Why $301 million worth of cars sold in a single weekend at Pebble Beach

20 August 2013

While the 1967 Ferrari NART Spyder captured the spotlight at last weekend's classic car auctions around Pebble Beach, it was only the tip of a $301 million bazaar of selling over the weekend — a 13.5 percent increase from last year's five auto auctions, according to Hagerty's Insurance. Many high-end collector cars zoomed past their estimates and a few set new brand records of their own, such as the McLaren F1 at Gooding & Co. which sold for $8.47 million, and the 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante at $8.75 million.

With the world's wealthy looking for investment opportunities, the large auto auction houses have turned their sales into ready-for-TV entertainment, and the environment only adds to the spectacle of high-end transactions. It wasn't just sports cars that turned heads; one of the most talked-about cars of the weekend was Gooding's offer of a 1915 Creators Model C Popcorn Wagon, the kind that used to park outside movie theatres before operators realized the money-making potential of a concession stand. As one of only three such surviving models, Gooding had set the pre-auction estimate between $200,000 and $275,000. Final price: $374,000.

Collector cars have gone through bubbles before, most recently in 2008-09, when prices for American muscle cars went ballistic before falling back, and the run-up in recent years has raised similar concerns. But as the experts who joined us for the Yahoo! Autos live show at Pebble Beach on Sunday explain, $300 million of classic cars selling in a single weekend may be the new normal.

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