Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction

Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction August 2007
The event is called the 'Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction' and it is held at the Portola Plaza Hotel and Monterey Conference Center presented by RM Auctions. Other activities that go on during this time are the Pebble Beach Concours and the Monterey Historics, to name a few. 'Sports and Classic Car' describes this event rather well, covering the majority of vehicles up for sale. Most of the cars were pre-1975, accounting for the 'Classic', and many had a racing pedigree or were intended for competition, thus the 'Sports'. With Pebble Beach and Monterey in close proximity, this was a very fitting stable of vehicles.

Vespa's, trucks, dragsters, hot rods, LeMans racers, concept cars, roadsters, woodies, tributes, Microbus, motorcycles, and even a police car were but a few of the nearly 200 vehicles to cross the block. What was amazing about this auction was the record-breaking $46 million in total sales with 92% of the consigned vehicles sold and 9 vehicles topping the $1 million mark. The highest sale was the 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Spyder California which sold for an astonishing $4.95 million. With the number of quality cars to cross the block, this is truly one of the best auctions of the year.

Auction Analysis
There were many factors that could account for this $46 million success, such as the majority of vehicles were offered without reserve, top-notch selection, an increase in popularity from national and international collectors, and RM's restoration division had eight vehicles invited to attend the Pebble Beach Concours. Their Restoration shop has won the top award at Pebble Beach on several occasions, meaning that their products are contenders for Best in Class and Best in Show honors at any event they attend, and the auction house knows how to pick a winner.

Around 192 vehicles were offered for sale with 178 finding new ownership. There were 63% listed without reserve, many had their reserve lifted during the sale, with the average sale being about $263,443.

Most of the cars carry an estimated value which dictate what the car is worth. Many times, those estimates are not achieved and other times they are proven to be too low. With cars that rarely come up for sale, determining the value is even more difficult. The Duesenberg Speed Car was estimated to sell for 125,000 - $200,000. When the auction ended, it had been sold for $330,000, well above the estimates. The Duesenberg Model SJ Town Cabriolet was believed to sell for as much as $3 million. Once again, that estimate proved inadequate and the lot was sold for an astonishing $4.4 million. The Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine was expected to sell at most for $150,000 but as the gavel fell, it was under new ownership for the price of $275,000. Even a Dodge Diplomat Police Car sold over twice the estimated value. Proving once again that the value of the car is as much as one is willing to spend.

One-off's, Prototypes, and Concept Cars
Many of the vehicles offered for sale at RM Auctions have a very colorful and interesting history. None more is true than the concepts, prototypes, and one-off creations which were designed to fill a single need or purpose. The Ford Concour Concept challenged conventional thinking and inspired innovation. The body was formed from a chemically bonded modular aluminum structure invented by Ford and Reynolds Aluminum. The name 'Contour' is rather appropriate, as the body does not possess a single flat line or panel. The interior, drivetrain, and lighting system is equally as progressive; the lighting was developed by General Electric and uses a fiber optic network to form a single Light Engine light source.

The Contour was designed to test technology and design, while the Cadillac Jacquelin was created to generate business. As Cadillac announced the end of the limited production Eldorado Broughams it meant that Pinin Farina was about to loose a big client. Pinin Farina had been tasked with creating the coachwork for the Eldorado Broughams so when the end of production was announced, Pinin Farina began work on creating designs and prototype to try to 'woo' Cadillac back into another contract. the result was the Cadillac Jacqueline Concept, named after President John F. Kennedy's wife. Just like Jacqueline Kennedy, the car had fashion, glamour, and a demeanor that could win the hearts of the public from around the world. Though the car was stunning, a contract was never formed, and the car was retired to the Pinin Farina museum. Many years later, it found its way to the RM Auctions.

The DeTomaso Montella Concept was born in similar fashion to the Jacquelin Concept. The relationship between Ford and DeTomaso was prospering and the sales of the Pantera were doing rather well. When new highway safety and emissions regulations were introduced in the early 1970s, coupled with the impending oil embargo, Ford decided to pull the plug on the project. DeTomaso immediately sough a replacement for their Pantera. The result was a Pantera based concept designed by Ghia that ultimately became just a show car and never entered production. It has a workable drive-train and enjoyed a life of regular road use.

