2010's Top Ten Cars Sold at Auction
The industrialist hordes lifting placards to bid this year's vintage machinery were not victim to the paroxysms of 2009, when a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa went for $12.2 million and a 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe was swept away for $7.25 mil. None of the top ten trophies in this year's vintage bazaar provoked such financial spikes, yet the decline from first place to tenth was much more gradual: the sum of 2009's offerings was $51.22 million, while 2010 racked up $50.54 million.
That isn't to say the year lacked any monumental spasms: a 1957 Bugatti Type 57C Atlantic "changed hands," to use the clinical parlance of tycoons, for somewhere between $30 and $40 million. That, however, was a private treaty sale handled by Gooding & Company, not an auction result.
Ferrari made another top showing among the perp-walk of pageant winners, with prices spanning $7.26 million for a Ferrari to €2.8 million for a... Ferrari. But Jaguar, Aston Martin, Mercedes and Talbot Lago were also on the list of what ended up being a very beautiful party...
Gallery: Top 10 Cars at Auction - 2010
1. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione (#1603GT) - Price: $7.26 million (Gooding & Co - Pebble Beach - August 14-15)
Considered the most significant long-wheelbase California Spider out of just 12 short- and long-wheelbase versions ever built, it fetched a world record price for an LWB California Spider at auction. Notably, this example is the only LWB California to feature an alloy body instead of steel, covered headlights, disc brakes, 262-horsepower Tipo 168 competition engine, outside tank filler and a long-range fuel tank, and velocity stacks. Restored in 1984 by Motion Products and certified by Ferrari Classiche, it was finished in its original racing livery - the same colors in which it finished 5th overall and second-in-class at the 1960 12 Hours of Sebring, and 3rd overall at the 1960 Nassau TT. (Images © Pavel Litwinski / Gooding & Co)
2. 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza Brianza Spider (#2311218) - Price: $6.71 million (Gooding & Co - Pebble Beach, August 14-15)
In three years, from 1931 to 1933 only 188 of the Vittorio Jano-designed Alfa Romeo 8C 2300s were built, and they proved such capable racers that when two of them took first and second at the 1931 Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the company added "Monza" to the car's name. This, an Oxblood Red third-series example built at the factory with coachwork by Italian carrozzeria Brianza, is considered one of the most significant pre-war sports racing cars: it won the 1947 Italian Sports Car Championship and competed at San Remo, Gran Prix of Bari, Circuito di Senigallia, Circuito di Modena and Circuito di Voghera. Its championship pedigree and unbroken ownership history since new, as well as a heap of spare parts that included cylinder blocks from the supercharged straight-eight, helped it garner a world record price for an Alfa Romeo at auction. (Images © Pavel Litwinski / Gooding & Co)
Gallery: 1933 AlfaRomeo 8C 2300 Monza
3. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta SEFAC Hot Rod (#2845) - Price: $6.11 million (Gooding & Co - Pebble Beach, August 14-15)
Pininfarina called the 250 GT SWB Berlinetta "The first of our three quantum leaps in design with Ferrari." Count Giovanni Volpi, the son of the founder of the Venice Film Festival, was one of Ferrari's best customers and bought this for his Scuderia Serenissima Repubblica racing team. After a racing history that includes the Tour de France, 1000 KM de Paris, Daytona 3-hour Continental, Italian hill climbs and vintage races in Germany, it underwent a two-year restoration by Ferrari. The SEFAC Hot Rod - SEFAC being Ferrari's team name - also known as the Comp/61, is the ultimate evolution of the SWB Berlinetta and just 20 of the 300-horsepower competitors were made. It would be followed by the even more coveted 250 GTO, which Enzo Ferrari would later refuse to sell to Volpi. (Images © Pavel Litwinski / Gooding & Co)
4. 1937 BMW 328 MM 'Buegelfalte' (#85032) - Price: $5.84 million* (RM Auctions - Sporting Classics of Monaco, May 1)
Do not let the silver sheen fool you, this 130-horsepower 1928 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Buegefalte could be the most colorful car in the lot. Another one-of-a-kind, this started life as a standard-bodied 328, but two years later was dismantled and then reengineered by BMW's racing arm as a wind-tunnel-tested aero streamliner for a factory run at the 1940 Mille Miglia. Wilhelm Kaiser designed the aluminum and magnesium bodywork that earned the Buegefalte moniker: the term means "trouser crease," and it describes the creases on the tops of the fenders. One of three streamline roadsters, this is the only one fully built at the factory, the other two getting their bodywork completed in Italy at Touring of Milano.
