RM’s Arizona auction: Shelby Cobra selling for nearly USD 3 Million

The RM Sotheby’s 2018 Arizona sale, held at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix (AZ) on Thursday 18th and Friday 19th January, recorded some strong results. In particular, it generated a total turnover of 36.5 million USD (including the commission of 12% on transactions worth up to USD 250 K, and 10% on amounts paid above this threshold), and achieved a sale rate of around 88%. The lots that sold had an average value of USD 322,576. It is worth recalling that, as mentioned in our preview, RM Sotheby’s played it safe with this sale, offering the majority of the cars (75% on the first day and 59% on the second) without reserve. Indeed, only seventeen of the 112 cars offered failed to sell, while nine sold for amounts in excess of USD 1 million.Some new world record prices were set in the course of the event, one of them by the two-day sale’s most expensive car, the 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra “Semi-Competition” (chassis number #CSX 3040), which broke the USD 2 million barrier, becoming the only car in this sale to do so. It actually came close to fetching three million dollars, finally selling for USD 2,947,500 and thus setting a new world record for a Cobra at an auction.

The car with the lowest pre-sale estimated value (USD 15–18 K), a 1919 Ford Model T “center-door” Sedan, was withdrawn, leaving a 1953 Chevrolet 210 Deluxe Two Door Sedan (chassis #B53N158908) the “honor” of being the least expensive of the sale. It came under the hammer at USD 17.9 K, after being offered without reserve with an estimated value of USD 30–35 K. All the prices given include the buyer’s premium on the hammer price.

In general, then, these were strong results, even though the no-sale of the car that had been expected to fetch the auction’s top price, a 1954 ex-works Jaguar D-Type, estimated to be worth USD 12–15 million, obviously had an impact on the turnover and the overall luster of the event. It is interesting to note that the two top lots in this international auction were both American cars, albeit two very different ones. With the exception of the D-Type and one other car, all the lots estimated at more than USD 1 million were sold.

The six cars we previewed

Five of the six cars we featured in our preview of the recent RM Sotheby’s Arizona sale were sold, with  three of them making it into the Top Ten. One of “our six” set a new world record for its model, and another became the second highest seller. This latter lot was the 1948 Type 48 Tucker, used by Preston Tucker in person. It sold for well above its pre-sale estimated value (USD 1.25–1.5 million USD), fetching USD 1,792,500. The 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900 C SS Speciale by Carrozzeria Boano, Best in Class at last year’s Pebble Beach, sold for USD 1,270,000, just making it into its estimated value range of USD 1.25–1.75 million. Many regarded this as one of the best value-for-money purchases of the sale. The 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe by Ghia, first owned by Argentinian leader Peron, also sold, but for less than it had been expected to fetch. Estimated to be worth USD 1.6–2 million, it went for “just” USD 1,187,500. The 1962 Maserati 3500 GTi Spyder Vignale that we included in our selected six sold for USD 604,500, perfectly respecting its pre-sale estimate of USD 575–675 K. The 1938 Aston Martin 15/98 Short Chassis Open Sports by Abbey, which has been in the USA since the post war years, and was offered without reserve, came under the hammer at USD 224 K after an estimate of USD 200–250 K. Finally, as we have said, the 1954 ex-works Jaguar D-Type, which had been tipped to be the auction’s star car, failed to sell. Amazingly enough, another D-Type offered in recent days in Arizona (a production car offered by Gooding & Co.) also failed to find a buyer. This is hard to fathom, considering the interest and passion the market has always shown for this model.

The Top Ten at the RM Sotheby’s 2018 Arizona sale

  1. USD 2,947,500. 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra “Semi-Competition” (chassis number # CSX 3040), one of the most original 427 S/C Cobras. This car set a new world record price for the model, well exceeding its estimate of USD 2–2.4 million.
  2. USD 1,792,500. 1948 Type 48 Tucker, covered in our preview. Offered without reserve, this car fetched more than its estimate of USD 1.25–1.5 million.
  3. USD 1,682,500. 1964 Ferrari GT/L Berlinetta Lusso (chassis # 5537 GT), with a documented history. It was offered without reserve and had been valued at USD 1.8–2.2 million.
  4. USD 1,407,500. 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II (chassis # 1939 GT). This car, with just two owners in the last 30 years, was offered without reserve, and had been assigned an estimated value of USD 1.4–1.8 million.
  5. USD 1,325,000. 2017 Ferrari F12tdf (chassis # ZFF81BFAXH0224563), the youngest car of the auction, with less than 200 miles from new. It is the only specimen painted in Azzurro La Plata, and it had been valued at USD 1.2–1.4 million.
  6. USD 1,270,000. 1955 Alfa Romeo 1900C SS Speciale, covered in our preview. Offered without reserve, this car fetched a price at the lower end of its predicted value range (USD 1.25–1.75 million).
  7. USD 1,187,500. 1952 Ferrari 212 Inter Coupe (chassis # 0191 EL), covered in our preview. This 1952 Paris Car Show exhibit, once owned by Juan Peron, President of Argentina, had been expected to fetch in the region of USD 1.6–2 million.
  8. USD 1,160,000. 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort (chassis # WP0ZZZ95ZHS900020) with less than 9,000 miles from new, fetched slightly more than its estimated value of USD 1–1.25 million.
  9. USD 1,083,000. 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster (chassis # 198.042.7500295), equipped, in recent times, with Rudge rims and Baisch luggage. This car, in good restored condition, also just exceeded its estimated value range (USD 0.95–1.05 million).
  10. USD 995,000 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra (chassis # CSX 2442), original engine, two owners from new, the second one keeping it for more than 50 years. Its pre-sale estimate was USD 0.9–1.2 million.

Some of the other cars

This was a very positive weekend for the memory of Carroll Shelby, with two of his “used” cars selling very well at the Bonhams auction, and his masterpiece, the Cobra, becoming the top lot at the RM Sotheby’s sale. Built in 1966, the latter car, to many one of the best Cobras still in existence, had two owners and covered only 8900 miles until 1973, when it was sold to its third owner, who added 3100 miles to the clock before selling it, in 1980, to Peter Briggs, who sent it to his York Motor Museum in Australia and used it sparingly. Bought in 2001 by the consignor, it was given to “Cobra guru” Mike McCluskey, in California, for a full restoration. Its price at the RM Sotheby’s sale is a new world record for the model, and a much-deserved achievement.

Another excellent sale was that of the 1993 Bugatti EB 110 GT (chassis # ZA9AB01E0PCD39056), which came from a single ownership, with only 4540 kilometers covered since new. Fresh from a major service, done in October 2017, it sold for USD 967,500 (after an estimate of USD 750–950 K), also setting a new world record for its model. The matching numbers 1935 Auburn Eight Supercharged Speedster (chassis # 851 33175E) with a known history from new, including a single ownership since 2003, fetched USD 769,500, well above its estimated value of USD 500–650 K. Another excellent sale and new world record for the model was achieved by the 1907 Ford Model K Roadster (chassis # K952), which went for USD 252,000. Owned by a single family since 1957, this car, one of the only 10 known to still survive in the original Roadster configuration, was offered without reserve with an estimate of USD 175–275 K.

All photos courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

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