Pebble Beach 2015: Auction action strong at Monterey Car Week

Pebble Beach 2015: Auction action strong at Monterey Car Week
A 1964 Ferrari 250 LM set the pace for the 2015 auctions, going for more than $17 million at RM Sotheby's on Thursday. (Don Kelsen / Los Angeles Times)

This year's Monterey Car Week auction totals were projected to be lower than last year's.

So far, not so.


Going into the weekend, after two strong RM Sotheby's nights and good gavel work at Bonhams, the cumulative numbers were slightly above the 2014 figures.

Just over $188 million in collectible vehicles had been sold as of late Friday night -- about $12 million ahead of last year's pace -- according to research by the classic vehicle insurance company Hagerty.

Topping the results were a 1964 Ferrari LM Coupe sold by RM Sotheby's for $17.6 million, and a 1998 McLaren F1 LM Coupe sold by RM Sotheby's for $13.75 million. Bonhams' top sale so far was for a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT, which fetched $8.5 million.

As has been the case in recent years, Ferrari sales continued to lead the pack. Eight of RM Sotheby's top sellers Thursday and Friday were of that brand.

At the more American-oriented Mecum, eight of the top 10 Friday sales were for Chevrolet Corvettes.

Company owner Dana Mecum said the high rates were partly a function of the high percentage of bidders, who come into town for the week-long event and attend auctions even when they are not planning to purchase anything -- but have enough money to buy something on an impulse.

"For an expensive car, at a regular auction, there might be three guys in the room that can afford it," Mecum said. "At Monterey, there might be 30 of them."

Among the Friday highlights, RM Sotheby's sold a 1953 Jaguar C-Type racing car for $13.2 million, well above the estimate, for what is believed to be the highest price ever paid for that English marque at auction.

Mecum did well with two-wheels, as well, selling a 1914 Flying Merkel V-Twin for $192,000 and a 1925 BMW R32 for $187,000.

By company, RM Sotheby's led the pack, with a two-night total of $123.5 million. Bonhams had sold a cumulative $45.7 million in vehicles, Mecum a total of $15.7 million, Russo & Steele $2.7 million and JR Auctions $492,000.

Numbers were not available for Rick Cole Auctions, which was also selling Thursday and Friday.

Going into the weekend, much of the heavy selling had yet to come. RM Sotheby's, Mecum, Russo & Steele, Rick Cole and the well-regarded Goodings auction houses were scheduled to continue gaveling through the end of the annual Monterey Car Week.

Twitter @misterfleming