Next week in Scottsdale, RM Auctions will sell some of the coolest–and most expensive–cars in the world.
It’s kind of a big deal. Last year the Ontario-based house took in $25.6 million on 126 cars sold at its annual winter sale. Bidders hailed from 21 different countries, with a strong showing of European dollars leading the bidding.
This year look for seven-figure price tags on the likes of a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT and a 1965 Ford GT40. A 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta ‘Competizione,’ one of 74 made, is expected to go for as much as $5 million. RM declined to give a sale estimate but said it’s likely to be the highest sale of the weekend.
It’ll be some weekend, too. Five auction houses—Barrett-Jackson, Gooding & Co., Russo and Steele, Bonhams and RM—typically hold sales in Scottsdale and nearby environs this month, when the cold temperatures elsewhere drive car enthusiasts toward the warm breeze of Arizona’s desert. In 2012 the five houses–led by Craig Jackson’s Barrett-Jackson–brought in combined sales of more than $182 million, up 16 percent from the previous year.
The rise is expected to continue, despite the fact that as many as 8,000 collector cars were totaled by the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
“I think the Arizona auctions this year will exceed $200 million in sales,” says McKeel Hagerty, the chief executive of an eponymous agency that insures high-end cars. He said the effects of the storm will percolate throughout the year but didn’t directly affect any blue-chip models. “The economy is strong; these auction companies know how to consign. There won’t be a wasted lot.”
The Arizona auctions, which start January 17, act as a bellwether for the strength of the collector market during the rest of the year—they’re book-ended by the Monterey sales near Pebble Beach each August. Last year sales there culled $260 million.
Indeed, the cars on our list are quite expensive—the lowest estimated value for one of the 20 listed is $60,000 to $80,000 for a 1978 Toyota Land Cruiser—but buying vintage cars isn’t exclusively for jet-setters. The key is to know where to look.