© Karissa Hosek/RM Sotheby’s
© Darin Schnabel/RM Sotheby's
© Erik Fuller/RM Sotheby's
© Patrick Ernzen/RM Sotheby's
© RM Sotheby's
© Darin Schnabel/RM Sotheby's
© RM Sotheby's
© Tyler Allen/RM Sotheby's
© Motorcar Studios/RM Sotheby's
© Karissa Hosek/RM Sotheby's
© Josh Bryan/RM Sotheby's
© RM Sotheby's
© RM Sotheby's
© Karissa Hosek/RM Sotheby's
© Robin Adams/RM Sotheby's
© David Sirotinsky/RM Sotheby's
© Theodore W. Pieper/RM Sotheby's
© David Sirotinsky / RM Sotheby’s
© Erik Fuller / RM Sotheby’s
© Remi Dargegen/RM Sotheby's
More than £30m worth of classics changed hands
There’s nothing like wrapping up the year with a Christmas bonus – and RM Sotheby’s just totalled £31m. Beats the standard 1%, right?
Saturday 8 December saw the auction house close its year in style with a big-ticket sale at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles – and it seems Santa really did come early for some.
Top of the lots was a racing Ferrari that fetched a staggering £17m, but that was just the icing on a very fruity cake: from million-dollar supercars to much cheaper microcars to one-off oddball conversions, the Petersen sale had it all.
Here are the highlights from the mega year-ender.
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
Sold for: $1.27m (£1m)
This light-green machine needs little introduction – at least with its doors open: it’s a highly original example of Mercedes’ iconic autobahn cruiser the 300SL in its most recognisable Gullwing guise.
Aerodynamic and arresting, this 1955 number is one of just 19 ever finished in the unusual shade and has never been restored. What’s more, its new owner is only the German cruiser’s fifth custodian in 63 years.
1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 Shooting Brake
Sold for: $313k (£250k)
From the sublime to the surreal, this one-off Ferrari was built in 1965 as a standard 330GT Series II – but racer and Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti had grander plans: working with American illustrator Bob Peak, he designed a new shooting brake-style shell for the tourer and commissioned Italian coachbuilder Vignale to craft it.
The result was a bespoke, bizarre creation with plenty of glass and grilles galore. Believed to be the last Ferrari ever bodied by Vignale, the Italian firm was clearly proud of its work, displaying the special 330GT on its stand at the 1968 Turin Motor Show.
1967 Toyota 2000GT
Sold for: £511k (£406k)
Toyota’s daring dive into the two-seater sports-car market remains as striking today as it was when it launched at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1965, equipped with a 150bhp six-cylinder engine tuned by Yamaha and good for 135mph.
Pitched against the likes of the E-type and Sting Ray, it was vastly expensive and an entirely unknown quantity outside its home market, which hampered sales and meant just 351 were built, including this 1967 number.
One of just 233 built for Japan, it was taken to the USA in 2013 and sold on Saturday in stunning condition, having recently featured in an exhibit at – where else? – the Petersen Automotive Museum.
1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
Sold for: $324k (£258k)
From Japan to the USA, this stunning Caddy is a pure slice of ’50s drop-top Americana – complete with tail-fins that can turn heads at 50 paces.
Finished in 1959 in gleaming black with a Batmobile-like shell and packing a bold red-leather interior, the Eldorado Biarritz has has a 345bhp V8 under the hood.
Presumably, the winning bidder drove it straight to the nearest diner, stuck Johnny Cash on the jukebox and put the transmission into jive.
1981 Lamborghini Countach LP400S Series II
Sold for: $368k (£293k)
So angular it almost hurts to look at it, the iconic Countach remains a poster boy for the ’80s – and still sets the tone for supercars today, what with its set-square design, growling V12 performance and complete impracticality on the road.
It was 1978 that saw the arrival of the LP400S variant, complete with its stupidly wide tyres and wheelarches to match – and the Lambo that sold on Saturday was one of just 105 Series II machines made, identifiable by its lower ride height.
