A $20M McLaren F1 and Other Collector Car Absurdity From Pebble Beach
Someone spent $156,250 on a half-scale Grand Prix car that tops out at 50 mph.
A car's price and its driving experience have never strongly correlated, and their association has only weakened with the commoditization of the classic car market. This was on full display at Pebble Beach last week, where deep-pocketed collectors and speculators shelled out a combined $343 million on cars. What's more, nearly a tenth of that was spent on just two cars sold by Gooding & Company.
Some of the many purchases there were understandable, while others were less so, like the Ferrari Dino bid to a higher price than a Lamborghini Countach—the original, not that sad new Aventador. We've collected a mix of both here, some of whose buyers you may sympathize with, while others might make you scoff before switching tables at the country club.
1967 Porsche 911 2.0 S Targa: $428,500
If you paid 400 grand for an air-cooled, 160-horsepower car from Japan, people would tell you you're nuts. Drop that on a Porsche, though, and it's suddenly a solid investment. An appreciating asset. An all-around good buy. Yes, it's numbers-matching, and no, it doesn't have a ton of mileage. But you can tell when someone has never been asked how they'd spend a million dollars like it's not a given that they would.
1995 McLaren F1: $20,465,000
The rationale behind this, the most expensive McLaren F1 ever sold, is remarkably simple. It's the only example of the greatest road car in history that was painted brown from the factory, and it has only ever covered about 240 miles. It has traveled way more distance on cargo planes and trailers than it has under its own power. I've walked my dog further than that just this year.
That's probably not going to change, either, as the kind of person who spends twenty mil on a pristine, one-of-one car will want it to stay that way.
1959 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider Competizione (LWB): $10,840,000
If you can say that name in one breath, the U.S. Olympic swim team wants a word. This was one of just 50 long-wheelbase versions of the 250 GT California Spider, of which around 10 were built to race-spec, with alloy bodywork, a bigger fuel tank, a limited-slip differential, and more highly tuned engines. At nearly $11 million, you'd expect this car won at Le Mans or something, but nope, all it ever took were class victories at a couple of Italian hill climbs.
That might not always be the case if its new owner decides to take it vintage racing and go door-to-door with other eight-figure exotics, but don't cross your fingers.
1929 Bugatti Type 35B: $5,615,000
As one of the most iconic cars in Grand Prix racing history, this Type 35 can only be one of the priciest—especially if it was works-operated, won two races in 1929, and later owned by Louis Chiron himself. Yes, that Chiron. Even so, imagine writing that check only to lean in close to the seller and ask "hey, uh, how do you work an unsynchronized transmission?"
1985 Allegretti 250F kiddie car: $156,250
That's 250F as in Maserati, whose own greatest Grand Prix racer was reproduced at half scale with a Benelli motorcycle engine, sequential five-speed transmission, and four-wheel disc brakes. Flat out, it'll apparently hit a top speed of 50 mph, which is a speed most parents would balk at their children doing in the open air.
1992 Ferrari F40: $2,892,500
F40s top many lists of the greatest Ferraris in history, so it comes as no surprise that one with scarcely 2,500 miles should sell for nearly three mil. Take a moment the winning bidder may not have had, though, and ask yourself if you'd spend that money on an F40 or something more modern. A Chiron, perhaps? It is, after all, more than twice the car in many respects.
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