Scottsdale Auction Week 2015 is over, and the mecca of classic car auctions had another record-setting year. With the six major auction houses taking in a combined $292.8 million, they easily eclipsed last year’s record-setting $248.6 million in profits – and took in nearly half of what Fiat-Chrysler earned in the third quarter of 2014. Hagerty, the classic car insurance authority, kept tabs on all the major sales, documenting the biggest sellers for each auction house out of the 2,939 cars offered for sale. The results give us a fascinating picture into the collectible car market.
Classic Ferraris continued to steal the show, but not every car sold had a prancing horse on the hood. With 86% of cars sold, nearly every car offered found a willing buyer ready to cherish it for its speed, history, or quirks. After pouring over the best the auction houses had to offer, we’ve found 10 cars that really stood out at Scottsdale Auction Week.
10. 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC Coupe
While the auction circuit is generally seen as a playground for the super-wealthy, this 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Coupe proves that bargains can be had too. This Benz was sold by an owner who babied the car for the past 30 years, and it wears a high-quality repaint of its original color. The coupe was the first car sold by Barrett-Jackson at Scottsdale this year, and it was also their cheapest selling lot, changing hands for a mere $4,400. This root beer brown Benz is a great entry-level collectable car, and will only increase in value. From here though, the prices go nowhere but up…
9. 1938 Bugatti Type 57 Roadster
Few cars epitomize pre-war elegance and performance like Bugatti. This example has a colorful history and is close as you can get to owning a brand-new 1938 Bugatti. Falling into obscurity during World War II, this Bugatti was rediscovered in the 1970s in badly damaged condition. The roadster underwent a decades-long restoration and has been painstakingly rebuilt to original Bugatti specifications. Compared to the other frenzied bidding at Scottsdale, this beauty sold for a relatively sane $671,000.
8. 1959 BMW 507 Series II
Introduced in 1956, the 507 was BMW’s first real attempt go regain the sporting character it had lost in the postwar years. Designed by Albrecht von Goertz (who later went on to work on the designs of the Toyota 2000GT and the Datsun 240Z), the 507 was an instant style icon – albeit an expensive one. Its price kept it from being a huge hit (though Elvis Presley famously owned one), and only 252 were made before production ended in 1959. One of the most collectible BMWs, this well-preserved example came with a factory hardtop and extensive documentation. It was sold by Gooding & Company for an impressive $1,815,000.
7. 1971 Lamborghini Muira P400 SVJ by Bertone
Lamborghini has always been focused on making the ultimate road car, yet they’ve never expressed a serious interest in racing. This is what makes the SVJ such a tantalizing “what if.” In 1971, Lamborghini engineer and test-driver Bob Wallace started with the already-formidable Muira, stripped the interior, tuned the engine, added a modified aluminum body, and created the SVJ (also known as the Jota) to declare to the world that Lamborghini was ready to go racing. Founder Ferruccio Lamborghini was appalled, and ordered the SVJ to be destroyed. Luckily, a few Lambo fans intervened to save the race-bred Muira, and began sending their cars back to Lamborghini to convert them to SVJ specifications. This car is one of the five conversion SVJs, making it one of the most exclusive Lamborghinis on the planet. RM Auctions sold this car for an impressive $1,897,500.
6. 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Concept
In the 1950s, General Motors’s annual Motorama traveled across America wowing the public with its futuristic concept cars that showcased the latest in style and technology. Unfortunately, GM felt little affection for their concepts, and most were unceremoniously sent to the crusher. The 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special is one of the few surviving Motorama cars, and still wows crowds with its jet-age styling. Barrett-Jackson sold the one-of-one Pontiac for an impressive $3.3 Million.
5. 1950 General Motors Futurliner Parade Of Progress Tour Bus
Taking the title of biggest, oldest, and slowest car of the 10 highest-selling lots at Scottsdale, the 1950 General Motors Futurliner is nonetheless a historically significant and impressive vehicle. One of just 12 built, the Futurliners were part of the “Parade of Progress” that traveled with the Motoramas in the 1950s to showcase General Motors’s technological progress. The sleek bus is equipped with clamshell doors on the sides that open to reveal retractable stages, complete with self-contained stage lights and a generator. Proof that the iconic Motoramas still capture the imagination, the Futurliner was sold by Barrett-Jackson for an impressive $4 million, with all proceeds donated to the Armed Forces Foundation.
4. 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake
Billed as “The Cobra to end all Cobras,” the 1966 Shelby Cobra Super Snake is an 800 horsepower twin-supercharged beast that’s powerful enough to embarrass some of today’s supercars. One of only two built (and the only survivor), this all-original Cobra was sold by Barrett-Jackson, and was the highest-selling car of the week that wasn’t a Ferrari. The new owner parted ways with $5,115,000 to take the big Cobra home.
3. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider
If this car looks familiar to you, you’re not alone. On top of being a star in its own right, the Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider is considered one of the most beautiful machines to ever roll out of Modena. This ’59 Spider is number 27 of the 50 unit production run, and has been pampered by the same owner since 1969. Offered by Gooding & Company, its combination of pop culture status and rarity made it the third most expensive car sold all week, landing a cool $7.7 million.
2. 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione
The Ferrari 275 was considered to be one of the most formidable competition cars of its day, and its jaw-dropping good looks ensure that it’s a favorite whenever an example comes up for sale. This 1966 275 GTB Competizione was the next to last one built by Ferrari’s factory competition department. With an ultra-light aluminum body and a V12 engine, it was ordered by the iconic Scuderia Filipinetti racing team, and finished 11th overall at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans. After spending the rest of the 1960s competing in some of the world’s most prestigious races, it has since been restored back to factory condition. Offered by Bonhams, the new owner of this Ferrari paid $9,405,000 for a drivable piece of history.
1. 1964 Ferrari 250 LM by Scaglietti
Ferraris with a racing history are always blockbuster lots at auction, and this 1964 Ferrari 250 LM didn’t disappoint. The highest-selling car at Scottsdale Auction Week, this mid-engined V12 powered LM is the ninth of 32 built, and has a fully-documented and colorful history. Spending most of the 1960s as an endurance racer, the LM (which stands for Le Mans) was fitted with a Porsche body at one point before getting wrecked in the early 1970s, and undergoing a full restoration in the 1980s. The car looks exactly as it did before its first race in in 1964, wearing the same iconic Scuderia Filipinetti livery as the 275 GTB sold by Bonham’s. A new owner picked up the car at RM Auctions for an astonishing $9,625,000.
Scottsdale Auction Week made January a great month for Ferrari – too bad they won’t see any profit from it. But thousands of cars were sold too – makes and models from around the world, from the universally beloved to the very obscure. As these 10 cars show, there are many reasons why a car becomes a classic. Sometimes it has nothing to do with speed.
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