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Where does Arizona Fit? The Scottsdale Auctions Recap

by | February 2016

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After five years of price run-up in the auction and collector car marketplace that began in 2010 and peaked in early 2015, the business side of this hobby released a nearly weeklong collective burp in Scottsdale. This was not unexpected. For at least a year, collectors, brokers, dealers, and observers have been heading off to auctions with questions in their minds: Is this the week of the price adjustment? Will the market turn around this time? Is the bubble bursting this week?

North American collector car auctions collectively grossed $676 million in 2010 and had more than doubled to $1.45 billion through 2015. Some of those years experienced an exciting 20-percent increase in sales, although growth in 2014 and 2015 cooled to a mere nine and 11 percent respectively.

Auction year 2015 ended with RM/Sotheby’s successful “Driven by Disruption” Auction in New York on December 10. During this biennial event, they sold a 1973 Porsche 911 RS Carrera 2.7 Touring for a remarkable $918,500, a 1975 Turbo 930 for $330,000, and Janis Joplin’s 1964 356 C 1600 “History of the Universe” Cabriolet went for $1.76 million. The sale of 22 automobiles (cars alone; there also were 28 pieces of art and other collectibles) brought $84,482,500. (This figure was calculated from their results website. Their own releases set sales at $72.5 million. Eight autos did not sell, representing another $21,475,000 at low estimate.) This brought about a two-handed effect. On one hand, it set some expectations very high for Scottsdale. On the other hand, it pulled somewhere between $72 and $84 million-plus out of collectors’ bank accounts seven weeks before Arizona.

Mecum

Then Dana Mecum’s annual weeklong sale in Kissimmee, Florida, from January 15 through 24, distracted a few more dollars with its 70 Porsches available. With overall sales exceeding $91 million on site, they are calling it their highest-grossing sale ever. While their top ten sales were American muscle cars, here is a selection of Porsche examples listed by lot designation with sale price:

  • F44: 2003 Typ 966 X50 Turbo sold for $54,000
  • F305: 1986 3.2 Carrera Cabriolet – sold for $60,000
  • G252: 1995 993 Cabriolet – sold for $82,000
  • K135.1: 1980 911SC Weissach Edition – sold for $45,000
  • S55.1: 1971 911T – sold for $85,000
  • S60.1: 1988 Turbo 930 – sold for $91,000
  • S81.1: 1991 964 Turbo – sold for $138,500
  • S96: 1964 356SC coupe – sold for $70,000
  • S122: 1992 Ruf 064 CTR – sold for $265,000
  • S132: 1958 356A Cabriolet – sold for $120,000
  • S150: 1996 993 Turbo coupe (special order triple red) – sold for $305,000 
  • S193: 1976 Turbo 930 – sold for $210,000
  • S220: 1988 Factory Slant Nose Cabriolet – sold for $135,000
  • T105: 1968 912 with COA – sold for $43,000
  • T239: 1986 3.2 Carrera coupe – sold for $69,000

Out of some 2,050 automobiles that Mecum offered, some – naturally – did not sell. These included:

  • S240: 1978 Typ 930 3.3no sale at $80,000
  • S153: 2005 Carrera GT, black with 909 miles from new – no sale at $825,000
  • S190: 2005 Carrera GT, red with 2,720 miles – no sale at $650,000

Their most notable Porsche, lot S98, the 1989 Daytona 24 Hours-race winning Typ 962 stopped at $2.3 million and, as Mecum likes to say, “the bid goes on.”

Between 2010 and 2015, the Scottsdale auctions alone charted a more than 130-percent increase in total sales from $125 million in 2010 to $294 million last year. Already noticing some softening in the market, some people predicted Scottsdale might end slightly down from 2015, bringing $280 million. Instead, when the calculations were done, the weeklong auction sales were $242 million, about 86-percent of the 2015 pinnacle. This roughly 14 percent adjustment revealed itself across the sales boards of Bonhams, David Gooding, and RM/Sotheby’s through no fault of their own. They simply were the messengers.

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Road Scholars Magazine wrote several times in 2015 that the great cars found homes throughout the year. But those were extremely low-production vehicles, or those with exceptional provenance or near unique features. When Monterey rolled around, it appeared that certain models were reaching saturation. That proved to be a clear influence on prices in January in Scottsdale. By the time this round of auctions arrived, most of the collectors who wanted a particular marque and model already had acquired it.

