Last week, six cars that had previously competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans were sold at auction during Monterey Car Week in California. Impressively, they pulled in more than 50 million dollars (45+ million euros)!
Some of the estimations forecasted leading up to the event were dizzying, yet six of the seven cars from the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1935 and 2007 found buyers. Only the 1949 Aston Martin 2-liter Sport "DB1" remained, most likely due to its hectic history (read The remarkable story of an Aston Martin DB1 from the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans)…
Predictably, the lowest winning auction bid went to the most recent car, but the Aston Martin DBR9 at the start of the 2006 and 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans (read An Aston Martin DBR9 from the 2006 and 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans up at auction) still sold for 616,000 dollars (520,000 euros), nearly twice the original highest estimation of 325,000 dollars! On the other hand, its 1935 predecessor the Aston Martin Ulster (read The Aston Martin Ulster, eighth at the 1935 24 Hours of Le Mans, for sale in Monterey) barely exceeded its 2.1 million dollar estimation (the car sold for 2,172,500 dollars) whereas the 1955 Ferrari 121 LM (read For sale: one of the three official Ferrari 121 LMs from the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans) fell short when the new owner's winning bid secured the auto for "just" 5,720,000 dollars (4,850,000 euros) though RM Sothebys had estimated the Italian car would sell between 6.5 and 7.5 million dollars.
The famous auction house more than made up for the shortage with a new record set for an Aston Martin: 22,550,000 dollars (19.1 million euros), two million dollars more than the estimation for the DBR1 that took the start at Le Mans three times between 1956 and 1958 (read An Aston Martin DBR1 from the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans may exceed all expectations)! The windfall was rather expected given the rare nature of the car (only five ever produced), the identities of the drivers at the wheel of the DBR1/1 and the historic value of the DBR1 which allowed David Brown, owner of the British marque at the time, to make his dream of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans come true.
An eight-digit winning bid was also anticipated for the Porsche 917K that participated in the filming of Steven McQueen's movie "Le Mans," but only in preliminary sessions at the 1970 24 Hours of Le Mans. Despite a very modest pedigree, the car boasting Gulf Oil Company's colors (read A Porsche 917K involved in the filming of Steve McQueen's movie "Le Mans" is for sale!) sold within Gooding's price range for the tidy sum of 14,080,000 dollars (nearly 12 million euros).
Lastly, the Jaguar Type E entered by Briggs Cunningham at the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans ended up fetching only seven figures (read A Jaguar Type E from the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans up at auction in California), Bonhams had provided no estimation. Though it had only completed seven short laps at Le Mans, the Type E - which had served as a jewel in the American's personal museum for years - sold for 8,000,000 dollars (6.8 million euros) at the auction.
Though the Aston Martin DB1, just like the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 offered by Mecum that competed at the 4 Hours of Le Mans in 1972 (you read that correctly, it was indeed a four-hour race), failed to find buyers, the market for vintage cars is thriving. Let's hope fans will see these special racing cars at the start of the Le Mans Classic July 6, 7 and 8, 2018!
PHOTO (Copyright - Archives/ACO): The #14 Aston Martin DBR1 from the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans sold for more than 19 million euros.