The Auction Block Queen, the 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa Prototype

Top Auction Collector Cars Bring Multimillion Dollars

Defying the global economic recession, the Paris Retromobile and Arizona Auction Week close their doors bringing the first astronomical numbers. We can only imagine how some companies would dream of seeing such numbers in their balance sheets.

Looking at the numbers of collector cars sold recently, it would be easy to think there is no recession. Yet, a closer look will reveal tell-tell signs that buyers are in a hold and wait pattern, while the rest will only buy top of the line investments.

So far, we are witnessing a predictable Ferrari, while a fascinating climb for Duesenberg models mark the first American classic to eclipse the 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe.

The Numbers.
1. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa Prototype, Gooding Pebble Beach, August 2011, $16,390,000
2. 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, RM Auctions Ferrari, May 2009, $12,402,500
3. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder, RM Auctions Ferrari, May 2008, $10,894,000
4. 1931 Duesenberg Model J Whittell Coupe, Gooding Pebble Beach, August 2011, $10,340,000
5. 1931 Bugatti Royale Type 41, Christie’s London, November 1987, $9,800,000
6. 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, RM Auctions Monterey, August 2011, $9,680,000
7. 1962 Ferrari 330 TR/LM, RM Auctions Ferrari, May 2007, $9,281,250
8. 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, RM Auctions London, October 2007, $8,252,201
9. 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante Coupe, Gooding Pebble Beach, August 2008, $7,920,000
10. 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe, Mecum Auctions Monterey, August 2009, $7,685,000.

The Trend. The interesting trend to watch for is which cars came up, and down. Case in point, the 1929 Mercedes-Benz 38/250 SSK sold at Bonhams in September 2004 for $7.44 million and grossed $9.68 million recently. The 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Competition California Spyder at Gooding sold for $7.26 million in August 2010, last year it peaked at $10,894 million.

A few obvious trends can be gleaned from these numbers. 1, obviously Ferrari still rides high the desirability list for serious collectors. But looking closer, the conclusion is obvious, good money will be paid for cars with relevant and proven history, for cars in mint conditions and those that will continue to appreciate in the near future. 2, Duesenberg raises a flag that Americans don’t just have the petulant racers of the 60s or muscle cars of the 70s to show for. Finally a real classic makes it to its deserved top spot. 3, are the days of the over inflated prices for muscle cars, sparked by dubious calculations from investors over? It would seem so as the 2009 muscle car craze has come down to more realistic numbers.

In the meantime, collector cars reflect today’s reality. Plenty of money is available for top-notch cars in great condition, with proven history that will continue to be great investments in the future.

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