1972 Ferrari 365GTB/4 ‘Daytona’
Sold for: $775k (£617k)
The first of several Ferraris sold at the Petersen Automotive Museum sale, this Daytona – or 365GTB/4 in Ferrari parlance – is reportedly one of just five finished in Rosso Cordoba, a darker shade of red.
Initially sold to a friend of Luigi Chinetti, the race-bred machine was consigned to storage in the 1980s and remained there for some 30 years, before emerging – with just 9750 miles on the clock – to be refreshed and repainted, ahead of several concours appearances in the USA.
Incredibly original, low-mileage and carefully refinished, there’s little wonder this desirable tourer fetched more than £600,000 on 8 December.
2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo NASCAR
Sold for: $15k (£12k)
From race-bred to racer, one of the cheapest lots at the RM Sotheby’s sale was this 2006 NASCAR machine – once part of Waltrip racing and driven by winning siblings Michael and Darrell Waltrip.
Reportedly a Pontiac rebodied as a Monte Carlo, it packs a 335 cu in V8 motor, disc brakes on all corners, a full roll cage, racing seats and, helpfully, a spare set of Goodyear tyres. Handy – but probably not for running errands around town.
1989 Ferrari F40
Sold for: $1.5m (£1.2m)
Another Ferrari, this one needs little introduction: the pared-back F40 was the most powerful Prancing Horse ever when it launched, packing a V8 good for 470bhp – and it remains one of the most iconic road cars of all time, Kevlar shell and all.
It launched with a high price tag and most, including the one that sold with RM Sotheby's on Saturday, therefore went to wealthy sorts: it was delivered new to the late Stefano Casiraghi – an Italian socialite, businessman and powerboat racer who rose to fame as the second husband of Princess Caroline of Monaco.
1971 Lamborghini Miura P400SV
Sold for: $2.2m (£1.75m)
If the F40 was a game-changer, the Miura made the rules: arriving in the ’60s, the V12-powered two-seater launched Lamborghini into the big time and set the supercar mould for years to come.
Among all Miuras, it’s the P400SV that holds the crown as the last, most reliable and most powerful – which helps to explain why this 1971 example fetched such an impressive price at the Petersen sale.
That, plus the fact that it’s the only one ever finished in the truly stunning shade of Bleu Medio, and that it spent 20 years in storage in Japan, and that it recently underwent a sensitive, comprehensive cosmetic restoration. What a beauty.
1976 Porsche 935 Group 5 Turbo
Sold for: $174k (£139k)
It may not be a million-dollar machine, but this racing Porsche is still something unique: shipped in ’76 as a 911 turbo, a German hairstylist had the Ice Green machine fitted with the Group 5-derived Kremer Racing 935K package – which meant bespoke glassfibre bodywork and matching bucket seats, as well as performance modifications and, naturally, a CB radio.
Displayed at the Munich Auto Show in period, it remains worthy of a stand today, and sold with its original 3-litre, six-cylinder motor, a fresh paint job and Fuchs alloys to match.
1969 Jaguar XKSS Recreation by Lynx
Sold for: $423k (£336k)
Derived from the iconic D-type, the XKSS was shipped by Jaguar as a means of using the spare racing bodyshells it had lying around. Just 25 were ever built (nine of which were destroyed in a fire), making them incredibly rare and desirable. Even Steve McQueen had one.
But this isn’t one of them. No, this is an incredible recreation by specialist Lynx – one of just nine ever built and custom-made for famed collector and racer Colin Crabbe.
Almost as stunning as the real thing, the bespoke setup packs a 3.8-litre engine and was raced several times at Goodwood, before Crabbe sold it to the then-CEO of Aston Martin, the late Victor Gauntlett. It sold on 8 December after 20 years in the same collection and with fewer than 7000 miles on the clock.
1972 Ferrari Dino 246GT
Sold for: $263k (£210k)
Although not originally badged as a Ferrari, the Dino is still a Maranello machine through and through. It was Ferrari’s first to come with a V6 engine, and it was at its best in 2.4-litre form, wrapped in a curvy shell penned by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti.
