In selling for $7.37m under the Bonhams gavel during the Arizona sales (£6,002,681 in UK Sterling), the 1963 Australian GT Championship winning Jaguar E Type Factory Lightened Competition became both the most valuable E Type and the most valuable post-1960 Jag ever to sell at auction. The Scottsdale sale saw a near sell-out of headliners with 85 or 81% of the 105 cars and a scooter changing owners for £29.59m well before winter sundown.
Apart from the E Type auction price buster, a 1952 Ferrari 340 America Vignale Spider Competizione also sold at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa for $6.38m (£5.2m), a 1928 Mercedes-Benz Type S 26/120/189 Supercharged Sports-Tourer by Erdmann & Rossi for $4.81m (£3.92m) and a 1931 Alfa Romeo 6C Supercharged Zagato Spider for $2.81m (£2.28m). A 1955 Austin-Healey 100S fetched $539k (£439,002) and the 1984 Ferrari 308GTB QV driven on-screen by Tom Selleck Magnum PI during the 1984/5 shooting seasons persuaded a nostalgic viewer to part with $181.5k (£147.8k). The average investment in the futures of old cars bought in the Bonhams Pavilion this year was £348,073!
By the end of this now 10-day auction bonanza, the total spend at the seven collector automobile sales held in AZ this year amounted to just under $260m (over £210m), which was just over £6m or 3% more than the January 2016 sales total. While after more than 2650 vehicles had crossed the auction blocks among the cacti this year, and after most post-sales had been tied down before nearly everyone had flown away, around 1980 or 75% of the total entry had sold.
In terms of bucks blown, the biggest grossing event was the RM Sotheby’s bash at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix itself, where a two-evening sale generated around $53.65 (£44.53m) in the sales of 139 or 89% of the 156 cars consigned, the average spent being $385.97l (£312,640). Top seller was a one-off Merc from 1939, a 540K Special Roadster sold for $6.6m (£5.35m), followed by no less than seven Ferraris, the Italian marque therefore dominating yet another auction top ten.
Among the Prancing Horses were two new auction record breakers, a 1968 GTS selling for $3.6m (£2.92m), triple the model’s previous auction record, and a 1995 F50 in black making $3.14m (£2.54m), again milestone money. A strong $3.14m (£2.49m) was forthcoming for a 1961 400 Superamerica SWB Aerodinamico and the 2003 Enzo purchased new in 2003 by designer Tommy Hilfiger, who had only driven it 3620 miles, roared onto the stage to sell to a second owner for $2.69m (£2.18m). Bidders hailed from 30 countries, around 20% of the players apparently being first-timers to the house.
BBC TV antiques show regular and Atlantic-hopping Brit Charlie Ross once again shared the Gooding rostrum with House President David Gooding at their Scottsdale annual, which saw $33.4m (£27.04m) worth of motors move successfully into new trailers, 106 or 84% of the 126 cars driven over the stage selling for an average of $315,327 (£255,415) per lot sold.
The most notable valuations in public auction at this sale were the world record $3.3m ($2.67m) paid for a still highly original and only three owners since 1925 Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix and the $2.92m (£2.36m) performance of a 1965 Ferrari 500 Superfast. A one owner 1955 Merc 300SL Gullwing flapped its door to achieve $1.56m (£1.18m) and a $451k (£365k) world record was also set for a 1920 Stutz Series H Bearcat.
Now although such heady extravagance will, of course, be largely ‘on another planet’ for most consumers of classics on the Brexit Islands, the mega prices paid at the Arizona auctions this year were nonetheless high profile votes of confidence in what is clearly seen by the movers and shakers to be the continued health of our favourite commodity.