Ferraris Left Unsold After Record-Breaking Testa Rossa Auction

An undated handout image, provided to the media on Monday, Feb. 16, 2009, shows a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

Classic-car specialist RM Auctions is in negotiations to find buyers for several high-value speedsters that failed at its “Ferrari Leggenda e Passione” sale at Maranello, Italy, on May 17.

The final lot, a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, sold to a telephone buyer for 9 million euros ($12.2 million) with fees, a record for any car offered at auction. It had been expected to fetch up to 12 million euros, RM Auctions said before the sale at the Italian carmaker’s factory near Modena. Several other substantially estimated lots failed on the day.

Buyers and sellers are more hesitant at car auctions than they were a year ago because of the economic slump. Success rates at some classic-car sales remain relatively high, as more lots go unsold in other parts of the auction market.

A Ferrari 330 P4 that came third in the 1967 Le Mans 24- hour race and was subsequently converted for daytime CanAm racing was unsold at a bid of 7.25 million euros. It had been expected to fetch 8 million euros. A 1962 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder (SWB), estimated to fetch at least 4.3 million euros, was also a casualty. Both cars had U.S.-based sellers.

“Quite a few of the American vendors had too-high reserves,” John Collins, director of the U.K.-based Ferrari dealers Talacrest Limited, said. “Because of fluctuations in the exchange rate, it’s now more expensive for Europeans to buy cars from America.”

Over the last 12 months, the euro and the pound have respectively lost 12 percent and 20 percent of their value against the U.S. dollar.

Moss’s Maserati

Among three Maseratis included in the sale, the 250F racing car in which Stirling Moss won the 1956 Monaco Grand Prix failed against a low estimate of 1.7 million euros.

“Single-seat racers are always difficult to sell,” Simon Kidston, a Geneva-based classic-car adviser, said in a telephone interview. “The recovery hasn’t started in earnest. Sellers need to adjust their expectations.”

The 2009 auction, which was staged in association with Sotheby’s, raised 21.2 million euros, said RM. A total of 75 percent of the cars sold, and 95 percent of the memorabilia, Kerrey Kerr-Enskat, RM Auctions’ director of public relations, said in an e-mail. The sale last year took 29 million euros.

“In the current environment, I thought the sale was going to be terrible,” Collins said in a telephone interview. “It did far better than I expected.”

He was in negotiations with RM to buy two cars, both priced in “seven figures,” that failed to sell at auction, Collins said.

Coburn’s Spyder

At last May’s sale at Maranello, U.K. television and radio host Chris Evans paid 7 million euros (then $10.9 million) with fees for a black 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder. The price was then an auction record. The Ferrari had formerly been owned by the movie actor James Coburn.

Higher prices have been achieved for classic cars through privately negotiated sales.

Within the last eight months, two 1960s Ford GTO racers have sold for $20 million each, said dealers.

“In January, I offered a collector $22 million for a GTO and was turned down,” Collins said. “He wanted $30 million.”

Another example of the 170 mph Testa Rossa was sold privately for $15 million in 2007, Kidston said. The most desirable models competed in the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race, he said. The Maranello open-top Testa Rossa didn’t have a Le Mans history, said RM.

Among the other successes at the Italian auction were a 1959 Ferrari 250GT California (LWB) at a price of 2.1 million euros. A 1964 Ferrari 500 Superfast, the most expensive production car of its time, sold for 715 000euros against a high estimate of 500 000 euros.

“Beautiful cars like these appeal to new younger buyers,” Collins said. “They go for looks. The market is much softer for competition cars. Ten to 15 years ago, they were hot to sell.”

Published in: on May 23, 2009 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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