Best looking rides on the block in Monterey this week
By John Lamm
To bid or not to bid. That is the question when the auctioneer sternly warns: “You are about to lose the car.”
Crunch time. Whether you are bidding for a $22 million Ferrari, a $1 million Cobra or a $42,500 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible, the hammer hovers...are you in or out?
This scene will be played out hundreds of times during Car Week on California’s Monterey Peninsula. While some automobiles brought to the annual gala are being polished for exhibition or race-tuned for competition, others will be wheeled over auction ramps, tempting new owners.
Car Week’s anchor event, Sunday’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is in its 66th year. Vintage car races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca have been around since 1974. Automotive auctions have long been part of the Car Week scene, but only in the last six years has the auction action exploded.
It’s now arguably the largest gathering of automobile auctions in the world. They will establish sales trends around the globe both for individual marques and nearly every type of collectable car. Last year’s sales totaled $400 million, and some experts forecast $425 million this year.
Why? “With interest rates flat and stock market (valuation) concerns, people still think investing in old cars is a great place to stash their money,” says Ken Gross, a long-time judge at Pebble Beach who follows the auctions and car values.
Some so-so cars probably won’t sell at auction this year, Gross adds, but might be bought post-auction at bargain prices from owners who don’t want the trouble and expense of shipping their cars home.
Economics aside, auctions can offer great theater. “You don't have to enter a car at Pebble or take a race car to the track,” says Keith Martin editor and publisher of Sports Car Market magazine, a guide to collecting and investing in automobiles. “What the auction adds to the weekend is potential transactional excitement for everyone. Continued...