Monterey Car Week sales slump to lowest in nearly a decade

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

Monterey sales slump cover Monterey sales slump cover

Car Week sales slide amidst auction blunder and turbulent global economy

Monterey Car Week auctions came to a close over the weekend, after six international auction houses sent 1,315 lots under the hammer.

Of those, 768 lots were successfully sold yielding a 58% sell-through rate and a total of USD$245.5 million (AU$362 million) in auction sales.

Those are dizzying numbers for the large majority of us common folk, but this actually presents a 34% decline in year-on-year sales totals. Monterey Car Week 2018 saw 1,376 lots cross the block with an ultimate sell-through rate of 61%, and a grand total of USD$367.5 million (AU$500 million) in sales.


Car Week 2019 resulted in the lowest total sales tally since 2011’s net total of USD$197 million (AU$290 milion), according to US valuation experts Hagerty.


A Hagerty insider stated: "whether it’s threat of recession, broad economic volatility or too many cars crammed into too few hours, there’s no denying this year’s Monterey Auction Week results were depressed when you compare the results to recent years".


While total sales, average sales price and sell-through rates were all down compared to recent years, Hagerty also noted that "performance against estimates" were also down in 2019. Sell-through rates on cars valued over USD$1 million was a mere 42% compared to a sell-through rate of 55% for auctions taken place over the past seven months.

RM Sotheby’s was the big achiever, with sales totalling USD$107 million (AU$158 million) alone. They had 184 lots up for grabs with 133 successfully sold with a sell-through rate of 72%. They also sold the most expensive car of the week, a 1994 McLaren F1 ‘LM Specification’, to the tune of USD$19.8 million (AU$29 million).


However, RM Sotheby’s also suffered a low point – where an embarrassing case of miscommunication saw the highly-publicised sale of the sole surviving 1939 Porsche Type 64 unsold, and the sale dead on the floor. The car was estimated to fetch up to USD$20 million, so its ignominious pass in made for a costly blow to RM Sotheby’s sales totals.

Hagerty further reported that there was still market strength to be found in cars valued under USD$75,000.


"Traditional classics from the 1960s and 1970s in this price bracket sold for above their condition-appropriate values more so than vehicles from other eras".

"This supports the ongoing trend that the entry level remains the healthiest and most active segment in the broader market outside the auctions" said Hagerty.

Top Ten Sales from all participating auction houses:

*Prices converted from USD to AUD

  1. 1994 McLaren F1 "LM-Spec" – Sold: $29,259,115 (RM Sotheby’s)
  2. 1958 Ferrari 250 California LWB Spider – Sold: $14,633,251 (Gooding & Company)
  3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Coupe – Sold: $12,035,052 (RM Sotheby’s)
  4. 1965 Ford GT40 Prototype Roadster – Sold: $11,303,640 (RM Sotheby’s)
  5. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet SI – Sold: $10,047,782 (Gooding & Company)
  6. 1965 Aston Martin DB5 "Bond Car" – Sold: $9,434,476 (RM Sotheby’s)
  7. 1975 Ferrari 312T F1 Race Car – Sold: $8,864,100 (Gooding & Company)
  8. 1960 Porsche 718 RS 60 Werks Race Car – Sold: $7,564,032 (RM Sotheby’s)
  9. 1958 Ferrari 250 GT TdF Coupe – Sold: $7,534,485 (Gooding & Company)
  10. 1951 Ferrari 340 America Berlinetta – Sold: $5,370,167 (Bonhams)


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