The most expensive cars in RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale

The biggest automotive party in the world, Monterey Car Week, kicks off in just a couple of weeks. Over the course of seven days, dozens of meet-ups, exhibitions and races will showcase every type of car from the most humdrum family hack to the finest cars ever made. The festivities culminate in the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, but the auctions often grab more attention. And none more so than RM Sotheby’s.

This year, RMS is holding a three-day extravaganza that will see 184 cars go under the hammer. Prices may start at $15,000 to $20,000 for a miniscule Crosley station wagon. But around 50 cars in the sale could sell for more than $1 million. If all the lots sell at the top of their estimate, the sale will realise a massive $227,395,000 – plus a major unknown factor that we’ll come back to later.

We’ve trawled through the catalogue to find the ten most valuable cars in the sale. Here they are.

1965 Aston Martin DB5 ‘Bond Car’ We’ve covered this car before, but here’s a quick summation. This is one of two cars built to promote Thunderball, the fourth James Bond film that followed Goldfinger, which the DB5 famously starred in. And it has all the gadgets featured in the film, in full working order. The car was fully restored about a decade ago and still looks like its just left the workshop. The estimate is massive for a DB5, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it goes for even more than that. Estimate: $4 million to $6 million

1955 Ferrari 375MM Coupe Speciale by Ghia This is a bit a curio in the Ferrari world – a road-going coupe based on the monstrous 4.5-litre, 340hp V12 375MM race car chassis. Of the 26 built, just nine were turned into road cars and this is the only one with a body made by Ghia – indeed, it’s the last Ghia-bodied Ferrari ever. After it was displayed at the Turin Motor Show, it was sold to legendary Ferrari collector Robert Wilke. After his death it passed through a number of owners, all of whom kept it in fabulously original condition – it has never been restored. The styling won’t be to everyone’s taste, but this is such a rarity that it’s guaranteed an invite to all the best events. Estimate: $5 million to $7 million

1960 Porsche 718 RS60 Werks This diddy little racer with a 1.6-litre engine was capable of giant-killing performances. 18 were built, only four of which were raced by the factory and this is the last of those. The works team campaigned it at Le Mans, Sebring, Targa Florio and Nurburgring, driven by legends like Jo Bonnier, Graham Hill and Stirling Moss. It then raced with distinction in US club competitions, most notably in the hands of Bob Holbert. It was fastidiously maintained throughout, but the current owner had it fully restored in 2015. Moss loved it so much he bought one for himself and there really is no better endorsement than that.Estimate: $5.75 million to $7.75 million

1965 Ford GT40 Roadster prototype Back in the 1960s, sports racing cars were often produced in both closed- and open-roof varieties. And so Ford tried an open-top GT40, as well, with… mixed results. Only five were built and this is the very first of them. It was built by Ford Advanced Vehicles in the UK then shipped across the Atlantic to Shelby American. It was extensively tested and used for promo purposes, but seems never to have actually raced. It was later used as a development mule for the GT40 Mk.4 before passing through a number of private owners. The mechanicals were thoroughly overhauled in 2003 but it’s otherwise unrestored. By all accounts, it’s huge to fun to drive. Estimate: $7 million to $9 million

1962 Ferrari 196SP by Fantuzzi We usually think of Ferrari’s mid-engined cars having V8 or V12 engines, but the earliest were actually V6s. The 246SP was built for the 1961 season and this car started out in life as the second of two cars built. It finished 13th at Sebring then went back to the factory to be upgraded to 268SP spec. As such, it raced the Nurburgring but crashed out. It lay dormant for the rest of the year and was re-engined again, this time as a 2.0-litre 196SP. It then went back to the US and enjoyed success in club racing. By the early 1970s, it was in a French collection. Its been through a few more since and kept in working order, but it needs preparing properly to race again. Only five sport prototype racers from the 1961/1962 seasons remain and it’s likely none of them are as original as this. Estimate: $8 million to $10 million.

1962 Ferrari 250GT SWB Berlinetta As these things go, this isn’t the most interesting 250GT SWB in the world. But it does have a well-documented history showing its been owned by a racing financier and several respected collectors. It was built late in the model’s production run, by which time a raft of detail improvements had been made. And it’s in full road-going trim, so it’s arguably of the most usable examples out there. Especially having had an extensive refresh carried out at the Ferrari factory. All of which makes the estimate look like reasonably good value. Estimate: $8 million to $10 million

1953 Aston Martin DB3S ‘ex-works’ The DB3S set the tone for Aston’s success in sports car racing through the 1950s. This one is the second car built and it raced extensively throughout the 1953 and ’54 seasons with the works team including Le Mans, Sebring, Mille Miglia, Goodwood and the infamous Dundrod TT. But results were patchy. It was subsequently bought by Aston racer Peter Collins who then sold it to a collector who kept it for 30 years. More recently, it has been campaigned at the Goodwood Revival and remains in ready-to-race condition. It could even be the best DB3S there is. Estimate: $8.75 million to $10.5 million

1962 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spider Like the 250GT SWB we saw earlier, this SWB Cali hasn’t led a particularly distinguished life, other than featuring on the cover of a book about the model. But it has had comparatively few owners – four in the last 50 years – who have driven it properly. It currently shows over 88,000km on the clock, which is a lot for these cars. Its never been restored, either, and apparently has a lovely patina. Being the second-to-last SWB Cali built, it’s arguably in the best spec, as well. We reckon this is one to actually use, rather than lock in a vault. Estimate: $10.5 million to $13 million

1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM-spec’ Another one we’ve covered before. To sum up, this is one of just two F1s converted to LM spec, which is based on the F1 GTR race car. Five were built in LM spec when new, but try finding one for sale. The upgrades included racing wheels, a race-spec engine and a high-downforce spoiler kit. Whilst the work was being carried out on this one, it was repainted, the interior was retrimmed and a few other upgrades added. Estimate: $21 million to $23 million

1939 Porsche Type 64 This is missing link between the Volkswagen Beetle and Porsche’s own sports cars. The T64 was developed for the 1940 Berlin to Rome road race, using the chassis and engine from the Beetle. The 985cc engine developed just 40hp, but the whole car only weighed 600-odd kilos. Combined that with the ultra-slippery body and it was surprisingly fast. Lessons learned here went into the first Porsche 356, including the wide-font Porsche badge that became so familiar. Three cars were built for the race, but the advent of WW2 meant it never happened. This is the first of three cars built and it was used by both Ferdinand Porsche and his son Ferry as their personal car. It was then sold in 1949 to a Swiss racer who campaigned it into the early 1950s, upgrading the engine along the way. He kept it until his death and in ’95 the T64 passed to only its second private owner. It was sold on again 2008. The other two T64s are lost to history, making this car absolutely unique and momumentally important. It’s in incredibly original condition but is mechanically fit and healthy. RM Sotheby’s haven’t quoted an estimate for it and, quite frankly, the hammer price is someone’s guess. It will undoubtedly be the most expensive Porsche ever, not least because Porsche itself will likely be bidding very hard to get it back. We won’t be remotely surprised if it makes $30 million or more.

Click here to see the full catalogue

All images via RM Sotheby’s

By Graham King

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