Updated: Aug 16, 2021
This marks our third annual roster of the top 24 auction vehicles slated for the coming Monterey car week. I've invited seven esteemed market insiders to join me by sharing their three "gotta have" rides. And I think their choices speak directly to the hearts and soul's of our writers and the market at large.
Each panelist has picked one lot from Bonhams, Gooding and RM-Sotheby's. Selections are based on the individual's personal preferences, and not necessarily the most valuable or popular vehicle. At their discretion, each contributor may list their personal auction presale estimates in conjunction with house estimates.
To ensure an even distribution of coverage, this year’s article goes fully independent with three new guest contributors: Caroline Cassini, Tim McGrane and Donald Osborne. Together with Nick Candee, Gordon McCall, Glenn Mounger and Bill Warner, out Top 24 Monterey Auction Insider Top Picks is sure to raise the temperature at this year's event! Thanks so much to all of you.
The results are in! Post your comments below.
Thanks for reading our annual Monterey auction roundup—and enjoy the ride!
- Eric Killorin
Photos courtesy of Bonhams, Gooding, RM-Sotheby's
BILL WARNER - Founder & Chairman Emeritus Amelia Island Concours
#1 1966 Shelby Cobra CSX3205 - Bonhams
BILL'S ESTIMATE: $950,000
BONHAM'S ESTIMATE: $900,000-1.2M
This car began life in primer with a black interior under work order #18105 and was painted blue by the dealer, McCafferty Ford, Trenton, NJ. According to the SAAC Registry, this car was originally delivered with a 428 motor, but (it was) replaced by a 427 side oiler in 1974. The side pipes, roll bar and hood scoop and Halibrand wheels were added in 1975, and featured on the cover of Sports Car International. All this information is published in the SAAC World Registry. Now down to brass tacks. Do all the changes from 428 to 427, wheels, scoop, pipes, etc. have an effect on the value? To me, they do, because according to the great jazz man, Woody Herman, “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be." My Cobra Go-To friend, Ned Scudder agrees. The demand today is for cars as they originated at Shelby. That being said, I’m going to go low on this with an estimate at $950K. In my heart, I know someone will come out of the woods at more money, but with all the changes, the knowledgeable may prevail. We shall see!
#2 1970 Porsche 917K #031/026 - RM-Sotheby's
BILL'S ESTIMATE: $15M
RM-SOTHEBY'S ESTIMATE: $16-18.5M
NO SALE, HI BID: $15M
This car started as a team car for Mike Hailwood, but had only one race (Le Mans). The car was shared with David Hobbs who started in the car and took it up to 3rd before turning the car over to Hailwood who missed the pits and stuffed the car in the first turn. Afterwards, she was converted to an Interseries 917 Spyder and renumbered 026 by John Wyer Engineering. The cars best competition history was in the Interseries (under Shell livery) where it won seven races in 1971. At one time, the converted spyder was owned by Mike Amalfitano and was damaged in a truck hauling accident—the driver did not tie the car down. It then went through several hands before being properly restored in the UK by Dean Lanzant. All in all, a proper 917 with a minimal Gulf history. That being said, I would guess that someone out there in mega-bucks land may pony up over $15M. 917’s generally don’t come to auction but change hands privately, so to see one in auction is very rare. The Gulf livery is a real asset although its life in that livery was short.
#3 1967 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Trans AM #7N163378 - Gooding
BILL'S ESTIMATE: $1.6M
GOODING'S ESTIMATE: $1.4-2M
NO SALE, HI BID: $950,000
I know this car really well as well as the current owner. It is the first of the Penske Sunoco Camaros and was driven by Mark Donohue and Craig Fisher. It is the 14th Z/28 built (Dec. 29, 1966) and was assembled by GM for the racing community. George Wintersteen also drove this car with Joe Welch and Bobby Brown at the 1967 Daytona 24 hour where it DNF’d. The car originally had a Traco motor with a 283 crank in a 327 block, yielding the required 302 CI configuration. Historically, it is at the top of the heap for General Motors competition cars and represents the seminal start of the Camaro racing program. My guess is that the car should bring north of $1.6 M—maybe more. I wish I was younger and richer as it is my kind of car!
