New York City has a lot of world-class attractions, but it isn’t exactly a hot stop on the big-time classic car auction circuit. Maybe its insane real estate prices make it tough to find the square footage to park a CarMax-sized lot of classics in one place. Maybe it’s the awful drivers and terrible roads. Or maybe it’s because the real collectors are in Westchester and Greenwich, and they’ll travel the world for their latest acquisition. For whatever reason, we don’t get many blockbuster auctions this close to Autos Cheat Sheet’s New York satellite office, so when RM Sotheby’s decided to hold its “Driven by Disruption” event at its Upper East Side headquarters, we began following it very closely.
As we said last week in a preview: “Though the lots were on display for only a few days, the presentation on the 10th floor at Sotheby’s New York headquarters easily rivaled any of the best car museums in the world.” Its eclectic blend of prewar, midcentury, and newtimer classics were like a greatest hits package for the history of the car. The setup was so impressive, in fact, that you could spend time in a single room with a BMW M1, Lamborghini Muira, DeTomaso Mangusta, and Ferrari Daytona, and almost forget that there was a perfect ’73 Porsche RS 2.7 Touring tucked in a corner too.
So with an impeccably curated lineup and some of the most iconic and important classics of all-time crossing the block last Thursday, Driven by Disruption was a massive hit. With $73.5 million in sales, it broke new records in the collectors market, and briefly made New York City the collector car capitol of the world. Here’s the five biggest winners of the night, plus one that’s worth a mention.
Honorable Mention: Janis Joplin’s 1964 Porsche 356C
Last week, we asked “Would You Pay $500,000 for Janis Joplin’s Car?” Back then, the pre-sale estimate was sitting at an impressive $400,000 to $600,000. Well, turns out we were all way off. Thanks to a fierce bidding war with seven potential buyers in the mix, Joplin’s psychedelic 1964 356C 1600SC – a rare car on its own – fetched an eye-watering $1.76 million. That not only makes it one of the most expensive celebrity cars ever sold, it’s now the most expensive Porsche 356C to ever cross the block.
5. 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe
When it comes to top-dollar auction draws, Ferrari 250s are at the top of the heap, and Driven by Disruption was no exception. Originally displayed at Madison Square Garden in the 1954 New York World Motor Sports Show, this metallic brown 250 Europa is from the first year of 250 production, when Ferrari was still trying to find a unified aesthetic for its road cars. One of just four 250s bodied by Vignale, this Europa underwent a massive restoration in 2011, and now looks exactly like it did back at The Garden in ’54. Last week it fetched $3.3 million.
4. 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow
Unveiled at the darkest point of the Great Depression, the $10,000 ($184,000 today) Silver Arrow was a V12-powered rival to the likes of Duesenberg and Rolls-Royce that predicted styling trends that wouldn’t appear on many cars until after World War II. Unfortunately, Pierce-Arrow refused to move downmarket during the Depression, and folded in 1938 after just five Silver Arrows were built. This car made its public debut at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, and crossed the auction block for $3.74 million.
3. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I
Proving that not all vintage Ferraris look best in arrest-me Rosso Corsa, this white-over-blue 250GT Cabriolet was an absolute stunner. The 14th of just 40 built, this gorgeous V12-powered convertible with a body by Peninfarina benefitted from a recent refresh, and looks just like it did when it was delivered in March 1958. It may not be the more desirable 250 GT California Spyder, but it still fetched $5.72 million.
2. 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato
This stunning Zagato-bodied DB4GT fell short of its $15-17 million presale estimate, but still fetched $14.3 million, making it the most expensive British car ever sold at auction. Originally exported to Australia, this Aston was successfully raced throughout the early ’60s. Recenty, it benefitted from a recent restoration (with assistance from Zagato), and a gorgeous green-over-green finish. James Bond be damned, this could be the most beautiful Aston Martin of all-time.
1. 1956 Ferrari 290 MM
If there’s anything out there that can outshine a desirable 250 at auction, it’s a vintage Ferrari with competition history. Add to it that it was campaigned by Juan Manuel Fangio – the Babe Ruth of racing – and you’ve got yourself a blockbuster. This V12-powered 290 MM was built for the 1956 World Sportscar Championship to take on the dominant Mercedes-Benz team. It was campaigned heavily from 1956-’58, and on top of Fangio taking fourth place in it at the Mille Miglia, it was also piloted by Phil Hill, Alfonso de Portago, and Olivier Gendebien. Ferraris with this kind of provenance are worth their weight in gold, and at Driven by Disruption, it didn’t disappoint. Fangio’s 290 MM found itself a new owner for $28 million, and set three records: It became the most expensive car sold in 2015, the most expensive car sold by RM Sotheby’s, and the most expensive car ever sold in New York City.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.
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