WORDS: NATHAN CHADWICK | PHOTOS: MECUM
It’s not even February yet and the 2024 classic car market is already underway, with Mecum’s Kissimmee sale kicking things off with 4000 lots passing through its sales room over 13 days. This year was a landmark year, with more high-end Ferraris than ever – you can read John Mayhead’s analysis of those sales here.
Away from the Prancing Horse, there were several eye-opening results and, more crucially, perhaps some warnings about this year’s trends. We’ve pulled out some of the interesting results, no-sales and surprises. Which cardid you want to go home with?
Brightness at the Blue Oval
The highest-value car that didn’t wear a Ferrari badge was this 1966 Ford GT40 Mk1 road car, one of 30 built and first delivered to its Italian owner – Antonio Allecce – with options such as a high-pressure oil pump, a race exhaust system in addition to the road set-up, and a spare wheel and tyre. Its next owner was Targa Florio, Carrera Panamericana and Sebring 12 Hours winner – and Ferrari driver – Umberto Maglioli. He eventually sold it to Augusto Coli, near Como. Coli would keep the car for 15 years, before selling it to a German owner via a dealer in London; it would subsequently be shown at the Nürburgring Museum for several years. Another West German owner then took ownership, entrusting it to Ruf Automobiles of Porsche-fettling fame for a full restoration. It sold for $6.93m.
Newer variations on the Ford ‘GT’ theme had mixed results, and somewhat peculiarly, mirrored colour schemes between the sales. One of 69 yellow-with-black stripes GTs (a 2006 car) sold for $445k with less than 1000 miles on the clock, whereas a 2006 GT Heritage Edition, one of 343 built in the familiar blue-and-orange livery, and with marginally fewer miles, sold for $643,500. The latest take on the GT theme had two offerings, a 2021 Ford GT Carbon Series in yellow, and a 2020 Ford GT MkII in bespoke Gulf livery. The former sold for $990k on 19 miles, while the latter, wearing 44 miles, was unsold with an estimate of between $1.55m and $1.7m.
The hard SL
Mecum offered three Mercedes-Benz 300 SLs – one Gullwing and two Roadsters – with one Roadster failing to find a home out of the trio. The above car, a 1956 Gullwing that had been in one-family ownership until 2006 and was restored by RM Auto, sold for $2.035m, while the Roadster that found a home sold for just over $1.4m. It’s the 300 SL’s 70th anniversary year in 2024, and the Gullwing’s result, while not a record, was the highest result achieved since Gooding & Co.’s Pebble Beach sale in 2022, although some way short of Mecum’s own Pewter Grey sale at Kissimmee in 2022 ($2.6m).
Anniversary fever isn’t always a boon – witness some pretty disappointing sales for the Aston Martin DB5 last year, while the glut of Porsches in 2023 meant there were some disappointing results there, too. The 300 SL isn’t particularly rare – 3258 were built of all kinds. Could this result have benefitted from being the first out of the gate? The result for the Roadster that sold wasn’t anywhere near the highest peaks for the model, but was the highest US price since RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale in 2023 – a year that saw many 300 SL Roadsters unsold. It’s perhaps too early to tell if the 300 SL is ready to take flight again…
There was pretty much a Corvette for every taste among the 500-plus offered (including 28 Split Windows), although the highest-estimated single-lot car failed to find a home. The only known Rally Red on Red 1967 L88 Coupe failed to sell against an estimate of $3.4m and $3.8m; however, some sites report that it has sold (more on that when we get it). The above car did sell on the day, though – and again, it was a unique specification that carried the weight. The only Tuxedo Black-over-Red Z06/N03, one of just 63 N03 fuel-tank cars built, sold for $935k, more than $100k over Harley Earl’s personal styling car ($803k). However, perhaps the most talked-about Vette lot was the two-car offering of the first and last L88s – the pair sold for $2.585m.
