ABOVE: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing. Patrick Ernzen © 2015 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's.
MONTEREY – The car-collecting world has enjoyed such growth during the past decade that rarely does a week pass without a major event for classic automobiles. Yet ask any enthusiast to name the one occasion they would wish to attend more than any other, chances are they will say California’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Since 1950, this annual August event has come to symbolise the best of the best in its field, attracting the finest vehicles and the most dedicated international collectors.
Likewise, the car auctioneer has become synonymous with finding new homes for some of the most valuable and desirable cars during its Monterey auctions, which have been a fixture of Pebble Beach for 25 years.
A selection of cars to be offered by RM Sotheby's. © 2015 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's.
Known as The Pinnacle Portfolio, the collection comprises 24 truly iconic offerings which cover the entire spectrum of sports car development, from the groundbreaking 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing to the quintessential 21st-century supercar that is the Bugatti Veyron, a pair of which are on offer – including chassis number one, the first to be delivered.
In between, enthusiasts will be able to bid for ultra-desirable classic Ferraris such as a 1964 250LM with extensive racing history and a 1959 250GT California Spider long wheelbase, as well as a range of blue chip modern classics that includes the 400th – and final – Ferrari Enzo (as gifted to the late Pope John Paul II) and one of just two road-going McLaren F1s to have received a factory upgrade to LM racing specification. Until the end of July, the McLaren is parked in the lobby of Sotheby’s New York headquarters.
1998 McLaren F1 'LM-Specification.' Darin Schnabel © 2015 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's.
Following the dispersal of the Portfolio Collection, RM Sotheby's will stage its main Monterey sale, which will this year comprise more than 125 cars offered in two sessions. Highlights will include one of three Jaguar C-Type Lightweights, an aluminium-bodied car that took fourth place for the Jaguar team at Le Mans in 1953 and went on to achieve numerous victories as part of the legendary Ecurie Ecosse privateer team.
The Jaguar alone is expected to realise up to $9 million, while a Ferrari 275S/340 America Barchetta raced by the great Alberto Ascari in the 1950 Mille Miglia could sell for upwards of $8 million.
Aside from such exotic competition machinery, the wide-ranging sale will also include more prosaic – but still highly coveted – cars such as a pair of Fiat 600s, respectively in Jolly beach car guise and Multipla “people carrier” format. A fine example of Toyota’s early Land Cruiser will also be on offer, together with British, European and American collector cars from marques including Stutz, Jaguar, Shelby, Porsche and Talbot Lago.
London-based writer Simon de Burton covers old and new cars for the Financial Times, Country Life, EVO and Octane.
RM Sotheby's Monterey sales take place from 13–15 August at the Portola Hotel and Spa. For full details and online catalogues, visit RMsothebys.com.