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Steve McQueen's Ferrari, others could total $450 million in Pebble Beach

Steve McQueen's Ferrari, others could total $450 million in Pebble Beach
Perhaps the most notable car to be sold at this year's Monterey auctions is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, regarded by many as the holy grail of classic cars. Bonhams is selling the car at no reserve (no minimum price). Some experts say the car could sell for as much as $60 million to $70 million. (Bonhams)

Classic-car fans and collectors headed to next week's Pebble Beach auctions may want to pack an extra checkbook: Almost half a billion dollars in sales are expected.

Hagerty's Insurance, which insures and tracks classic-car values, estimates that between Thursday and Aug. 17 at least $450 million in classic cars will be auctioned off.

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"Some of the most interesting cars in the world are going to find a new home," said McKeel Hagerty, founder and president of Hagerty Insurance.

Each year thousands of haves and have-mores flock to the Monterey peninsula to celebrate classic motoring. The nearly week-long series of events culminates Aug. 17 with the annual Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, considered the most prestigious classic car show in the world.

With such a high concentration of wealth in town, companies like Santa Monica-based Gooding & Co., RM Auctions, Bonhams and Mecum all host one or more auctions during the week. Last year, $312 million worth of vehicles changed hands at the auctions.

Yet 2014 is shaping up to be a particularly memorable year for the Monterey auctions, with Hagerty's predicting a 44% increase in sales.

At least a dozen cars could sell for eight figures, and some of the world's rarest and most expensive machines will be offered.

The most notable is a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, regarded by many as the holy grail of classic cars. Bonhams is selling the car at no reserve (no minimum price) on a special evening auction on Thursday.

Some experts, including Hagerty, say the car could sell for as much as $60 million or $70 million. A public auction of a GTO is a rare event, and this particular model was owned by a single family for 49 years. A GTO sold privately earlier this year for just over $50 million.

That would shatter the current world record for most expensive car sold at auction, which Bonhams set last year with a sale of just under $30 million.

Yet Bonhams will have plenty of competition for most interesting car sold at the Pebble Beach auctions this year.

Other highlights include the "Tre Posti" Ferrari 365 P Berlinetta Speciale that Gooding & Co. is bringing to its Aug. 17 auction. Based on pre-sale interest, the car could command $25 million to $30 million, according to Gooding's president and founder David Gooding.

The off-white coupe is one of only two such cars that Ferrari and coachbuilder Pininfarina built by hand in 1966. Among its distinctive elements are a transparent roof and a mid-mounted V-12 engine years before Ferrari agreed to sell cars that weren't front-engined.

But most unique is the car's three-seat setup, which gives it the Tre Posti name. The driver sits in the center of the car and is flanked by a passenger on either side. McLaren's legendary F1 supercar would duplicate this setup three decades later.

Gooding & Co.'s rival, RM Auctions, is bringing its own high-dollar hardware to the Monterey auctions. The highlight is a 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Speciale. The pewter-colored racing coupe is one of only three built. Another car in the trio was the last front-engine car to ever grace the podium of the 24 Hours of LeMans.

Facts like these are catnip to the wealthy buyers, and also push prices skyward: RM estimates that this car will sell for "at least" $27.5 million when it crosses the block Aug. 16.

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Other notable cars are a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 that was owned by Steve McQueen with a pre-sale estimate of $8 million to $10 million, a 1995 McLaren F1 with a pre-sale estimate of $12 million to $14 million, a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM with a pre-sale estimate of $8 million to $10 million, and a 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype with a pre-sale estimate of $8 million to $10 million.

The first auction kicks off Thursday night when Bonhams will sell 10 cars from the Maranello Rosso collection, which includes the Ferrari GTO. Auctions will then run Aug. 15-17.

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