GORDON MCCALL - Founder & CEO McCall Events and Motorworks Revival
#1 1963 Jaguar S/1 Competition Coupe - Bonhams
BONHAM'S ESTIMATE: $200-250,000
NO SALE, HI BID: $165,000
In today's marketplace, there is no shortage of, or attention given to, the iconic Jaguar C & D-Types—with good reason as they are important motorcars. Following suit, the famously referred to by Enzo Ferrari as "the most beautiful car in the world," the Series 1 E-Type Roadsters have etched their place in the collector car circles as well. Bringing up the rear is a car that I have always enjoyed the design of, and for many years, unloved in the marketplace compared to its siblings. The Series 1 Coupe is such a usable classic, with all of the sexy bits of the Roadster, minus the drop top. Of the Coupes, the 12 factory lightweight racers are the high-water mark of course, which to me, leaves the door wide open for tastefully and period correctly modified examples, such as this one offered by Bonhams. Stylish & sporting all in one package, I'd take it!
#2 1975 Porsche 911 Turbo Carrera - RM-Sotheby's
RM-SOTHEBY'S ESTIMATE: $200-240,000
In 1975, the arrival of the Porsche 911 Turbo was a game changer for a street legal car. in 1972, the first turbocharged Porsche seen by the public was the 917/10 at Mosport with Mark Donohue behind the wheel. The Carrera RSs, the street Carrera's from 1974 and 1975, were naturally aspirated—and then came this beast. One really had to anticipate the turbo boost to master, or at least think you were mastering the throttle! What intrigues me the most about these early cars is the low 274-unit production numbers, the 160 mph top speed and outright rarity. I suppose a re-stamped engine will affect the selling price to some degree on this example; however, still an important motorcar in my view. It has paved the way for all of the Porsche Turbos to follow which there are many.
#3 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 - Gooding
GOODING'S ESTIMATE: $900,000-1.1M
Putting provenance aside, this 289 Cobra ticks all the boxes for an automotive enthusiast. Fun to drive, fun to look at, easy to work on and everyone you come in contact with has a Carroll Shelby story along with the inevitable—is it real? Real it is, and lovely at that. To me, the 289 Cobra epitomizes motoring of the 1960s; in other words, how do we make something go faster that its original form intended it to? Hot rods were becoming more sophisticated, and with the English flavor of the AC Ace, Carroll Shelby found a brilliant way to combine style and performance all in one package. As simple a motorcar as they are, this 289 Cobra tells a complex story of one man's dream, and owning a 289 Cobra puts one immediately in a club of fellow enthusiasts, with acceptance to any rally or show, or perhaps in this case, a rock concert.
GLENN MOUNGER - Chairman Emeritus The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance
#1 1953 Siata 208 CS - Gooding
GLENN'S ESTIMATE: $1.9M
GOODING'S ESTIMATE: $1.4-1.8M
The powerful presence and pure body lines of the Sita 208 immediately captures my attention. The transition from the roof to the fenders is gracefully performed with fantastic proportions, but it's not typically Italian, which is more often light and delicate. The Balbo design is bold and robust with a low roofline, wide stance, and perfectly tapered rear roofline. And it's not just the amazing design, the car is powered by the Otto Vu engine, itself a work of mechanical artistry. It is competitive with any of the top performance engines of the era. This particular example is finished in dark blue with a beautifully executed warm-toned caramel leather that gives this performance car a hint of unsuspecting elegance. A very compelling visual statement combining brilliant design and mechanical excellence. I'm going with an estimate of $1.9M. When you compare this to other vehicles in the under $2M category, this lovely Siata really stands out.
#2 1971 AC 428 Frua Coupe - Bonhams
GLENN'S ESTIMATE: $135,000
BONHAM'S ESTIMATE: $150-200,000
I’m personally surprised by this choice but the more I looked at this car, the more I kept coming back to it. Compelling is that the AC 428 combines all the great elements of Grand Touring cars in a unique design. I’ve always liked GT cars and from an historic perspective, the lineage to the first Cobra is part of what attracts me to this car. It’s also the last in a long line of uniquely developed AC performance cars. The Frua design not only captures the power and presence of American muscle with the beauty of Italian design, being just one of only 51 coupes built out of a total run of 80, you’re pretty much guaranteed to never see yourself around the corner, even at a top tier concours. It’s a well-tailored Italian suit packed with American punch delivered by one of Ford’s most powerful engines. I think the condition and presentation will hold it back so I'm going with a hammer price of $135,000.
#3 1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Phaeton - RM-Sotheby's
GLENN'S ESTIMATE: $2.8M
RM-SOTHEBY'S ESTIMATE: $2.7-3.2M
This car embodies everything about what made the Duesenberg such a great car—a breathtaking statement of engineering artistry. You’re pretty much looking at the genesis of virtually all American performance cars including hot rods that cribbed from the design elements on these cars, right down to the black wall tires, shaved door handles and raked windshield. Just imagine, these cars were going 100 miles an hour when most of America was still shoeing horses. Everything about this car commands you to drive, and that’s what the former owner did, participating in tours and events, which makes it even more compelling to me as it can be enjoyed on the road, and still hold its own at any major concours. Even today, nearly a century later, Duesenberg remains the premier statement of American performance and elegance. Three nice Duesenbergs up for grabs and I’m not sure how many buyers are out there for big American Classics; $2.8M seems about right.