This highly original, unmolested and unrestored example sold at the Petersen sale after a life of regular use and careful maintenance in California and Nevada – including a 30-year stint with the same owner – showing that you can enjoy a classic and make a handsome return.
1957 Porsche 356A 1600 Speedster
Sold for: $357k (£284k)
Here’s a dashing example of Porsche’s first production car, the 356.
Sold with its original, matching-numbers 1.6-litre engine (good for 60bhp), the roofless Stuttgart sports car still cuts a diminutive dash today, wearing its original colour scheme and wrapped in its factory sheet metal – patina and all.
It was sold on Saturday by just its second owner, who’d carefully kept the mid-century machine in dry storage for decades.
1969 Mercedes-Benz 600 Four-Door Pullman
Sold for: $335k (£266k)
To call this car a four-door is to rather miss the fact that it was a third longer than the standard Mercedes-Benz 600, at a whopping 3.9m. More than your average saloon, then.
A period rival to the Rolls-Royce Phantom and equipped with a very capable 6.3-litre V8 motor, just 304 of the luxury cruisers were built in extended Pullman guise – including this 1969 example, finished in beautiful dark blue and sold in fantastic mechanical condition. Once exemplary, always exemplary.
1964 Messerschmitt KR200 Roadster
Sold for: $57k (£45k)
From a colossal German car to a micro-sized one, the three-wheeled Messerschmitt might look like a children’s toy but it was built as the answer to a very real problem: mass mobility for the poverty-stricken population of post-war Europe.
Roughly 40,000 of the diminutive economy cars were built between 1955 and 1964 – and the one auctioned by RM Sotheby’s, in fetching roadster guise, was the second-to-last ever built, not to mention the last production example known to survive today.
1975 Porsche 914 2.0
Sold for: $78k (£62k)
This distinctive orange example of Porsche’s ’70s collaboration with VW has quite the story: finished in 1975, the 2-litre example was bought by the first owner as a gift for his girlfriend – only, it seems she didn’t take to it at all.
Instead, it was consigned to the buyer’s garage with fewer than 1200 miles on the odometer in 1976 – and it was only unearthed in 2018, some 42 years later.
Thanks to the dry climate of Albuquerque, where it was stored, it was in remarkably good condition and, of course, entirely original – from the interior to the paintwork to the drop-top. Recently detailed and serviced, it’s probably the most authentic 914 in existence.
1956 Paul Vallée Chantecler
Sold for: $53k (£42k)
This dinky little thing was conceived and created by Paul Vallée – a wealthy industrialist who founded the Écurie France Grand Prix team but whose real passion lay in scooters. Yes, really.
Introduced at the Paris Salon of 1955, the Chantecler was a three-wheeler produced in very limited numbers – only around 200 are thought to have been built. It’s not clear how many are left, but it’s not many. Which is a shame, because it’s really quite a delightful thing.
1960 Renault 4CV Jolly by Ghia
Sold for: $106,400 (£84,384)
Another rare and diminutive vehicle from France, but this Renault 4CV Jolly sold for a fair bit more than the Chantecler. And with good reason!
The concept of the ‘Jolly’ beach car was dreamt up by Italian coachbuilder Ghia, and saw various cars adapted for use in holiday resorts.
The most common conversions were to the Fiat 500 and 600, and it’s thought that only around 50 were built using the Renault 4CV as a basis; the example sold last weekend is one of the survivors.
1956 Ferrari 290MM
Sold for: $22m (£17m)
We’ve saved the best until last, because top of the lots on Saturday by some margin was this rare racing Ferrari.
Built to compete in the 1956 running of the Mille Miglia, Italy’s famous 1000-mile endurance event, it went on to enjoy a diverse life, racing in both Europe and the USA across a variety of disciplines.
Driven in its prime by the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Dan Gurney – all racing legends in their own right – chassis 0628 has an incredibly colourful backstory, encompassing several restorations, numerous owners and an impressive record as a Ferrari works car.
Unsurprisingly, when it crossed the block the pristine Prancing Horse triggered a bidding war that ended with a high bid of $22,005,000 – making it the 10th most expensive car ever sold at auction. Not a bad way to end the year, eh?