As they like to say in the collector car auction community, there was “plenty of money in the room.” With 101 cars going across the stage on Friday night, just over $27 million was spent, with 86% of the cars reaching their reserves; a successful event by any measure. Held in the ballroom of the luxurious and elegant Ritz-Carlton, the audience and venue were nearly as star-studded at the cars themselves.
Highlights of the evening were a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB, a 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS and a Marmon Sixteen LeBaron Coupe. The Ferrari, the top seller of the auction, was one of approximately 58 long-nose, torque-tube, triple-carburetor, steel-bodied examples. Retaining its original chassis, engine, and gearbox, the beautifully presented car sold for a final $2,205,000.
From a group of 11 limited-production 911 Porsches from a private collection, the standout was one-of-55 1993 911 Carrera RS 3.8 which sold for a final $1,655,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $1.2m-1.5m, smashing the previous record at public auction.
And in the most dramatic auction of the evening, a 1931 Marmon Sixteen LeBaron Coupe wearing a superb restoration by Marmon expert Harry Sherry and complete with its original body, engine, and chassis incited a fierce battle between a bidder in the room and on the phone, selling for a final $1,050,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $700k/900k.
British offerings were well-represented with UK marques Arnolt-Bristol, Austin Healey, AC, Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Riley, Rolls Royce, and Sunbeam present. While a complete listing of auction results can be found on the Sothebys’ site, there were a couple of results that will appeal to the Just British-oriented.
First was a 1948 Healey 2.4 liter Westland Roadster, a rare and unusual vehicle. The backstory on this car is that it was personally owned by Donald Healey and used in a cross-country trip with his son as he was sizing up the US market for future products, like the hugely successful 100 and 3000 series. The Westland Roadster, one of just 42, was stunningly restored in a beautiful pale green, selling for an astounding $214,800.
In addition, there were two American-produced “Springfield” Rolls Royce’s in the field. These represent a brief and unusual period in RR history when they were manufactured, not just assembled, in Springfield, Massachusetts for ten years starting in 1919. At the time, high import tariffs, coupled with the great demand from the US market and at-capacity UK facilities, RR initiated domestic production. These represented the first, and only, time that Rolls Royce vehicles were manufactured outside the UK. Surprisingly, many Rolls experts find the USA product equal if not superior to the UK-produced vehicles! First across the stage was a 1923 Silver Ghost, exceeding the auction estimate, selling for $173,600. The other “Springfield” was a 1928 Phantom Town Car with a custom body selling for $335,000.
Finally, for those aspiring to something a bit less exotic, a beautifully-restored and desirable 1960 Austin-Healy 3000 MK 1, BT7 sold for $81,200, indicating a strong market for the British cars we grew up with and wished we’d kept. The recent restoration in period-correct Gun Metal Gray over Colorado Red was simply stunning. With all due respect to the workers at the AH factory in Warwick, this example might be better than new!
Following the auctions on Friday, Saturday’s Concours was a sensory overload. There were several themes, including a stunning display of pre-war MG’s, many with race history. All in all, it was a great weekend that’s only three hours south of Charleston on I-95, if you maintain a brisk pace and an eye peeled for state troopers!