Auction Values

Greg Whitten, a former Microsoft executive, sold his 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO at auction for 48 million dollars. It was the third GTO to be made and was bought in 2000 for a 10th of sale price with many of the original parts.

Greg had bought the car to race in vintage car races and said in a CNBC interview that it was not whole until it was raced.

So are Classic cars an indulgance or a sound financial investment? On the above evidence, they can be both as they are both rare and sought after, so likely to hold their value and find a ready market when the owner chooses to sell on.

How good an investement, though, and what to look for? It can be argued that the most reliable guide to the value of classic cars is the auction scene, with regular auctions run by the top auction houses attracting a global audience. The buyer at an auction has the comfort of knowing that there is at least one other potential owner willing to pay a similar price, so that does in part mitigate the risk of making a purchase.

As a general rule the intrinsic value of a classic car depends on several factors. As with any artefact, provenance, rarity and condition play a significant part. With cars however there are a few more factors and there are aspects to condition and provenance which are need special consideration. Originality plays its part with some buyers, whilst others prefer an immaculately restored or highly modified car in “concours” condition. The provenance of a classic cars goes beyond the tracability of ownership and part numbers. Famous previous owners and/or competition history and significant success can give a huge uplift in desirability and hence value.

With cars, underlying all of this, there is another factor – The sheer beauty and appeal of a particular brand and model. The tables below give an indication of the realtive value of some models from two iconic and much loved brands, Ferrari & Aston Martin.

Top Auction Prices

Hammer PriceYear Made ModelChassis NoDate of AuctionPlaceAuctioneer
$48,405,0001962Ferrari 250 GTO3413GTAugust 26, 2018Monterey, California, USARM Sotheby’s
$38,115,0001962Ferrari 250 GTO3851GTAugust 14, 2014Carmel, California, USABonhams
$35,730,5101957Ferrari 335 S674February 15, 2016Paris, FranceArtcurial
$28,050,0001956Ferrari 290 MM626December 10, 2015New York City, New York, USARM Sotheby’s
$27,500,0001967Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S NART Spider10709August 17, 2013Monterey, California, USARM Auctions
Top 5 Ferrari Auction Prices
Hammer PriceYear MadeChassis NoChassisDate of AuctionPlaceAuctioneer
$22,550,0001956Aston Martin DBR1DBR1/1August 19, 2017Monterey, California, United StatesRM Sotheby’s
$21,455,0001963Aston Martin DP215DP215August 26, 2018Monterey, California, United StatesRM Sotheby’s
$14,300,0001962Aston Martin DB4 GT ZagatoDB4GT/0186/RDecember 10, 2015New York City, New York, United StatesRM Auctions
$12,978,2641961Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato MP209DB4GT/0183/RJuly 13, 2018Goodwood, West Sussex, United KingdomBonhams
$6,765,0001959Aston Martin DB4GT PrototypeDP199/1August 19, 2017Monterey, California, United StatesRM Sotheby’s
Top 5 Aston Martin Auction Prices
Aston Martin DBR 1 Adrian Beechcroft at the wheel.

Three things to note, the top of both lists are models with an immaculate racing pedigree with success at the Le Mans 24hrs and many other races besides. Also the sheer beauty of the lines of all the models represented.

The last thing, note the date range of the top cars. Indeed if you look at the full list of the top 100 of all time they are predominantly from the 1950’s & 60’s. The golden age of motoring? Perhaps, but maybe also a reflection of the aspirations of today’s collectors when they were first becoming interested in the high octane world of supercars.

Does that mean then, with an eye to an investment, the next generation of collectors will create an incresing demand for supercars of the 70’s and 80’s?