Rare cars selling for high prices is nothing new at Classic Car Week on the Monterey Peninsula. But several records were set this year, including a 1962 Ferrari becoming the most expensive car ever sold at auction and a 1935 Duesenberg becoming the most expensive American car ever sold at auction.
The Ferrari 250 GTO, sold at RM Sotheby’s on August 25 as part of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, fetched $48.4 million. The 1935 Duesenberg SSJ formerly owned by Gary Cooper sold for $22 million at the Gooding & Co. Pebble Beach auction. It was also the most valuable pre-war car ever sold at auction.
The two records helped catapult total sales for the collectible car auctions to about $368 million, a 12 percent increase over last year. It was the first rise since the car market peak in 2014, according to Hagerty, the classic car insurance and research firm.
Ferrari sales are always high, but the 250 GTO remains the icon of automotive icons since only 36 were made. The 250 GTO dominated racing with more than 300 wins. It’s also often considered the most beautiful Ferrari ever built.
The 250 GTO was sold by Greg Whitten, a former Microsoft executive who bought the car in 2000 reportedly for 10 percent of its auction price last week. Whitten said he still owns about a dozen Ferrari models.
The Duesenberg was also the lone American-made entrant and this year’s 10 sellers at the six major auctions during Classic Car Week.
Gooding & Co. said it realized more than $116.5 million in auction sales over the weekend, with 25 cars sold for more than $1 million.
Gooding & Co. said there were five world-record sales at the auction. Joining the Duesenberg were a 1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial Series II, which sold for $5.005 million; a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta, $6.6 million; a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTC Speciale, $3.41 million; and a one-of-two 1966 Ferrari Dino Berlinetta GT, $3.08 million.
The convertible Duesenberg coupe was only two of its kind built. The other was owned by Clark Gable.
The two vehicles feature a 125-inch wheelbase, a supercharged straight-eight with double overhead cams. It produces 400 horsepower and a top speed of 140 miles per hour.
Article Last Updated: August 27, 2018.
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A sports, travel and business journalist for more than 45 years, James has written the new car review column The Weekly Driver since 2004.
In addition to this site, James writes a Sunday automotive column for The San Jose Mercury and East Bay Times in Walnut Creek, Calif., and a monthly auto review column for Gulfshore Business, a magazine in Southwest Florida.
An author and contributor to many newspapers, magazines and online publications, James has co-hosted The Weekly Driver Podcast since 2017.