Steve McQueen's magic touch helped push a 1970 race car to become the most expensive Porsche ever sold, auctioning for over $14 million over the weekend.
The sale, along with big prices for a famed Aston Martin and McLaren supercar, helped push the auction total for the sales at the Concours d'Elegance at Pebble Beach over the weekend to more than $327 million. The total was better than the $290 million expected, but 3 percent short of last year's total, according to Hagerty, a classic-car insurance company. A total of 745 cars sold out of 1,277 cars being auctioned, with an average price of $439,361 — about on par with last year.
The results — over four days and six auction companies — show that while the classic-car market is still stalled after peaking in 2014, the recent volatility in the stock market and uncertainty in Washington haven't created added pressure on the market. Still, like the art market and other collectibles, the classic-car market is split in two, with the rarest, highest-quality masterpieces fetching top dollar, but the rest of the market still highly price-sensitive.
Hagerty said the high-end of the market, cars priced over $250,000, was "buoyant" over the weekend and that cars from the 1980s and 1990s performed the best because collectors are getting younger.
The three stars of the weekend, however, were all singular icons in the car world. The top seller was a 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 — one of only six built and a car that has become legend in British racing. The car sold for $22.6 million at RM Sotheby's.
The number two seller was a 1995 McLaren F1 Coupe — considered by many to be the ultimate modern supercar. It sold for $15.6 million — a huge increase from the car's original sales price of $1 million in 1995.
Ferraris continue to dominate the top 10 sellers at Pebble Beach. They accounted for six of the top 10 sellers, with the top Ferrari — a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/C Coupe — sold by Gooding & Co. for $14.5 million.
The big star of the weekend, however, was the McQueen Porsche auctioned by Gooding & Co. The 1970 917K was used in McQueen's movie "Le Mans," a cult classic among wealthy collectors. While the car was used as a camera car and was not actually driven by McQueen, it appeared in many scenes in the movie and is considered by many to be one of the ultimate McQueen collectibles.
The Porsche was expected to fetch $13 million to $16 million, so it sold for well within its expected range. McQueen cars and collectibles carry a huge premium in the market, since wealthy collectors continue to worship the "King of Cool."
A Porsche 911 Turbo once owned by McQueen sold for just under $2 million last year, while similar Porsches usually sell for around $100,000 to $150,000. The watch McQueen wore in "Le Mans" once sold for $800,000 and the racing suit and jacket he wore sold for just under $1 million.
"Steve McQueen is really at the top of the car mythology," said David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding. "If you're a car guy, this Porsche is your nirvana."
Apparently, one anonymous wealthy buyer agreed.