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.
"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.
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.