Iconic Motor Cars under the Hammer

Iconic motor cars from pre-War Classics through today’s most sought-after hypercars drove RM Sotheby’s third Manhattan sale, entitled ICONS, to a $45.5 million total tonight at Sotheby’s York Ave headquarters, with 84 percent of all lots sold. The total was led by 11 individual million-dollar-plus results and saw strong prices for exceptional historic racers and high performance models of the 1990s, 2000s, and today.

Following a persistent competition between multiple bidders in the room and on the phones lasting nearly ten minutes, the star of the sale, an open-headlight 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione, chassis no. 1451 GT sold for a final $17,990,000 to exceed its pre-sale estimate (est. $14/17m). The second of just eight aluminium-bodied California Spiders to come out of the factory, 1451 GT secured 5th overall at the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans in New Yorker Bob Grossman and the car’s debut at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

At the other end of the collector car spectrum, all eyes were on the first ever Bugatti Chiron offered at auction over the course of the ICONS exhibition. Nearly impossible to acquire from new and boasting a mind-blowing 1400 hp, the first example ordered for the U.S. market sold for a final $3,772,500 (est. $3.5/4m). The new owner will also be treated to a personalized, once-in-a-lifetime visit of the Bugatti factory in Molsheim, France complete with lunch, a factory tour, and a test drive with a noted test driver.
Additional stand out lots from the ICONS sale include high watermarks in several segments of the market, led by a 1952 Jaguar C-Type, XKC 007 at $5,285,000, the first example to win a race on U.S. soil. An exceptional 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster, the last complete restoration to leave Rudi & Company’s renowned workshop, also attracted discerning collectors of the staple model, resulting in a final $1,407,500 (est. $1.25/1.5m).

The nineties were well represented by a 1990 Lamborghini LM002, one of 60 U.S.-delivery “LM/American” examples, which sold for a final $467,000 (est. $400/500,000), smashing the previous record for the model, and a 1992 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione, one of 400 ‘Giallo Ferrari’ special editions with a mere 6,500 km on the odometer, which achieved $190,400 (est. $175/225,000), setting a new world record for a road-going Delta Integrale at auction.

Finally, offered without reserve, the 2000 BMW Z8 originally owned by late visionary Apple Founder Steve Jobs attracted tremendous attention, eventually selling for a final $329,500 (est. $300/400,000) on the 7th floor at Sotheby’s.

Purpose-built to create excitement on the Austin-Healey stand at the October 1958 London Motor Show at Earls Court, this 1958 Austin Healey 100-Six “Goldie” remains a fascinating example of state-of-the-art marketing of the 1950s and the definitive British sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s.

A special ivory paint finish was applied, and all brightwork was plated in 24-karat gold “ . . . right down to the tiniest trimming washers and screws: the wire wheels, disc brakes, bumpers, and instruments were given the same treatment. The cockpit was similarly flamboyant, with the seats, dashboard, inner doors, and side panels all trimmed in reversed Champagne Connolly kid leather. Luxurious Champagne Diadem Mink by London furrier Lorna Doon Snow adorned the inserts and back squabs of the bucket seats. Appropriately rounding out the incredible package, the Austin-Healey even included a gold-plated ignition key and key ring, complete with a solid-gold scale replica of the car itself!

One of the final Saoutchik designs was what can only be called a wild, beautiful cabriolet on a 1948 Cadillac Series 62 chassis. Like every other European shop in the post-war years, Saoutchik wanted American dollars, and what better way than presenting an American car at the 1948 Paris Salon. That it did not look American at all, aside from the dashboard and “sombrero” wheel covers, was beside the point. It was big, extravagant, and aimed right at the newly affluent Yankee.

RM Sotheby’s ICONS – Top Ten Sales
1. Lot 141 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione (CHASSIS NO. 1451 GT) $17,990,000
2. Lot 131 1952 Jaguar C-Type (CHASSIS NO. XKC 007) $5,285,000
3. Lot 137 2018 Bugatti Chiron (CHASSIS NO. VF9SP3V3XJM795069) $3,772,500
Record price for a modern Bugatti at auction
4. Lot 130 1965 Aston Martin DB5 Convertible (CHASSIS NO. DB5C/1923/L) $2,700,000
Record price for an Aston Martin DB5 Convertible at auction
5. Lot 142 2014 Pagani Huayra (CHASSIS NO. ZA9H11UA3ESF76078) $1,850,000
6. Lot 138 2015 Porsche 918 ‚Weissach‘ Spyder (CHASSIS NO. WP0CA2A16FS800652) $1,732,000
7. Lot 126 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (CHASSIS NO. 198.042.7500649) $1,407,500
8. Lot 134 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing (CHASSIS NO. 198.040.5500593) $1,352,500
9. Lot 146 1990 Ferrari F40 (CHASSIS NO. ZFFMN34AXL0087144) $1,242,500
10. Lot 125 2016 Ferrari F12tdf (CHASSIS NO. ZFF81BFA0G0219337) $1,105,000