20 Collector Cars Sold for $180 Million in 2017

© Rod HatfieldSales Strong in 2017
Collector car sales at public auctions in North America remained strong in 2017, with total sales of $1.28 billion and a sale price of $4.5 million needed to crack the top 20 highest priced cars. “Although gross numbers fell by 2 percent to $1.28 billion, fewer cars were offered and the average sale price was up by 2 percent,” said Brian Rabold, vice president of valuation at Hagerty, publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide and the world’s largest insurer of collector vehicles. Auction sales hit a record high of $1.45 billion in 2015 before dropping off in 2016, although average sale prices have continued to increase.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content ExperiencePrices Increasing
According to Hagerty, more expensive cars are once again on the rise, with cars in the $50,000 to $100,000 range increasing in value by 5 percent in 2017, and the $100,000 to $500,000 range recorded average gains of nearly 1 percent. Hagerty’s liquidity index, which is closely correlated to the collector car market, is up 6 percent since last year. According to Hagerty, this suggests that the average sale price could grow by as much as 10 percent in 2018. Impressive indeed. Let’s look at the Top 20 cars sold at auction in North America in 2017.

© Rod Hatfield20. 1950 Ferrari 166 MM/212 Export “Uovo” by Fontana
Selling Price: $4,510,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey
Successful gentleman racers in Italy, the four Marzotto brothers were some of Ferrari’s best customers in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Of the more than 20 cars that the brothers owned, this is one of the most significant. It raced in the 1950 Targa Florio and then the Mille Miglia, where it crashed and returned to Ferrari for repairs. In search of a competitive advantage, Fontana of Padova and sculptor Franco Reggiani designed a streamlined body, nicknamed “Uovo” (“egg” in Italian). At the 1951 Mille Miglia, the Uovo was a crowd favorite and held a large lead before it retired with tire problems. In 1952 the car ran in the top 10 at the Mille Miglia before retiring, and was later sold and ran in races in California during 1954.

© Bonhams19. 1928 Mercedes-Benz Typ S 26/120/180 Supercharged Sports Tourer
Selling Price: $4,812,500
Auction: Bonhams, The Scottsdale Auction
The Mercedes-Benz Typ S was created shortly after the merger of Daimler and Benz at the time when Ferdinand Porsche was chief engineer. The top performance car of its day, the Typ S features a low-slung double-drop chassis, and is powered by a 6.8-liter inline 6-cylinder engine with two carburetors and a Roots supercharger. The supercharger is “on demand” and only comes on when the accelerator is fully engaged, boasting power from 120 to 180 horses. Mercedes debuted the Typ S at the Nurburgring in 1927, where Rudolf Caracciola took a class win. In America, Ralph de Palma drove the Typ S to victories in the 15- and 30-mile races at Atlantic City, with an average speed of 80 mph. This 1928 Type S was commissioned in February 1928 and shipped to Berlin to be completed with coachwork by Erdmann and Rossi. With a price of more than $7,000 without coachwork, Mercedes struggled with sales as the Depression set in, and only 174 of these cars were built between 1927 and 1930.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience18. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet
Selling Price: $4,840,000
Auction: Gooding and Co. Pebble Beach
Ferrari produced forty 250 GT Series I Cabriolets between 1956 and 1959, and this chassis number 1475 GT is the last one. Pinin Farina assembled all 250 GT Series I Cabriolets to maintain a high level of quality and to accommodate specific requests from the original owners, so each of the 40 cars has a unique combination of mechanical, interior and exterior details. The Series I Cabriolet was the most expensive 250 at the time, priced at $14,950 — $3,000 more than the Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider with body by Scaglietti sold during the same period. This late-model Series I is one of only four Cabriolets built with open headlights, and one of only two with tall vertical taillights also used on the Series II Cabriolet.