After finishing sixth in the 1940 Mille Miglia, it did WWII duty in the service of Albert Speer, the Nazi minister of armaments and munitions. When the war ended it was included in the reparations package to the Russians, and the politburo heads gifted it to Artiom Ivanovich Mikoyan, head of the Mikoyan i Gurevich Design Bureau and eponymous creator of MiG miltiary planes. He then regifted it to his son, who was so exuberant behind the wheel that the father eventually traded it to Guido Adamson of Riga, Latvia in 1972 in return for - get this - a brand new Lada. It was bought from Mr. Adamson in 2001 and driven from Riga to the BMW Museum in Munich, where they built a copy of the car that is now displayed there.
Finally up for sale this year, the asterisk is because it wasn't actually exchanged under the gavel. The bidding price got as high as $5.84 million, but the car actually changed hands the follow day by private treaty sale for what we assume is an even greater amount. (Images © Peter Raider/RM Auctions)
Gallery: 1937 BMW 328 Mille Miglia Buegefalte
5. 1938 Talbot-Lago T150 Competition Lago Speciale Teardrop Coupe (#90034) - Price $4.62 million (RM Auctions, Sport & Classics of Monterey - August 14)
Only the second time this coupe has been offered for public sale since 1981, this 140-horsepower Talbot-Lago was originally commissioned by French Banker Antoine Schumann. The T150-C chassis is perhaps the finest of Anthony Lagos creations, and this model represenents the only extant long-wheelbase Lago Speciale Teardrop Coupe. Having been based on a race car, it featured innovations like a punched handbrake, higher compression ratio engine and twin braking system, and won its class at the 1948 24 Hours of Spa. The 'Bankers Only, Please' price tag of 165,000 francs was in no small part due to having bodywork designed by the "exuberant coachwork" of Joseph Figoni and Ovidio Falaschi, and its 2010 auction price of $4.62 million was in no small part due to this being the sole competition teardrop coupe to sit on the extended Lago Speciale chassis. (Images © Darin Schnabel/RM Auctions)
6. 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta (#0416AM) - Price $4.62 (RM Auctions - Sport & Classics of Monterey, August 14)
Described as "a Ferrari that was not for the faint of heart," this roadgoing 375 MM sports a detuned 340-horsepower, 4.5-liter all-alloy V12 that served in more aggressive guise in the 375 MM Ferrari race cars. This one was one of but seven coupes to get the 4.5-liter engine, and finished in an exterior hue called Max Meyer light gray with brown leather interior it is further specialized by having seats that adjust fore-and-aft and side-to-side, as well as lacking items like rear intakes and bumperettes. Although not too far from its racing car parent, it never competed, instead being used for more sybaritic pursuits: it left the dealership in Rome and headed straight for the movies, taking a role in La Fortuna di Essere Donna with Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. (Images © Fluid Images/RM Auctions)
Gallery: 1954 Ferrari 375 MM Berlinetta
7. 1964 Aston Martin DB5 (#FMP 7B) - Price £2.91 million / $4.1 million (RM Auctions - Automobiles of London, October 27)
The 1937 BMW 328 Buegefalte at #4 might be the most colorful, but this one is the most famous and by far has the most fascinating accessories: the Silver Brich, 282-horsepower 1964 Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean connery in Goldfinger and Thunderball. There were ultimately four of these built: this car, which was actually the road car in the movie; an effects car with all of the gadgets that was too cumbersome to drive; and two press cars that were built after the movies to do promotional duty. Of the two press cars, one is in the Dutch National Motor Museum and one was sold at RM Auctions' Arizona sale in January 2006. Of the two movie cars, the effects car was reported stolen in 1997 and thought to have been destroyed. This one is the only known remaining of the two DB5s which appeared on-screen in Goldfinger and Thunderball, and was retrofitted with all the gadgets from the effects car when Thunderball was finished filming.