In last month’s issue we asked: Is Porsche’s luster fading? Is common sense returning? Did you miss your selling opportunity? Is a new acquisition window opening? The answers are no, and possibly, possibly, possibly.

Certain well-known factors played a strong influence on sales. With oil prices down, there were no long-distance phone buyers from the Middle East, nor were there American oilmen from Texas up to North Dakota. Neither Russians nor Chinese can get their money out of their home countries so they were missing as bidders as well. A source in the New York diamond markets lamented that his was his worst month in 40 years! On the other hand, construction in the U.S. has resumed and those who build provided a great week for the houses that sold American muscle, resto-mods, and Corvettes – even bringing a surge to long-overlooked Corvette C4 models.

Here are the Porsche numbers: (All prices quoted include fees.)

Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson had around 18 Porsches for sale. This house typically does not publish price estimates so judging expectations against reality is not possible. The best of their selection were part of a category they call “Salon Collection.” This is a premium, carefully selected group of cars that, in total, brought the house several multi-million dollar sales.

  • Lot 1392: 2015 Weissach-Edition 918 Spydersold for $1.76 million
  • Lot 1367: 1977 930 Turbosold for $264,000
  • Lot 1368: 1989 Carrera Speedstersold for $181,500
  • Lot 1386: 1962 356 Super 90 Cabrioletsold for $126,500
  • Lot 487: 1984 935DP Targa (second produced) – sold for $110,000
  • Lot 1385: 1965 356SC Cabriolet – sold for $104,500
  • Lot 1403: 1983 Turbo 930sold for $93,500
  • Lot 1084: 1964 356Csold for $88,000

  • Lot 685: 1985 Carrera 3.2 coupesold for $36,850
  • Lot 1527: 1997 Boxstersold for $17,600
  • Lot 46: 1976 914sold for $10,670
  • Lot 31: 1981 928 oupe – sold for $5,500
  • Lot 1064: 1971 911 coupesold for $99,000

The Salon Collection delivered other head-turners including Lot 7004, a 1977 Firebird Trans Am manufactured as a promotional vehicle for the film “Smokey and the Bandit” that sold for $550,000; Lot 1332 was a 1972 Corvette ZR1 that sold for $192,500; Lot 1339.1 was a 1970 Mustang Boss 429 that sold for $297,000; Lot 1351 was the first 1955 Corvette assembled, that sold for $1,815,000 (interestingly, Lot 1352 and 1353 were the first 1956 Corvette and the first 1957 Corvette, each of which also sold for exactly $1,815,000); Lot 1376, a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A conversion, sold for $1,485,000; Lot 1379.1, a 1953 Delahaye 235 Saoutchik-body aerodynamic coupe, sold for $1,760,000; and Lot 1389, the famous racing Corvette known as “Purple People Eater” which did not sell after a high bid of $1.1 million.

Bonhams

Bonhams sold 21 Porsches on Thursday, January 28. Prices include all fees.

  • Lot 2: 1975 911S Silver Anniversary – est. $70-90K – sold for $70,400
  • Lot 11: 1977 930 Turbo – est. $225-275K, no reserve – sold for $170,500
  • Lot 14: 1969 911S 2.0 Targa – est. $135-165K, no reserve – sold for $165,000
  • Lot 24: 1970 911T 2.2 coupe – est. $90-120K, no reserve – sold for $111,100
  • Lot 28: 1962 356 Carrera 2 Sunroof coupe – est. $650K-800K – sold for $627,000
  • Lot 30: 1964 356SC Cabriolet – est. $200-250K – sold for $220,000
  • Lot 32: 1987 Carrera 3.2 coupe – est. $45-65K, no reserve – sold for $57,200
  • Lot 46: 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring – est. $600-800K – sold for $525,000
  • Lot 56: 1969 911S 2.0 coupe – est. $175-225K, no reserve – sold for $209,000 
  • Lot 68: 1977 911S 2.7 Targa – est. $60-80K, no reserve – sold for $45,100
  • Lot 83: 1967 911S 2.0 coupe – est. $160-200, no reserve – sold for $139,700
  • Lot 88: 1978 Turbo 3.3 coupe – est. $200-240K, no reserve – sold for $132,000
  • Lot 91: 1968 911 Targa – est. $75,000-100K, no reserve – sold for $69,300
  • Lot 111: 1975 911 2.7 coupe – est. $130-150K, no reserve – sold for $74,800
  • Lot 114: 1955 356 Continental coupe – est. $140-180K – sold for $143,000