Ryan Merrill © 2017 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s17. 1952 Jaguar C-Type Roadster
Selling Price: $5,285,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s 12/6/17
A new racing model based on the Jaguar XK 120, the C-Type was initially known as the XK 120 C and later became the C-Type. The aerodynamic body, designed by Malcolm Sayers, sits on a lightweight tubular space frame. The 3.4-liter engine received a new cylinder head, high-lift cams, racing pistons and an un-muffled dual-exhaust system to produce 200 horsepower. Three factory C-Types debuted at Le Mans in 1951, and the car driven by Peter Walker and Peter Whitehead became the first British entry to win Le Mans in almost 20 years. Purported to be the first C-Type to reach the United States, XKC 007 made its racing debut at Elkhart Lake in September 1952, driven by legendary Formula One World Champion Phil Hill. According to his son Derek, Hill drove the car from California to Wisconsin for the race, where he won the Sheldon Cup for the race victory before driving back to California. The senior Hill raced the car five times in 1952, achieving two overall wins and one class victory.

© Rod Hatfield16. 1959 Ferrari 410 Superamerica Series III Coupe by Pinin Farina
Selling Price: $5,335,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey
Enzo Ferrari created exclusive grand touring cars for his wealthy clientele, and the 410 Superamerica was one of those exclusive models — essentially a coachbuilt car of the time. This example, chassis number 1305 SA, was completed in May 1959 — the 25th 410 Superamerica built, and the fourth of only a dozen Series III models. Special features exclusive to chassis 1305 SA are the competition-style covered headlights, a unique rear fender design and unique taillights. The Series III 410 Superamericas are powered by 400-horsepower 4.9-liter Lampredi V12 engine, and this car still has its original numbers-matching engine, original gearbox and rear axle. First sold in Geneva, Superamerica 1305 SA had a series of owners before being sold to John Hajduk of Chicago in 1976. Hajduk’s Motorkraft of Bensenville, Illinois, completed a full restoration in dark British Racing Green with yellow striping — the same colors seen today.

Copyright and courtesy Gooding and Company. Photo by Mathieu Heurtault.15. 1998 Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion
Selling Price: $5,665,000
Auction: Gooding and Co. Amelia Island
A street-legal version of the Le Mans-winning Porsche 911 GT1, this Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion is one of only 20 examples built. Finished in Arctic Silver with a black interior, this car has been in a private collection and driven less than 8,000 kilometers since new. The 911 GT1 is powered by a 3.2-liter flat 6-cylinder engine with Bosch Motronic M5.2 fuel injection and twin KKK turbochargers producing 544 horsepower, delivered through a 6-speed manual transaxle with a limited-slip differential. A Porsche factory race car for the street, the 911 GT1 also features 4-wheel ventilated and cross-drilled Brembo brakes as well as adjustable coil springs, shocks and stabilizer bars.

© Rod Hatfield14. 1955 Ferrari 121 LM Spider
Selling Price: $5,720,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey
One of only four 121 LM Spiders built by Ferrari, the 121 is powered by a 360-horsepower 4.4-liter inline 6-cylinder engine — part of a series of straight-six cars that evolved from Ferrari’s earlier 4-cylinder cars. Originally built as a 118 LM, chassis number 0546 LM first raced in the 1955 Mille Miglia, where it crashed when a tire blew at 174 mph. It returned to the factory for repairs and received upgrades to make it a 121 LM, then raced as one of three 121 LM entries at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1956 chassis number 0546 crashed during the Del Monte Trophy race at Pebble Beach killing driver Ernie McAfee, resulting in a racing ban at Pebble Beach and the eventual creation of a nearby racetrack called Laguna Seca.