Cobra scales up
A $4.18m result placed chassis CSX3006 fourth on the list of highest-value Cobra 427s ever. This is one of 23 original 437 Competition Cobras built, and it was campaigned in Europe by The Chequered Flag racing team from England. During its competition heyday it was raced by Chris Irwin, David Piper and Bob Bondurant, who took it to first place at the 1966 Ilford Films 500 at Brands Hatch. In more recent years it’s appeared at such concours d’elegance as Pebble Beach, Villa d’Este and Amelia Island.
Silver turns to gold… sometimes
Here’s a tale of two 1980s-90s hypercar heroes – the above 1987 Porsche 959 Komfort and a 1993 Jaguar XJ220, both finished in silver. Ten more 959s were built than XJ220s (282 vs 292), but just one sold on the day – the Porsche, for the third-highest result for a Komfort model at $1.875m. We’re expecting more 959s to come out of the woodwork as the car celebrates its 40th year. The XJ220, meanwhile, was pretty much perfect – it scored 9.998 at the The Jaguar Club of Florida Concours d’Elegance and had covered 703 miles – and its pre-sale estimate of $700k to $800k reflected that; the last XJ220 to sell on American soil was RM Sotheby’s car at Monterey last year at $687k. The cult of Porsche is all pervading, and it is the 959’s anniversary year – but for cars that are so similar in many ways, there’s a big gap in values.
The Tucker 48 – otherwise known as the Car of Tomorrow when marketed – was a technical marvel, featuring innovations that have failed to catch on many decades later. This particular car is number 21 of 51 built, and one of only four produced in black. With just three owners from new, it had its original floors and body panels, although it was converted to coil-spring suspension in the 1960s. On the day it sold for $1.87m.
Top Mopar went to this Lemon Twist-coloured Plymouth Hemi Cuda 426/425, one of just 14 produced for the 1970 model year, and one of nine with automatic transmission. Chassis BS27R0B305097 had been treated to a bare-metal, rotisserie restoration by Legendary Motorcar in Ontario, and sold for $2.145m – more than the $1.98m it sold for at Mecum’s Indy 2019 sale, but less than the $2.4m-$2.7m it was estimated at – but unsold at – in Mecum’s 2022 Kissimmee sale. For reference, a manual Lemon Twist car was sold by Mecum in 2016 for $2.675m.
Ready for another gust?
On the subject of anniversaries, it’s Maserati’s 110th this year – and the Giugiaro-penned Ghibli is arguably the brand’s most widely loved design. With 1274 built, it’s also one of the most mass-produced of the pre-De Tomaso era, which is reflected by the wildly varying prices seen at auction. This particular car was one of 425 SS models with a 330bhp, 4.9-litre version of the V8 engine, and was described as being “cosmetically refreshed, including paint”. The $163,350 achieved perhaps reflected its condition, but considering Gooding & Co. sold an SS for $313k at Pebble Beach last year, perhaps there was room for improvements for Mecum’s car?
Modern Porsche panic?
If you’re an avid viewer of YouTube car videos, you may have caught sight of the increasingly histrionic videos made by a succession of channels about the ‘death’ of the Porsche market in particular. While prices have slipped, ‘death’ is somewhat over-stating it, but the market for new Porsches has taken a bit of a hit, as exemplified by the results – or lack thereof – of the above 992 GT3 RS and 992 Dakar. Both were 2023 cars, the GT3 having covered fewer than 300 miles and the Dakar fewer than 40. Neither found a home, when usually the clamour for such models would lead to a vast increase over RRP when the first owner ‘flips’ the car.
Just using the UK market as an example, there are currently 16 GT3 RS out there, with a good proportion from official Porsche dealers, while in the US there are four within 400 miles of Los Angeles alone through Porsche’s Approved Used scheme. Both cars have reviewed well in the motoring press – but have the days of flipping come to an end? Anecdotally, several serial 911 owners have become displeased at their treatment by Porsche dealers, while others love their late-model 991 GT3s so much they don’t see the value of trading up in a flippers’ market, especially as it might just be a bit too much to enjoy on the road, as we found out.
For more on the Mecum auction, head here.