NICK CANDEE - AMOC Historian and Co-author ASTON MARTIN DB4GT
#1 1968 Aston Martin DBS/5100/LAC Saloon - Bonhams
NICK'S ESTIMATE: $100,000
GOODING'S ESTIMATE: $60-90,000
From the Bonhams bouquet, I chose this outlier as the one “value” Aston Martin. The owner will surely see fit to get the Full Monty care of a top Aston specialist such as Steel Wings in Pennsylvania, or Kevin Kay in California. Upgrades for power, handling, a manual transmission and the addition of U.S. quality AC. And for low six figures, you’ll have a gorgeous, hand-built gem from Newport Pagnell for truly grand touring! Has the time come where these "interim" Astons to get some respect? I expect the DBS will surprise to reach $10,000 above the estimate giving the new owner grunt and glamour for less than the cost of a nice DB5.
#2 1985 March 86C Indy Car - Gooding
NICK'S ESTIMATE: $1.7M
GOODING'S ESTIMATE: $1.5-2M
I am drawn to Gooding Lot 31, 1986 March 86C, which I forecast will sell for mid-range estimate of $1.7M since monoposto race cars can be a thin market. This car carries a lot of emotional history. At Press Day at Mid-Ohio April 1982, I met a nice young man with eyeglasses almost as thick as mine, Bobby Rahal, who’d been sponsored by Dick Leppla, Cleveland Crane & Shovel. I was an instant fan. 1986 brought the Bobby Rahal victory at Indy in this March for Jim Trueman in the last days of Mr. Trueman’s life: "Rahal climbed from his car in the victory lane and emotionally announced, “This one was for Jim Trueman. If there’s one thing I can give Jim Trueman, it’s this.” The two celebrated their victory together with sips of the traditional milk, and ABC announcer Jack Arute would years later recall that Trueman had whispered in his ear “Now I can go,” which he did just 11 days later."
#3 1960 Aston Martin DB4GTZ/0190/L - RM-Sotheby's
NICK'S ESTIMATE: $14M
RM-SOTHEBY'S ESTIMATE: $11-14M
The precious orchid here is Lot 120, DB4GT/0190/L, a British bespoke custom by the Milano Carrozzeria Zagato, ordered by USN Commander Murray, who earlier ordered DB4GT/0104/L from Garage Mirabeau in Paris, one of the first GTs in France. I loved seeing this GTZ here in Boston, with its twin magnetos instead of twin distributors. Only defect: No race history except Salvadori's second place at the May 1962 Brands Hatch! But tasty 007-quality international travels in early days. The consignor seems to have enjoyed the marque having this prized GTZ along with a DB4GT lightweight, perhaps the world's best DB5 and one-of-two DB2/4 Bertone drophead coupes. Fine taste indeed.
CAROLINE CASSINI - General Manager The Market by Bonhams
#1 1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Cabriolet - Bonhams
CAROLINE'S ESTIMATE: $1.7
BONHAMS ESTIMATE: $1.8-2.3M
I have always had a particular love affair with prewar French automobiles, and
this Talbot-Lago ticks all the boxes: Illustrious design by one of the most famous coach builders of its time, well documented history and of course extreme rarity. I particularly love that it was shown at some of the original Concours d’Elegance events in the day, particularly its debut at the 1948 Concours of Deauville. The history of the Concours d’Elegance is one of the things that got me hooked on cars at a young age; I find it fascinating that it was truly just as much about the fashion as it was about the cars. As the period photos that accompany the car attest, you can see by the onlookers and proud past owners. It was a special car then and it is a special car now. Since it is fresh out of a comprehensive restoration this is an exciting opportunity for the next custodian to unveil this elegant Talbot-Lago at the world’s leading Concours. Pebble Beach anyone?
#2 1958 Ferrari 250 GT #1031GT LWB Berlinetta Tour de France - RM-Sotheby's
CAROLINE'S ESTIMATE: $5.9M
RM-SOTHEBY'S ESTIMATE $5.7-6.5M
Known for their stunning performance, robust engineering, and beautiful design, the Ferrari 250 GT was the car that made Ferrari a dominant force in Gran Turismo racing. These remarkable cars would ultimately become the epitome of performance excellence in both historic and collector contexts, eventually cementing the 250 GT Ferrari as the icon of performance that reigns today. This particular car, serial number 1031GT, must be counted as one of the most highly documented and known competition Tour de France models in existence. I have a personal relationship with this car because I was lucky enough to work at Fantasy Junction while it was being marketed there. I was able to put my hands on all the incredible paperwork and records that this car is documented with, and I can say—without a doubt—that this remarkable 1958 Ferrari 250GT Tour de France is a truly unrepeatable example of one of the finest competition cars built in the 1950s. A highly desirable, matching numbers, factory covered headlight car with significant period race history and unique one-off specified features. With this provenance, there is little that can compare to the combined past and present history of 1031GT and I hope that it finds a great home that can appreciate how truly special it is.