© Bonhams13. 1952 Ferrari 340 America Spider Competizione
Selling Price: $6,380,000
Auction: Bonhams The Scottsdale Auction
In August 1950, Ferrari announced plans for a 4.1-liter V12-engined car that debuted at the 1950 Paris Motor Show, called the 340 America. Because of the success of Allard cars powered by Cadillac and Chrysler engines in SCCA racing in the U.S., Ferrari decided to target the U.S. market with a premium large-bore sports car. The 340 America was the first premium supercar that Ferrari marketed specifically to the U.S. Only 22 examples were ever built, offered with either open or closed coachwork from Touring and Vignale, as well as a Coupe from Ghia. Designated by serial number as competition cars, eight were finished as well-appointed road models. Of the 14 sport versions, only three were equipped as Competizione with dual-sprung rear suspension and higher-output engines. The car offered in Scottsdale is one of the three Competizione versions and the second of four Spiders built by Vignale. It was campaigned by Scuderia Ferrari at the 1952 Mille Miglia, driven by Piero Taruffi and Mario Vandelli, and was leading the race when a hard landing damaged the transmission and forced retirement from the race. The car continued to race as a factory entry until 1954 when it was rebodied by Vignale as a one-off coupe. In June 1999, the 340 America was purchased by collector Lord Bamford who commissioned a complete restoration to the original Vignale bodywork and entered the car in the Mille Miglia Storico historic race in 2001. Since that time the car has raced in significant historic races around the world and was sold in 2008 by Bamford and purchased by the consignor in 2011.

Pawel Litwinski © 2013 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s12. 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster
Selling Price: $6,600,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Arizona
Given the success of the 500K after the Great Depression, Mercedes-Benz continued to pursue the pinnacle of performance and luxury with the 540K, and the ultimate example is the Special Roadster. Built on a 129.5-inch wheelbase at more than 17.5 feet in length, the 540K Special Roadster features a majestic body design from Hermann Ahrens and Sindelfingen; only 25 Special Roadsters were built of the 419 540K chassis produced. A one-off design commissioned by Rolf Horn of Berlin, chassis number 408383 is powered by a 115/180 horsepower supercharged inline 8-cylinder engine combined with a rare 5-speed manual transmission. Weighing in at nearly 3 tons, the 540K Special Roadster features 4-wheel independent coil-spring suspension, 4-wheel hydraulic drum brakes and an 85-mph cruising speed on the Autobahn. Chassis number 408383 is believed to be the latest known surviving Special Roadster, and may have even been the last one built.

© Rod Hatfield11. 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Prototype Coupe
Selling Price: $6,765,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey
Even before Aston Martin officially announced the DB4 in September 1958, Design Project 199 was already underway to create a lightweight racing version of the new street car. Known as DP199/1, the Aston Martin DB4GT Prototype was shortened behind the front seats by literally cutting an early DB4 in half, shortening the doors and bringing the wheelbase down to 93 inches. With two seats and luggage space in the rear, the DB4GT’s doors are lightweight aluminum and the entire body is lighter 18-gauge aluminum alloy. The engine has a twin-plug cylinder head, triple 45 DCOE Weber carburetors, a higher compression ratio, larger valves and revised camshafts. The DB4GT Prototype tested at Le Mans in April 1959, with its first public showing in May at the Silverstone race circuit in England, when Sir Stirling Moss qualified the car in pole position, won the race and set a lap record to boot.

© Bonhams10. 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Competition
Selling Price: $7,370,000
Auction: Bonhams The Scottsdale Auction
Following the racing success of the D-Type, Jaguar began producing a version of the new E-Type for racers even before the production E-Type debuted. Jaguar developed the E-Type Lightweight to compete with the new Ferrari 250 GTO, featuring an aluminum alloy body, a more aerodynamic aluminum hardtop, an aerodynamic tail and trailing exhaust vents. Its 3.8-liter inline 6-cylinder engine received Lucas fuel injection and produced 293 horsepower, combined with a 4-speed close-ratio transmission, revised suspension and other competition parts. The first two E-Type Lightweights were completed for the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1963 for racers Briggs Cunningham and Kjell Qvale, who finished eighth and seventh, respectively. At Le Mans in June, Cunningham entered three E-Type Lightweights with factory support; one car finished ninth overall and second in class. Chassis no. S850667 was the tenth of twelve Lightweights produced, and was delivered to Australian racer Robert “Bob” Jane with extensive additional racing modifications. Jane raced S850667 extensively in Australia and Europe, including winning the 1963 Australian GT Championship.

