Investors have of late been paying much more attention to classic cars, adding another element to an alternative portfolio that previously might have been stocked mainly with fine art, fine wine, antiques, and various historically significant memorabilia.
One of the biggest events of in the classic car calendar is the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which got underway earlier this week. It’s an annual cavalcade of truly glorious automobiles, competing for a wide variety of prizes.
But there are also auctions held in conjunction with the event. Vintage Mercedes, Jaguars, Bugattis, and long-vanished nameplates are bid upon by collectors who want to own (and maybe even drive) and unique piece of automotive history.
Millions of dollars change hands as these rolling sculptures join the collections of the auto world’s high rollers.
Here’s a sampling of some of the cars that will come under the hammer over the weekend. The vehicles are being auctioned by Gooding & Company.
This exquisite gullwing Mercedes-Benz 300 SL debuted at the 1954 New York International Motor Sports Show, a first for the European brand. With 240 hp, it delivered impressive, race-car-like performance for its day. This example could sell for $US4.5 million or more.
This 1955 Aston Martin DB3S is one of only 20 built specifically for customers. It could sell for $US7 million. The racing livery is for real: This car was a club racer in the 1960, with three owners taking it to the track.
This 1939 Alfa Romeo Tipo 256 Cabriolet Sportivo is a rolling piece of modernist sculpture, with dramatic coachwork by Pinin Farina. You'll need up to $US7 million if you want to slip behind the wheel and drop the top.
Only five owners have enjoyed the long, classic lines of this 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan. The Duesenberg name was synonymous with the highest level of pre-WWII luxury. The upper estimate for this sedan is at $US1.75 million.
This 1927 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix is the race car of your dreams, from the dawn of motorsports. And raced this car was, although since its heyday on the track it's been well-preserved by a series of non-racing owners. $US3.5 million is the high estimate for a car that defines what a Bugatti is meant to be, right up to the present day.
This 1920 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout evokes the carefree spirit of Jazz Age motoring. A long-vanished American marque, this peppy little car can be had for $US400,000.
Even a slightly dirty 1956 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America is coveted enough to potentially fetch $US1.1 million. A restoration special, this example has been untouched for 25 years, according to the auction house.
Shelby Cobras occupy a unique place in racing lore: This 1965 Cobra 289 combines the best of American muscle with European style. The right buyer could take it home for a cool million.
And now the Ferraris, some of the most highly desired collectible cars. This sleek, elegant 240 GT Series I Cabriolet is one of only 40 built. There's a V-12 engine under the long hood, rated at 230 hp. If you have $US6 million, it could be yours.
The 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider was built for American enthusiasts who wanted the best of both worlds: a track-ready car that could also be driven more casually around town. As part of its backstory, this drop-top was once owned by actress Barbara Hershey, early in her career. She probably didn't pay the high-estimate price of $US15 million.
This 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta was owned by the 46th member of the Ferrari Club of America, who sold the car in the 1970s, but then had a change of heart. It's not difficult to see why: Ferraris from this era inspire a deep emotional attachment. You'll need to make inquiries if you want to get a sense of how much this 250 GT might be worth.
This 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione is a true race car, a veteran of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1971, it took 5th place in its group and the storied endurance competition. The interior is nothing fancy -- race car interiors never are -- but that doesn't mean the car won't go for $US7 million.
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