Bonhams hard-working auctioneers, Rupert Banner and Jamie Knight, tag-teamed their way through a long day enticing and cajoling bidders into loosening their purse strings. Notable successes included Lot 12, a 2015 McLaren P1, estimated from $1.9-2.2M. It sold for $2.09M. Lot 21, a 1962 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster, estimated from $1.5-1.8M sold for $1.485M. Lot 34, a classic 1928 Mercedes-Benz Model K Tourer, estimated between $1.0 and 1.3M, sold for $973,500. Their Lot 62, a 1971 Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona, estimated from $1.0-1.2M sold for $1.16M.

Gooding & Company

Gooding & Company held auctions Friday and Saturday, January 29 and 30, starting at 11a.m. They offered 18 Porsches and sold them all. Auctioneer Charlie Ross soldiered through both days with an obviously ailing throat, croaking almost to silence twice. Yet he continued to tease and motivate and amuse Gooding’s patrons into sales.

  • Lot 3: 1955 356 Speedster – est. $300-400K – sold for $352,000
  • Lot 11: 1997 993 Turbo S – est. $450-500K – sold for $484,000
  • Lot 16: 1976 930 Turbo – est. $250-300K, no reserve – sold for $198,000
  • Lot 35: 2005 Carrera GT – est. 1.1-1.4M – sold for $980,000
  • Lot 40: 1964 356SC coupe – est. $130-160K, no reserve – sold for $96,250
  • Lot 42: 1976 930 Turbo – est. $175-225K, no reserve – sold for $137,500
  • Lot 52: 1978 930 Turbo – est. $130-160K, no reserve – sold for $118,250
  • Lot 54: 1960 356B Roadster – est. $175-225K, no reserve – sold for $187,750
  • Lot 58: 1971 911S Targa 2.2 – est. $170-200K, no reserve – sold for $115,500
  • Lot 101: 1973 911T 2.4 coupe – est. $90-110K, no reserve – sold for $79,750
  • Lot 106: 2011 997 GT3 RS 3.8 – est. $250-300K – sold for $286,000

  • Lot 108: 1958 356A Speedster – est. $350-425K – sold for $368,500
  • Lot 110: 1965 911 – est. $250-300K – sold for $247,500
  • Lot 117: 1983 930 Turbo – est. $175-225K, no reserve – sold for $165,000
  • Lot 119: 1962 356B coupe – est. $90-120K, no reserve – sold for $88,000
  • Lot 136: 1979 930 Turbo – est. $175-225K, no reserve – sold for $118,250
  • Lot 141: 1997 993 Turbo – est. $275-325K – sold for $242,000
  • Lot 146: 1987 Carrera 3.2 coupe – est. $80-100K, no reserve – sold for $77,000
  • Lot 148: 1961 356 B Super Roadster – est. $175-225K – sold for $159,500

Charlie Ross’s voice also brought about some other very happy returns from the Ferrari world, including Lot 120 on Saturday, a 1990 F40 that sold for $1,534,500; Lot 122, a 2003 Ferrari Enzo that sold for $2.86 million; Lot 126, a 1995 F50 that sold for $2.4 million, and Lot 145, a 1967 330 GTC Speciale, the third of four such cars manufactured, that sold for $3.41 million. On Friday Ross and David Gooding set a world record with Lot 33, a 1950 Ferrari 166MM/195S Berlinetta Le Mans that sold for $6.49 million to a buyer in the room. As if that were not enough, they set the Porsche world afire with the announcement that they were auctioning about 20 cars from Jerry Seinfeld’s Porsche collection at their event at Amelia Island in March.

RM/Sotheby’s

RM/Sotheby’s affable on-stage team of auctioneer Max Girardo and commentarist Alain Squindo kept things moving with Squindo playing straight man to Girardo’s quick wit and lightning multi-lingual price quotes, sliding more quickly than the bids from English to Italian to French, while laughing and smiling at the bidders. The two men auctioned 14 Porsches over two evenings at the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Arizona Biltmore hotel.