Pawel Litwinski © 2017 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s9. 2001 Ferrari F2001
Selling Price: $7,504,000
Auction: Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale
Michael Schumacher’s 2001 Monaco Grand Prix, Driver’s Championship and Constructor’s Championship-winning Ferrari F2001 Formula One car sold at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale in Manhattan on November 16, 2017. A result of the partnership between RM and Sotheby’s, it was the first time an automobile was ever offered in a Sotheby’s art auction, and the first time Ferrari F2001 chassis number 211 was offered for public sale. Purchased by a private collector over the phone, the final price of $7,504,000 was a new record for a modern-era Formula One car at auction. The previous auction record for a modern-era Formula One car was $3,198,500 for a Michael Schumacher-driven Ferrari F2004, which sold at Sotheby’s Maranello sale in 2005. A portion of the proceeds from the F2001 sale will be donated by the previous owner to Michael Schumacher’s Keep Fighting Foundation.

Darin Schnabel © 2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s8. 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet
Selling Price: $7,700,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s 3/11/17
At the Paris Auto Salon in October 1963, Bugatti introduced the second series of the Type 57, including two sport versions, the 57C and 57S. While the Type 57C features a supercharged engine, the 57S is a more serious sport version with a redesigned chassis that is both shorter and lower, an articulated front axle, semi-elliptical front leaf springs, and quarter-elliptical rear leaf springs. The rear axle passes through the frame to lower the car. The specially-tuned 3.3-liter inline 8-cylinder engine with updraft carburetor produces 170 horsepower, mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. Only 42 Type 57S chassis were built, and chassis number 57513 is one of only four Type 57S Cabriolets produced by Vanvooren.

© Bonhams7. 1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Roadster
Selling Price: $8,000,000
Auction: Bonhams Quail Lodge
To compete with Ferrari’s 250 GTO, Jaguar began development of a lightweight, more aerodynamic racing version of the E-Type; the first of just 12 cars rolled out in October 1962. Two lightweight E-Types entered the 12 Hours of Sebring in March 1963; Ed Leslie and Frank Morrill placing 7th overall and first in class for owner Kjell Qvale, and Bruce McLaren and Walt Hansgen finishing 8th overall and second in class for owner Briggs Cunningham. At Le Mans in June 1963, three E-Type Lightweights took to the track, with Bob Grossman and Cunningham finishing 9th overall and second in class. Chassis number S850664 was the seventh Lightweight built, and the second of three cars sold to Briggs Cunningham; it qualified 14th at Le Mans but retired after just one hour. Later in the race, the car of Grossman and Cunningham had a minor crash; race mechanics cut off part of the hood of S850664 to repair the Grossman / Cunningham car. After a few races in the U.S., the car went into Cunningham’s museum.

© Rod Hatfield6. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe
Sale Price: $8,305,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey
A highly-desirable model among Ferrari collectors, Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe chassis number 2985 GT is the 110th of 167 built, and one of approximately 90 Lusso versions. Noted Ferrari experts Charles Betz and Fred Peters owned this example for almost 40 years, and in September 2008 Ferrari Classiche Red Book authentication confirmed that the car still has all its original major mechanical components. After sale of the car, Betz and Peters oversaw restoration of 2985 GT and it won a Platinum Award at the Cavallino Classic in January 2016.

© Brian Traylor5. 1970 Porsche 917K Race Car
Selling Price: $14,080,000
Auction: Gooding and Co. Pebble Beach
Designed to conform to new regulations and compete for the overall win at Le Mans, the Porsche 917 debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1969, and in April twenty-five completed cars underwent inspection to satisfy production requirements. Previously respected as a class winner, the 917 Porsche went on to win nearly every championship race during the 1970 and 1971 seasons, including two wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche used this car for testing but it did not race; legendary Porsche driver Jo Siffert purchased the car in 1970, and it was used extensively in Steve McQueen’s movie “Le Mans.” With an aluminum space frame and lightweight suspension components made of titanium and magnesium, the Porsche 917 is powered by a flat 4.5-liter 12-cylinder engine producing 580 horsepower. The aerodynamic body is made of thin fiberglass and has both short and long tails, with the long tail designed for the 3.7-mile-long Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans.

