Sales of Ferraris, Corvettes and a McLaren race car helped set a record at Arizona’s annual Scottsdale classic car auctions. Nearly $249 million worth of rare chrome and red-blooded horsepower changed hands.
This year’s sales marked an 11% jump over last year’s $224 million, according to Hagerty Insurance, which values, tracks and insures classic cars. A total of 2,321 vehicles were sold during the week.
The auctions, which varied from a single-day event to a nearly weeklong extravaganza, concluded Sunday. Companies including Barrett-Jackson Auction Co., Gooding & Co., RM Auctions, Bonhams and Russo and Steele brought cars to the desert for what is considered the kickoff to the 2014 car auction season.
Although the high-dollar exotics attracted plenty of attention throughout the week, this year’s record sales were fueled primarily by a notably stronger market for cars in the $25,000 to $50,000 range, Hagerty said. It credited that to an improving economy, and to younger buyers dipping a toe into the collecting world.
The strong start had the auction houses buzzing.
“This year’s two-day sale was an unqualified success and set a terrific benchmark for the entire Arizona auction week, not to mention a fantastic start for the 2014 auction season,” Ian Kelleher, a car specialist at RM Auctions, said in a statement.
Gooding & Co., the Santa Monica auction house that serves as RM’s high-end rival in the classic car world, was also encouraged by the results. “2014 looks brighter than ever for the high-end collector car market,” said David Gooding, president and founder of the company.
Ferraris occupied the top of the sales charts for nearly every company that brought one to its auction block. Five of the top 10 sellers from the week were from the prancing horse marque.
The week’s top seller overall was a fire-engine-red 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider, the 11th of only 50 ever built. RM Auction sold it for $8.8 million Friday night.
The same night saw another ultra-rare 1958 Ferrari 250 change hands. That model, a deep blue GT Series 1 cabriolet that is the 14th of 40 ever built, was sold by Gooding & Co. for $6.16 million.
Only two American cars were among the top sellers, and both were Chevy Corvettes. Barrett-Jackson sold a 1967 Corvette L88 coupe Saturday for $3.85 million. The car — one of only 20 built — was a race car in sheep’s clothing, pumping out 560 horsepower in stock form, according to Barrett-Jackson.
The other Corvette, which also crossed Barrett-Jackson’s auction block Saturday, was a 1969 convertible race car. The No. 57 Rebel, as the car is known, racked up numerous class wins in endurance racing at notable events such as the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, according to Barrett-Jackson. This Corvette sold for $2.86 million.
Not everything on the top sellers list was old metal. Gooding & Co. sold a 1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail race car for $5.28 million Saturday. Based on the McLaren F1 street car that is widely considered one of the best-handling supercars to this day, the GTR was a purpose-built racer that saw considerable success during the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s 1997 GT Championship.
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