-bodied Ferrari captured Best of Class at the 1999 Concours d'Elegance, then returned for its 10-year anniversary by capturing $5.1 million. The V12 runner was restored to like-new condition with a little age, came with an exceedingly rare-yet-unrestored hardtop, was deemed "hard but not impossible to fault," was FCM certified platinum, and still only took half the record for a SWB California (see #1). Which makes us think the record-setting car must have been powered by fairy juice and angel's feathers...
4 - 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider - Price: $4,950,000 (Gooding & Co - Scottsdale, AZ - January 17)
Ron Vankregten was an entrepreneur and real estate investor who began collecting cars, motorcycles, and planes in the 70s. This year his estate auctioned selections from Vankregten's private museum of vintage machinery, most of which hadn't been seen in more than 30 years, including this 250 GT SWB. The $4.6 million proffered for chassis 1963GT with matching numbers and factory-installed covered headlights, was the highest paid for any car during the entire week of auctions, the second-highest price paid at an individual auction in Arizona history, and thought to be the highest price paid for an unrestored car of its kind. Its owner will now lavish another, smaller, fortune on its restoration.
5 - 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante - Price: $4,408,575 (Bonham's - Paris, France - February 7)
The definition of "barn find," chassis 57502 was bought by Peer of the Realm and inaugural British Racing Driver's Club president Earl Howe, who was such a petrolhead that even his driveway was banked. The car, with numerous custom details requested by Howe, changed hands a few times then as bought by Dr. Harold Carr in 1955 for £895, or $2,520. He drove it a briefly then put it in a barn, where it proceeded to seize up and fall apart for more than fifty years. Bonham's cobbled the coupe back together and rolled it onto the auction platform, and successfully rolled it away for $4.4 million. Its owner will now lavish another, probably equal, fortune on its restoration.
Gallery: 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante
6 - 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 - Price: $4,180,000 (Gooding & Co - Pebble Beach, CA - August 16)
Italian coachbuilder Castagna designed the body for this 8C, chassis 2311214, which was a Best in Class winner at the Concours d'Elegance in 2008. Once tempted by its body, the winning bidder was carried away by its 1-rated condition, its engine rebuilt by renowned restorer Christopher Leydon, its insides stitched with blue, claret, and maroon leather, and its description as "above all reproach."
7 - 1937 Talbot-Lago T150C SS Teardrop Coupe - Price: $3,520,000 (Gooding & Co - Scottsdale, AZ - January 17)
Sport's Car Market says that it is unusual for cars of this kind to come to public auction, usually passing from one climate-controlled-garage to another through private treaty sales. This one surfaced for a waiting public, and did not disappoint. A mostly original 1937 Teardrop Coupe (also known as a "Goutte d'Eau") with coachwork by Italio-French coachbuilders Guiseppe Figoni & and Ovidio Falaschi, this one was in the the "New York Style" that debuted in 1937. Those versions were smaller, lighter, and more powerful car than the "Jeancart" versions set on the larger chassis and featuring notchback rear ends and two cat-eye windows. There were but 16 of the teardrop coupes made from 1936-1939, and they were noted for their engineering and race wins as much as their designs, having helped usher in the era of streamlined cars that were a reaction to the square-edged German and English racers of the time.
8 - 1935 Duesenberg SJ - Price: $3,300,000 (Gooding & Co - Pebble Beach, CA - August 16)
Winner of this year's Amelia Island Concours and one of 36 Bohman & Schwartz-penned Duesenbergs from 1935, its wing-shaped door handles and V-shaped radiator are details among a design acclaimed as their most successful for the company. This one was even more special for being a one-off designed by W. Everett Miller. And well it needed to be, because its original buyer and future owner would have no interest in the merely good or the 2-of-a-kind: chassis 2596 was first purchased by Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and given to her amour, Georgian Prince Serge M'Divani.
Gallery: 1935 Duesenberg SJ
9 - 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta (Tour de France) - Price: $3,176,250 (RM Auctions - Maranello, Italy - May 17)
The Scaglietti-designed 250 GT, chassis 0563GT, is eight out of nine Ferraris of its specific body style and was raced for two years by Jacques Peron, then shipped to America to become a private owner car. Its unofficial moniker, Tour de France, was bestowed on it by a Spanish nobleman, Marquis de Portago, who was a three-time amateur champion jockey, world-class swimmer, part of the Spanish bobsledding team in the 1956 Winter Olympics, and a winner in the car in the race of the same name. It remains a formidable dual-purpose road and race car, and although still eligible to race in events like the Mille Miglia Storica and Shell Ferrari Historic Challange we have a feeling the car and its anonymous winner won't be seen again for a while.
10 - 1913 Bugatti Type 18 - Price: $3,131,475 (Bonham's - Paris, France - February 7)
This Bugatti Type 18, chassis 474, christened "Black Bess" and offered at auction for the first time this year, is said to be "the most important Type 18 in existence." There are only three of its kind remaining of just seven built, and one is in a museum, one is privately owned -- all of which, along with its remarkably colorful history, might explain why it went for well above its pre-auction estimate. It was first owned by the French aviator Roland Garros, who would go on to lend his name to the tennis stadium that hosts the French Open. Shot down just before the end of WWI, Garros' car went to Swiss pilot Edmond Audemars (son of a watchmaker, but not that watchmaker), who then sold it to the chief engineer of the Sunbeam Motor Company, who then sold it to racing driver Miss Ivy Cummings, who named it Black Bess in honor of 18th century English highwayman Dick Turpin's horse. A side note: in honor of Garros, shot down just weeks before the end of WWI, Ettore Bugatti would name his last child Roland. And if all that isn't worth $3.1 million, well, we don't know what is...
Gallery: 1913 Bugatti Type 18 "Black Bess"