#3 1995 McLaren F1 #029 - Gooding
CAROLINE'S ESTIMATE: $19M
GOODING'S ESTIMATE: $15M+
The McLaren F1 was a technological masterpiece in many ways. It was the fastest production car of its time and by far one of the finest sports cars of its generation. In 2013, Octane Magazine compared the McLaren F1 to the legendary Ferrari 250 GTO: “If a modern-era successor can achieve recognition as the future 250 GTO, it has to be the McLaren F1.” I think we can see that this statement has been proven to stay true given the trajectory of value and holy grail status these cars now have. It is always exciting to see when something like a McLaren F1 comes to public auction. It creates a unique opportunity for a wide audience to have access to one of the most legendary motorcars ever built. Given the unique color scheme and less than 1,000 recorded miles, I think we will see this McLaren F1 achieve a high point for the marque.
TIM MCGRANE - Chief Executive Officer M1 Concourse
#1 1956 Maserati A6G/54 Coupe - Gooding
TIM'S ESTIMATE: $2.75-3.5M
GOODING'S ESTIMATE: $2.5-3.2M
NO SALE, HI BID: $2.3M
Of the many marques that carried designs penned by Pietro Frua, Maserati had some of the most handsome of his many creations. Being one of only six coupes built with Frua coachwork, this car started a glamorous life, but would spend much of its later life unloved and uncared. Since coming out of the legendary Baillon Collection—and the milestone auction held at Retromobile—this A6G/54 has since been exhibited with much fanfare at many of the leading events on the concours circuit receiving due recognition for its unrestored patina. The first question a prospective buyer of this car will have to ask themselves: "Do I, or Don’t I?." That’s not whether to buy, but whether to restore it. Such a comment will probably inflame the conservationists in our world so let me say that I am a proponent of preservation versus the restoration approach, but this Maserati’s striking design with its exquisite detailing certainly deserves to be returned to its original glory.
#2 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza - RM Sotheby's
TIM'S ESTIMATE: $2.25-2.75M
RM-SOTHEBY'S ESTIMATE: $2.5-3.2M
"8C" — That says enough to stir the inner soul of most in vintage race car world. I know this car well and had the distinct privilege of riding with good friend Peter Giddings a number of times. Peter was a prolific vintage racer and had driven every example of the great prewar grand prix cars, along with owning an exceptional line up of cars that he campaigned all over the world and over many decades. It was hard to decide which of Peter’s three cars being offered to choose: The mechanical masterpiece that is the 1.5 litre straight eight Delage or the prewar grand prix experience of the 8C 35. Peter loved sharing his cars as much as he enjoyed racing. He was both as knowledgeable and hands on with the mechanicals attributes, as he was successful in racing to countless victories that filled the trophy cases at his home. Although this particular 8C 2300 does not possess an unquestionable original history, it does offer the future owner the opportunity to participate in the many leading vintage race and rally events at significantly less than the price of an 8C 2300 with pristine pedigree. This well sorted Alfa has a proven track record and fabulous contemporary history. "Thanks Peter" will be a comment the new owner will get to appreciate!
#3 1928 Mercedes-Benz 26/120/180-S-Type Supercharged Sports Tourer - Bonhams
TIM'S ESTIMATE: $3.5-4.25M
BONHAM'S ESTIMATE: $2.5-3.2M
It is going to take a special buyer to step up for this Mercedes Benz S Tourer as prewar supercharged cars are not for the casual collector. Although such a car could be the pinnacle of most museum gallery displays, private garage collections or openly welcome on many concours lawns, to fully appreciate what a special automobile these Sports Tourers it should be driven, and driven enthusiastically. The ownership history on this car is unquestioned and includes some of the true "personalities" of the classic car world. For many years this car carried a distinctive two-tone yellow and black color scheme, but the long low coachwork now finished in all black gives it an almost sinister appearance. Among the greatest of all Mercedes-Benz Touring Cars, S-Types rarely come to market. One with such a sound ownership history and provenance makes this a unique opportunity to acquire an exceptional example of one of the truly great cars. I could quite happily drive this car home from the Monterey Peninsula!