© Brian Traylor4. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Coupe
Selling Price: $14,520,000
Auction: Gooding and Co. Pebble Beach
As early as 1950 with the 166 MM Berlinetta, Ferrari built competition versions of GT cars for owners who wanted a higher level of performance for the track. For 1965 Ferrari produced three competition cars based on the 275 GTB with a lightened chassis, the thinnest possible aluminum bodies and engines based on the mid-engine 250 LM specifications. Two of these cars placed first and third in class at Le Mans, and for 1966 Ferrari produced 12 similar Competizione versions known as the 275 GTB/C. The 275 GTB/C has thinner aluminum, and the side and rear windows are lightweight Perspex. The 3.3-liter V12 engine features high-lift camshafts, competition pistons, redesigned crankshaft and Weber 40 DFI/3 carburetors. Racers bought many 275 GTB/Cs, including chassis 09051 acquired by Renzo Sinibaldi, an amateur racing driver from Rome. In 2004 the car underwent restoration to its original 1966 livery, and it has not been exhibited since 2007.

© Bonhams3. 1995 McLaren F1 Coupe
Selling Price: $15,620,000
Auction: Bonhams Quail Lodge
After some dominant seasons in Formula One racing, McLaren applied its newfound Formula One technology to produce the ultimate street-legal road car. Unveiled in May 1992 at the Monaco Grand Prix, the McLaren F1 features a carbon-fiber composite monocoque and body, with a safety cell and carbon-fiber front crash structure. It weighs a mere 2,500 pounds. Power comes from a 6.1-liter V12 engine developed by the BMW M Sport division producing 627 horsepower at 7500 rpm, delivered through a 6-speed manual transaxle. Factory performance figures include zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, zero to 100 mph in 6.35 seconds, zero to 200 mph in 28 seconds and a top speed of 240 mph. The driver sits in the center of the car with a passenger seat on each side. This example was offered by the original owner with no modifications since new.

Cymon Taylor © 2017 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s2. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione
Selling Price: $17,990,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s New York Icons
Chassis number 1451 GT, this Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider was the second of eight aluminum-bodied California Spiders built, and was equipped with numerous competition features from the factory. Entered by the North American Racing Team of Luigi Chinetti at Le Mans in 1959, 1451 GT was completed at the factory just five days before the race with a light coat of paint and unfinished seats, significant racing updates such as the outside-plug Tipo 128F engine, triple carburetors and a competition fuel tank. Driven by new owner Bob Grossman from New York and co-driver Fernand Tavano, the California Spider Competizione finished third in class and fifth overall in Grossman’s first race at Le Mans. After the race, 1451 GT was returned to the factory and properly painted in silver metallic before being shipped to Grossman in New York. Grossman raced the car 17 times throughout 1959 and 1960, including overall wins at the Nassau Trophy Race, SCCA National at Virginia International Raceway and Bridgehampton.

© Rod Hatfield1. 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 Roadster
Selling Price: $22,550,000
Auction: RM Sotheby’s Monterey
Topping the list of all North American collector car auctions in 2017, the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 Roadster set an auction record for the sale of an Aston Martin at auction, and for the sale of any British car. The DBR1 is the result of Aston Martin owner David Brown’s dream to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which he realized in 1959. Although not the Le Mans winning car, this DBR1/1 did win the Nurburgring 1000 KM in 1959, and has been driven by the likes of Sir Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham and Carroll Shelby. The original engine was sold with the car, but the DBR1 is currently powered by a reproduction engine for racing. The previous owner entered the car at the Goodwood Revival and felt the original engine too valuable to risk. British driver Brian Redman raced the car at Goodwood, and in 2013 Sir Stirling Moss drove the car for the Aston Martin centenary event at the Nurburgring track in Germany.

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