2014 Pebble Beach: Strong start to auction sales

2014 Pebble Beach: Strong start to auction sales
The interior of the 1962 250 GTO that is expected to break the world record for most expensive car sold at auction. (Bonhams)

Despite a lower-than-anticipated sale price for Thursday's Ferrari 250 GTO, overall auction sales at the 2014 Monterey Car Week were up substantially over last year.

More than $67 million worth of vehicles got new owners under the gavel, with an average vehicle sale price of $477,349.


That compares favorably with 2013, when after the first day of auctions, the sales figure was only $2.8 million -- with an average sale price of only $24,335.

More high-end cars from more high-end dealers, working earlier in the car week, account for the difference, auctioneers said.

The auction house Bonhams sold $66 million worth of the Thursday vehicles -- the bulk of them Ferraris. Its 10 top sales were cars from the Italian marque.

Its sales included a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, sold for a total of $38.115 million -- a world record for a car sold at auction.

Also in Thursday's action for Bonhams were a 1953 Ferrari 250 MM coupe, sold for $7.26 million; a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Speciale, going for $6.875 million; and a 1958 Ferrari 250 SI Cabriolet, which went for $6.82 million.

Mecum also did well, with $2.6 million in gross receipts, making its big sales on motorcycles. Though a 2009 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500KR sold for $60,480, the top sellers were a 1955 Vincent Series D Black Shadow, which sold for $103,400; and a 1923 Harley-Davidson, which went for $82,500.

That's a shade better than the Thursday total of $2.5 million Mecum saw in 2013.

Russo and Steele had total sales of $1.2 million, almost $1 million over its 2013 totals.

Top sellers for that auction house were a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger convertible, at $149,600; a 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadster, for $125,400, and a 2008 Bentley GTC convertible, which went for $106,700.

Auctions are to continue through Friday and the weekend, with many of the top cars still to be sold. Some observers see the likelihood of a total sales hitting a fifth-straight record-breaking year.

"The weekend is just getting started, with many significant vehicles yet to be sold," said McKeel Hagerty, president and chief executive of Hagerty, which specializes in classic-car insurance and tabulated the sales totals. "It will be exciting to see if the five-year [Pebble Beach auction] growth trend continues."

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The Thursday auctions include the new world record holder,