Gooding dominates collector car sales

PHOENIX, Ariz. —  Arizona Auction Week generated some $184 million in sales of classic cars. We’ve already reported on the half of that total chalked up at Barrett-Jackson’s 41st Scottsdale event. We’ve reported on RM, the company that stages a major collector car auction in conjunction with the Concours d’Elegance of America each summer at the Inn at St. Johns in Plymouth. We’ve reported on the state-of-the-hobby panel discussion and the auction results at Russo and Steele. Here’s the rest of the story:

The two highest individual sales recorded at the eight auctions in Phoenix and Scottsdale were recorded at Gooding & Company, where an aluminum-bodied 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” coupe sold for $4.620 million and a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT long-wheelbase California Spider brought $3.905 million.

Four other vehicles — a classic Murphy-bodied Duesenberg Model J, two mid-’60s Ferraris and a Lamborghini Miura P400 SV — each sold for more than $1 million at Gooding, where sales of 116 lots brought in $39.8 million — an average of $343,103 per car.

In just eight years, Gooding & Company has become the dominant player at the highest end of the collector car market. David Gooding’s father was the curator of the famed Harrah’s Collection. After growing up with the country’s best classic car collection, David worked for Christies and then RM before launching his own firm, which stages three events a year — here, on Florida’s Amelia Island and at Pebble Beach in California — and also brokers private sales.

The newcomer to Arizona’s Valley of the Sun this year was Bonhams, an historic British company with U.S. offices in San Francisco.

Bonhams sold only 40 vehicles, which generated $5.7 million, led by $667,000 for a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet C that had been in one collection for the last 40 years.

While Gooding, RM and Bonhams operate at the high end of the classic car auction spectrum, Barrett-Jackson spans the market. Vehicles at Russo and Steele often draw bids involving six figures, while such figures are rare at the auctions staged by Silver Auctions, by MotoExotica, and the GRG event at the Scottsdale International Auto Museum.

For example, high sale among that threesome was the $93,960 sale of a 1960 Facel Vega HK500 two-door hardtop at Silver, which sold 175 vehicles for a total of $2.95 million.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at