When John DeLorean showed his eye-catching DMC-12 DeLorean Prototype at the 1977 Detroit Auto Show, it was immediately clear that he had a winner. He made some bold claims about the price, capabilities, safety, and innovation of the vehicle. When the production version arrived four years later, the price had more than doubled and many of the features promised were not available. The stainless steel body was now formed from conventional steel, the body panels were not interchangeable, and the mid-engine was now a rear-engine configuration due to the replacement of the Citroen engine with a Renault unit. For this, the DeLorean Prototype is a very unique car with many features and differences between the production based cars. Its mid-engine placement gives it better handling and performance, the stainless steel chassis is virtually rust-proof, and the interior is more advanced, sophisticated, and stylish. RM Auctions presented a rare opportunity for buyers to purchase this car.

One of the saddest stories in the history of automobile production has to be the Jaguar XJ13. It is as beautiful as it is unlucky. The entire project was done in secret and its creation would not be made known for many years. Jaguar was looking to return to racing so they created an all-aluminum V12 powerplant capable of producing 500 horsepower. The body of the car was created from a fully stressed aluminum alloy monocoque. During testing the car proved it had what was needed to be a top contender, traveling at speeds in excess of 175 mph. Just before it was to enter competition, rules changes were made and the car was instantly made obsolete as it could not comply. Jaguar lacked the sufficient funds to invest in further development, so the project was scrapped. In the early 1970s it was unveiled to the public along side the new V-12 powered E-Type. Sadly, during the filming of a high speed segment a wheel collapsed at speed causing the car to crash and was severely damaged. The wreckage was placed into storage where it would linger for many years before a restoration was undertaken. It now resides in a museum and shown on only a few occasions. The car offered for sale at RM Auctions was a recreation built to similar specifications as the original. No one has ever had the opportunity to own the original, so a recreation is the next best thing.

Probably the most dramatic, bold, and flamboyant concepts at the auction was the Dodge Hemi Charger Concept Car. It has a 600 horsepower engine, radical styling, and is possibly the most important Hemi powered car in existence. Its true value was revealed at auction, when it was sold for over $1 million.

The Unique
Earlier this year, at the Chicago Auto Show, Chevrolet introduced their special edition Ron Fellows Corvette. It was the first signed special edition Corvette in the 54-year history of the car. Only 399 examples were created. Car number 399 of the 399 produced was donated by General Motors for the auction with all proceeds going to Autism Speaks. It was estimated to bring as much as $100,000 but bidders opened their hearts and their wallets and drove the final price to $121,000.

It is extremely hard to successfully introduce an automobile into the marketplace. Many have tried and most have failed. Some of the success stories center around marrying two ideas already in the marketplace, into one unit. Carroll Shelby had much success with his European styled, lightweight Cobras fitted with American power. Following in similar fashion were the Apollo sports cars, with their attractive European styled bodies and Buick power-train. A total of 88 were ever created before the company went out of business. Picking up where they left off was a Texas based firm with sufficient funds to make another attempt at cracking the market. They used the bodies similar to the Apollo and are often referred to as the 'Texas Apollo'. They were the Vetta Ventura and only 19 of these hand crafted beauties were ever constructed. At RM Auctions, a Vetta Ventura Coupe was offered for sale; it was the prototype coupe and features many body modifications not seen on any other production models. Its a very interesting vehicle that sold at auction for the mere sum of $28,600.

One of the rarest Chevrolet's ever built was the El Morocco between 1956 and 1957. A wealthy Canadian individual named Reuben Allender was a long time buyer of Cadillac's and had ambitions of building his own vehicle in similar fashion to the Cadillac, but smaller and with less weight. The result was the El Morocco that was a smaller and less expensive version of the Eldorado and featured design cues from many other products in the industry. The 1956 cars had fiberglass bodies while the 1957 versions used steel. A total of 26 were ever created in various bodystyles and marked the first time an outside contractor had designed and built a customized Chevrolet model which was later sold as a new car with a full factory warranty. At auction, the 1957 Chevrolet El Morocco sold for $77,700.

One very exciting gem was the Delage D8S which was put into storage around 40 years ago. When it emerged it was completely original and only three owners since new. It was treated to a body-off restoration and later brought to auction, its first public outing in decades, where it sold for $3.7 million dollars. We are hopeful to see this vehicle at many of the nation's top events in the years to come.

Conclusion
Many of the cars purchased at this years event were more than mere vehicle purchases, they represent opportunities for their new owners to embark on vintage racing, to enjoy the concours circuit, or to participate in exclusive tours only open to eligible vehicles.

With a superb selection of vehicles up for sale, over 90% finding new ownership, and a record setting $46 million generated, this is one of the highlights of the Pebble Beach Weekend, and one of the most important sales of the year.
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