In 1969 the car was bought by Philadelphian Jerry Lee from the factory for $12,000 and it's been shown in public just three times since - the final UK promo being an event at the Playboy Club in London. Offered for public sale for the first time, all of its gadgets still "work," including the the revolving number plates, Browning machine guns, extending bumpers, and Martin-Baker fighter jet ejector seat triggered by the red button under the gear lever knob. The winning bidder also won a £30,000 suit from Gieves & Hawkes made of Dormeiul 'Vanquish II' fabric interwoven with solid gold thread, and a £40,000 trip for ten to the GoldenEye Hotel & Resort in Jamaica on the estate where every James Bond novel was written. (Images © shooterz.com/RM Auctions)
8. 1956 Jaguar D-Type Sports Racer (#XKD528) - Price: $3.74 million (Gooding & Company - Scottsdale Auctions, January 22-23)
This 1956 Jaguar D-Type ran up and down the length of California, getting podiums from Pomona to Monterey under the guidance of drivers like Pearce Woods, Bobby Unser, Ken Miles and Carlyle Blackwell. In 1956 it did 0-to-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and got to 162 mph, and this was before Blackwell added a Le Mans fin and uprated the engine to 300 horsepower. In that latter guise, with Blackwell and Miles at the wheel, it won the Pomona Six-Hour Enduro that gave the model the last big win for a D-Type in the US. After having been painted bumblebee yellow and bright red, it was also restored to its original cream-over-blue condition and was one of just three cars to beat the million-dollar mark at Gooding's Scottsdale Auctions. (Images © Pavel Litwinski / Gooding & Co)
Gallery: 1956 Jaguar D Type Sports Racer
9. 1927 Mercedes-Benz S Boattail Speedster (#26/180) - Price: $3.74 million (Gooding & Company - Pebble Beach, August 14-15)
Along with the Bond DB5 and Ferrari 375 MM, this aluminum-bodied Boattail Speedster with Murphy-designed bodywork is another movie car: owned by Chico and Zeppo Marx, it was in the film Sylvia Scarlett with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in 1935. At auction for the first time and still sporting its yellow and black California license plates from the fifties, it also played another role: costing Zeppo Marx $10,000. Marx had bet Hollywood agent Phil Berg that his Mercedes could beat Berg's Duesenberg J in a race across the Muroc dry lake bed east of Los Angeles. Called the Muroc Match Race, the Duesenberg left the Mercedes in clouds of dust in front of more than a thousand spectators come up from Hollywood, and Marx, we assume, later made it rain for Berg - but probably in private. (Images © Pavel Litwinski / Gooding & Co)
10. 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Cabriolet Pininfarina SWB (#3309 SA) - Price: €2.8 million / $3.7 million (RM Auctions, Sporting Classics of Monaco - May 1)
Nine years into Ferrari's move to grand tourers, the 400 Superamerica (SA) marked a shift from the 342/375/410 line. It used a smaller-displacement V12 of 4.0 liters, but still got 340 horsepower and roared to sixty miles per hour in less than seven seconds, and as the top of the range sold "for prices which sent chills up the spines of even Rolls-Royce owners." This example is a more exclusive short-wheelbase version from the first series of 400 SAs, with further rarity being that it is one of the six convertibles, the final distinctions being that this is the last SWB convertible 400 SA ever made and the only one with covered headlights. It was the 'star car' at the 1962 Geneva and New York motor shows, with plenty of extra brightwork for the lights. It's first buyer, however, covered all of its shine in crust: Arizon Ferrari dealer J. A. Stallings took the 400 SA to the Bonneville Salt Flats and registered speeds in excess of 145 mph. (Images © Jack Brady/RM Auctions)