When it comes to the classic car market, Monterey is where the big cars go and it’s where the market’s biggest players go to buy and sell them. During that much-anticipated week in August, more cars change hands for prices over a million dollars than at any other point on the calendar. Because events in and around Monterey every summer like the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance attract car lovers from around the world, auction companies have been seizing the opportunity to hold massive high-profile sales there for decades. Mecum Auctions has carved out a successful niche for themselves in the Monterey auction scene by holding the auction in the daytime and featuring an impressively diverse mix of cars that includes budget drivers to top-dollar exotics and even historically significant race cars.
In terms of the top shelf stuff, Mecum has really stepped it up this year. Last year, their top sale was a Lamborghini Miura at $2.3 million. This year, they have no less than six cars with reasonable low estimates that exceed that number. While there are some traditional blue chip classics in the mix, many of Mecum’s top cars this year are more recent exotics.
Estimate: $2,300,000 - $3,300,000
You can’t register the Vulcan for road use and there are no major series that you can race it in, but none of that matters because it’s an 800-hp V-12 Aston Martin with flame-spitting side exhausts, outrageous looks and some of the coolest taillights ever fitted to an automobile. Only 24 were built, of which this is number 11, and it’s loaded with technology lifted from modern racing cars, but this Aston will largely be relegated to track days and exhibition runs if it even gets driven at all. This is the first time a Vulcan has come up for public auction, and with so few built, who knows when the next time will be. The original price of the Vulcan was quoted at $2.3 million, but given the auction setting and the heavy hitters in Monterey, the premium reflected in Mecum’s presale estimate seems reasonable.
Estimate: $2,500,000 - $3,000,000
The current crop of hybrid hypercars is almost fully represented at Mecum Monterey. One of them is this McLaren P1, serial number 2 and apparently the earliest P1 offered for sale so far. McLaren’s current range-topping model, the P1 features a combined 903 hp from its 3.8-liter V-8 and electric motor. A few P1s have already sold at auction during the car’s relatively short life and the going rate seems to be a bout $2 million. This car’s low production number could command a significant premium. Given the state of the paint, wheels and interior, though, the next owner’s favorite color better be green.
Estimate: $1,900,000 - $2,300,000
With the 918, Porsche made the odd move of building 918 examples of its famous hybrid hypercar. Porsche sold out of the model eventually, but that is a relatively high production number for a car like this and it is a much more common machine than its rivals. As a result, prices will likely tend to be lower but this 918 has the distinction of being the only 918 ordered without paint, leaving only exposed carbon fiber for bodywork.
Estimate: $3,900,000 - $4,500,000
Rounding out the McLaren-Porsche-Ferrari hypercar rivalry is this LaFerrari. It’s the first one offered at a public auction, whereas a few examples of the McLaren and Porsche have already crossed been sold. Buying one of these 949-hp halo cars new was an incredibly daunting process limited to preferred Ferrari customers, so the fact that it will now be available publicly to anyone with enough cash will likely make for some excitement when it crosses the block.
$3,500,000 - $4,500,000
In both style and performance, the Duesenberg is nearly unmatched in the golden age of car design that was the 1930s. The company’s straight-eight engine, even in un-supercharged Model J form, made more power than most proper sports cars were even 40 years after it was built and it was one of the rides of choice for titans of industry and movie stars alike. This 1933 example features rare coachbuilt disappearing-top convertible coupe bodywork (one of six cars so equipped), was bought new by an Oscar-winning actress and has a documented history from new that has included some of the world’s most respected car collections.
Estimate: $1,200,000 - $1,500,000
The Bugatti Veyron was the pinnacle of automotive performance technology during the last decade. People criticized it for its extreme complication and its narrow focus on straight-line speed, but that sophistication brought it world records and it was the dream car of an entire generation. You can’t buy a new Veyron anymore, so the only way to get one of the only 450 examples built is through the private market or at a collector car auction like this. Prices for the Veyron when new varied based on specification, but they were always well over $1 million and it’s unlikely that they’ll ever really drop in the collector market.
Estimate: $1,250,000 - $1,750,000
When it comes to air-cooled 911s, the GT2 Evo is pretty much king. Less than a dozen were made and it combined bits from other contemporary racing 911s with the twin-turbo engine of the 993 Turbo tuned to 600 hp and rear-wheel drive. It was designed with the FIA GT1 class in mind and had both larger wheels and more aggressive aero bits. While the GT2 Evo was short-lived because it was shortly replaced by the all-out mid-engine 911 GT1 (which actually shared little more than its name with the actual 911), it nevertheless racked up lots of race wins in 1996 and 1997, including class wins at Le Mans. For some Porsche purists, the 993 GT2 Evo is the last of the great 911-derived racing cars.
$2,500,000 - $3,500,000
The Veyron may have been a dream car for an entire generation, but so was the Enzo. Like the LaFerrari, it was a car that only preferred Ferrari customers could buy and less than 400 were built. The Enzo was loaded with Formula One technology at a time when Ferrari was steamrolling everyone else in the series, and it raised the bar for supercar performance. While this is a standard production model with apparently no special pedigree, it is reportedly one of just four black Enzos.
Estimate: $4,000,000 - $5,000,000
Incredibly, there will be three original Ford GT40s up for grabs in Monterey, and Mecum’s is arguably the most desirable of them. As the first road legal example delivered to North America from the factory in England, it was used for PR by the Ford Motor Company and subsequently went into long-term ownership before undergoing a restoration that was finished this year. Since the road version of the GT40 was typically a bare bones, barely tamed version of the race car, this one is also particularly unusual in that it has leather seats and air conditioning. Apparently no other GT40s are so equipped.
1989 Porsche 962
Estimate: $1,800,000 - $2,500,000
In 1980s endurance racing, Porsche was the car to beat. No question about it. Largely at the hands of private teams, the 956 and 962 prototypes was highly successful in both IMSA GTP racing in North America and in FIA Group C in Europe. Lots of 962s won races, but one of the more successful examples was this very car offered by Mecum in Monterey. In 1989, it won the Palm Beach Grand Prix and, more importantly, the Daytona 24 Hours. Through its successful 1988 and 1989 seasons, it was also driven by such greats as Derek Bell, Jochen Mass and Brian Redman and had five podium finishes as well as 11 top-five finishes. That’s quite the resume.
[photos courtesy of Mecum Auctions]
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By Andrew Newton