  • Lot 104: 1962 APAL-Porsche 1600 GT coupe – est. $80-100K, no reserve – sold for $88,000
  • Lot 114: 1976 930 Turbo – est. $225-275K – sold for $187,000
  • Lot 115: 2005 Carrera GT – est. $850-925K – sold for $795,000
  • Lot 123: 1967 911S coupe – est. $250-300K, no reserve – sold for $225,500
  • Lot 124: 1960 356B 1600 Cabriolet – est. $175-200K, no reserve – sold for $167,750
  • Lot 134: 1996 993 Turbo – est. $200-250, no reserve – sold for $209,000
  • Lot 143: 1974 911 Carrera – est. $100-125K, no reserve – sold for $88,000
  • Lot 148: 2015 918 Spyder – est. $1.3-1.6M – sold for $1,595,000
  • Lot 172: 1984 Turbo Slant Nose – est. $175-225K, no reserve – sold for $112,750
  • Lot 213: 1988 959 Komfort – est. $1.1-1.4M – did not sell

  • Lot 216: 1968 911 S Targa – est. $200-250, no reserve – sold for $137,500
  • Lot 233: 1989 Speedster – est. $175-225K, no reserve – sold for $154,000
  • Lot 253: 1958 356A Speedster – est. $325-400K – sold for $295,000
  • Lot 259: 1974 Carrera 2.7MFI coupe – est. $300-375 – did not sell

RM

RM took home the biggest sale of the weekend with Lot 242, a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that sold for $9,900,000 on Friday evening. The night before that, they sold Lot 133, a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible coupe for exactly $3 million. Moments later, Lot 140, a 1965 Shelby 427 Competition Roadster sold for $2,255,000. Sales such as these almost make Lot 229, the 1952 Cunningham C-3 coupe that sold for $1.21 million; Lot 232, the 1965 Ferrari 275GTS that sold for $1.76 million; Lot 231, the 1939 SS100 Jaguar 2 1/2-Liter Vanden Plas roadster at $1,402,500; and Lot 254, an extraordinary 1953 Ghia-bodied Cadillac show car that sold for $1.43 million seem like small potatoes.

Russo & Steele

Russo & Steele, like Barrett-Jackson, typically do not publish sale range estimates. They, too, specialize in American muscle and performance cars, resto-mods and, and recent classics from the 1960s, 1950s, and 1940s. Out of more than 500 cars they sold during their auction cycle, there were 17 Porsches among the offerings they hammered on the block. Interestingly, they have been among the few houses interested in Porsche’s 928 (they offered three).

  • 1959 Porsche 356A Speedster replica – sold for $24,200
  • 1962 Porsche 356 B T6 Cabriolet – sold for $105,600
  • 1969 VW Porsche 550 Spyder replica – sold for $21,450
  • 1975 Porsche 911 S Targa – sold for $28,600
  • 1975 Porsche 914 – sold for $19,800
  • 1978 Porsche 911SC Turbo flat nose recreation – sold for $37,950
  • 1984 Porsche 911 Turbo coupe – sold for $85,250
  • 1984 Porsche 928 S – sold for $7,700
  • 1986 Porsche 911 Turbo coupe – sold for $77,000
  • 1987 Porsche 911 Carrera (3.2) Cabriolet – sold for $28,050
  • 1987 Porsche 928 S4 – sold for $15,950
  • 1993 Porsche Typ 964 (wide-body) 30th Anniversary Jubilee Edition, #219 of 911 manufactured – sold for $85,800
  • 1993 Porsche 928 GTS – sold for $29,700
  • 1999 Porsche 996 Carrera Cabriolet – sold for $20,900
  • 2002 Porsche Boxster S – sold for $11,000
  • 2006 Porsche Cayman S coupe – sold for $29,150
  • 2010 Porsche 997 GT3 coupe – sold for $107,250

But Russo had other big successes as well, such as a 2003 Saleen S7 coupe that went for $387,750; a 1973 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS Spyder that sold for $374,000; a 2005 Ford GT selling for $341,000; a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTE 2+2 that sold for $324,500; a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W-30 Convertible that went for $308,000, a 1990 Lamborghini Countach that brought $275,000; a 1968 Dodge Hemi Charger R/T that brought $242,000; and a unique ex-John Mecom 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 “Shark Nose” coupe that brought $225,500.

The week of auctions was not exclusively about Porsche. Stunning American and European classics from between World War I and II were presented and sold, as were striking “brass era” antiques from before World War I. American muscle mingled with European supercars, all mixed together with unique or ultra-low production prototypes and design studies. Prices were down but the sky did not fall.

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