Hundreds of thousands of people, their wallets stuffed with cash and armed with lines of credit, charge cards and checkbooks, will descend this Friday on California's Monterey peninsula for the annual Monterey Car Week. The annual event concludes on Aug. 15 with the iconic Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and includes numerous auctions that often set record prices for collector automobiles.
"We have seen a lot of clients who have decided that it's time to sell their classic but they're then going ahead and buying something new, the market's been very strong," RM Sotheby's Ian Kelleher told Yahoo Finance Live.
RM Sotheby's three-day auction starts next week on Aug. 12 and Kelleher said the 164 lots could bring in more than $190 million in sales. "Unfortunately without the international clientele that really do come to Monterey, come to Pebble Beach, there will be, I think, a dip in terms of attendance," Kelleher said. Still, sales are expected to exceed 2015 when RM Sotheby's sold $178 million at the height of the market, according to Kelleher.
Auction houses sold $370 million worth of collectible cars in 2018, during Monterey Car Week, but the market fell to $245 million in 2019 just before the COVID-19 pandemic decimated sales, according to Hagerty, which tracks global collector car sales.
In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hagerty told clients, "Given the drastic differences in virtually everything between 2019 and 2020, comparing overall sales results between the two years would yield misleading results." But Hagerty said prices for cars sold online, during the height of the pandemic, were slightly stronger than the year before.
A possible Porsche auction record
"We're anticipating a good response going into Monterey and we have a lot of people that have signed up to register to bid almost on par with 2020, 2019," Kelleher said.
A 1970 Porsche 917K could set a record for a Porsche sold at auction if it fetches the $16 million to $18.5 million RM Sotheby's expects. "It's a spectacular example. It's unbelievable restoration. And what you're seeing is it basically prepared in the exact configuration that it raced at Le Mans in 1970," Kelleher said.
Also drawing attention this year is a private collection of Aston Martin sports cars that includes a rare 1962 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato which is expected to sell between $11 million and $14 million.
"What makes these so special is they were effectively the greatest car Aston Martin ever built," said Kelleher. Aston Martin built 19 of the Zagato-bodied vehicles and the one coming to auction is one of six that have a steering wheel on the left side.
Kelleher is excited about the return to Pebble Beach because "we are expecting a strong, strong amount of clients and a strong amount of attendees for the auction and for all the different car shows."
Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance Live 3pm to 5pm. Follow him on Twitter @Ajshaps