Holy Ferraris, Batman!
The $4.6 million sale of TV's original Batmobile grabbed most of the headlines from the Scottsdale car auction this weekend, but the huge prices paid for Ferraris and other exotics were the real story.
Two Ferraris sold for more than $8 million, and 23 cars sold for more than $1 million in Scottsdale. That helped set an all-time sales total record for Scottsdale of $223.8 million—$40 million more than the record set last year, and $60 million more than the pre-crisis peak of $163 million in 2007.
McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty—the collectible-car insurer and price-tracker—said that the auction sales and recent private transactions show that the collectible-car market is roaring to new levels. Even pick-up trucks and Broncos are selling for hundreds of thousands, with one 1969 Ford Bronco selling for $500,000 in Scottsdale. (The bidding was aided a bit because the proceeds went to charity.)
"It's almost a little shocking," he said. "There has been this 30- to 40-year run-up. But barring any outside negatives, the future looks very bright for the market right now."
Craig Jackson, the CEO of auctioneer Barrett-Jackson—which topped $100 million at Scottsdale—said that many of the buyers in 2006 and 2007 were in real-estate. Today, many of the buyers are in oil and gas.
"You see a lot of guys now making their money from fracking," he said.
Of course, not all collectible cars are selling. About 17 percent of the cars failed to sell at Scottsdale this year, up slightly from last year's 15 percent. Hagerty said one of the "flatter" parts of the market is American classics from the 1940s and 1950s—especially those cars that have had highly customized updates.
But the average sale price this year of $100,176 per car beat last year's price of $85,169. Ferraris continue to lead the way. A pair of Ferrari 250 GT's topped the sales charts. Hagerty said that because the vintage racing Ferraris have such global appeal, rich collectors from virtually every country are now bidding against each other for the top Ferraris— creating a price class of its own.
"It's a more globally balanced market now, where buyers can come from anywhere," he said.
Hagerty added that while the big prices get all the attention, buying a collectible car doesn't have to cost millions—or even $100,000.
(Read more: Lamborghini Miami Strikes Gold Among Foreign Rich)
"It's about success not excess," he said. "It's about owning something fun that you've always wanted, or didn't know you wanted."
Here, according to Hagerty, are the top 10 sales by price, along with the auction companies that sold them (prices include buyer's premiums).
- 1958 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Spider sold for $8,250,000 (Gooding)
- 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competizione Berlinetta sold for $8,140,000 (RM)
- Batmobile Sold for $4,620,000 (Barrett)
- 1959 Porsche 718 RSK Roadster sold for $3,135,000 (Gooding)
- 1957 Maserati 150 GT Spider sold for $3,080,000 (Gooding)
- 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Cabriolet A sold for $2,750,000 (Gooding)
- 1933 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe sold for $2,695,000 (Gooding)
- 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Speciale Coupe sold for $2,365,000 (Gooding)
- 1947 Talbot-Lago Record T26 Grand Sport Coupe sold for $2,035,000 (Barrett)
- 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $2,035,000 (Barrett)