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The classic car auctions at the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, topped $400 million—less than last year—as Ferraris continued to rule top of the market.
The auction total for the week of the Concours was $390.6 million, according to Hagerty, a collectible-car insurance company. However, after adding in other auctions that have yet to report, Hagerty estimates the total for the weekend will be $410 million to $415 million.
The sales total was lower than last year's $428 million, which was boosted by the sale of a rare Ferrari 250 GTO, which, at $38 million, became the most expensive car ever sold at auction.
This year, all of the top three cars by price were Ferraris—with a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM Coupe auctioned by RM Sotheby's as the top car of the week, going for $17.6 million. At Gooding, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spyder sold for $16.8 million, while a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe fetched $16.5 million.
While the sales total met the early estimates, there were signs of weakness, and prices for many cars have stalled after years of scorching growth.This year, 803 cars were sold of the 1,386 up for auction. The 58 percent sales rate was lower than last year's 61 percent. The median sales price of $96,800 was also lower than last year's $99,000.
Some collectors said they're more reluctant to pay prices they feel have gotten too high and are reaching bubble territory. Others said recent weakness in the stock markets and slowing growth overseas reduced confidence among buyers.
McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, said buyers are simply becoming more discerning. They are still willing to pay top dollar for truly top cars, but they're unwilling to continue to bid up more common or lower quality models.
"Bidding generally seemed rational," he said."The dip in prices is a function of slowing momentum and the absence of last year's Ferrari GTO. Prices for special cars are increasing, prices for emerging segments (like 1980-'90s cars) are increasing, but elsewhere prices are consistent with what we witnessed during the January auctions."