No shortage of enthusiasm for exotic cars at California auctions

MONTEREY, Calif. — Major classic car auctions offering hundreds of remarkable vehicles worth many millions of dollars have become a hallmark of the Pebble Beach-Monterey automotive week each August.

For many of the participating auction houses, this is the most important sale event because of the exotic and rare vehicles offered and the prices and participants they attract.

RM Sotheby’s lengthened its auctions from two to three days, opening with the Pinnacle Portfolio sale of sports cars on Thursday evening, August 13, followed by RM’s usual Friday night and Saturday sales of desirable cars. It reported sales totaling $172.9 million.

>> Browse a photo gallery of the Pebble Beach-Monterey auctions

Russo & Steele ran vehicles Thursday, Friday and Saturday; Gooding and Company, which enjoys the status of official Pebble Beach auction, entertained bidders Saturday and Sunday, while auction giant Mecum offered 600 cars and trucks for three days beginning Thursday, August 13.

Russo & Steele is known for successfully handling post-war domestic makes, but the Scottsdale, Arizona company has recorded some impressive sales of Ferraris, Porsches and other luxury imports.

Russo & Steele reported grossing $10.2 million from its fifteenth Monterey sale.

1954 Talbot-Lago

Powered by a 210-horsepower 4.5-liter six T6 with three inverted Solex carburetors, this distinctive right-hand drive 1954 Talbot-Lago sold at the RM Sotheby’s auction for $385,000.
(Jenny King, Special to The Detroit News)

Two of several six-figure Russo & Steele sales at Monterey this year included a 1959 Porsche 356 T2 which went for $245,000, and a Dual Ghia convertible from 1958 which brought $412,000 at auction. The company said the $313,500 paid for a 1966 Shelby GT350 was a world record for that car.

Mecum, which also offers a wide range of vehicles including many that are affordable, boasted a $44.3 million sales total – a $10 million leap over 2014, the Wisconsin company said.

Seven cars sold for $1 million or higher, Mecum said.

RM sold 86 percent of its lots, including the Pinnacle Portfolio, a 25-car collection of unique and highly collectible exotics, which brought in $75.4 million.

The big sale for RM Sotheby’s in Monterey – $17.6 million – was a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM.

Gooding and Company, which traditionally wrestles with RM Sotheby’s for the largest auction total, reported sales at its Pebble Beach auction of $128 million.

1967 Porsche

With factory-installed fuel injection and long-nose, short-tail bodywork, this 1967 Porsche with a 220-horsepower air-cooled flat six brought $1,650,000 at Gooding’s 2015 Pebble Beach sale. (Jenny King, The Detroit News)

Bonhams, another contender which holds its annual auction at the exclusive Quail Lodge resort outside Carmel, said its top-selling car this year, at $8,525,000, was a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Competition Allow Berlinetta.

Typical for the West Coast mid-August auctions, Ferraris command the greatest attention and top dollars.