2023 Auction News

December, 2023

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Based on comments from dealers and other players in the vintage car business, the overall market for classic cars in 2023 was not as strong as in previous years. This was predominantly because the overall economy caused consumers to cut spending on non-essentials, such as the classic car hobby. However, there were some exceptions.  Some high-end models, such as European sports cars and other hot collectibles like Z28 Camaros and Hemi-powered Mopars remained in demand.  Also, vehicles with rare options, a unique story, or flashy factory colors attracted collectors.

Despite the challenging market in 2023, there were several cars that were highlights of the auction scene for the year, proving once again that auto enthusiasts will always step up when special vehicles are offered for sale.

Significant Sales in 2023
Winged Cars

The Mecum Kissimmee auction, which kicked off the calendar year, again offered a staggering number of  vehicles – this year almost 4000.   Over a dozen of these cars sold for a million or more.  Several others were bid into the 7-figures, but because they didn’t meet the reserve price, they didn’t sell.    One of the major stories at this auction was a colorful collection of 11 Mopar “Winged Cars,”  Dodge Daytonas and Plymouth Superbirds.   Most sold between $300K to $400K, but a Copper Metallic Hemi Daytona selling for $1.4M.   For more on this sale, click here.

1970 Rapid Transit Cuda

The 1970 Plymouth Cuda Rapid Transit System (RTS) Show Car contributed to making Mecum’s Spring auction in Indy one of the more exciting sales of the year. At a final price of $2,200,000, the Cuda sold for three times its pre-sale estimate.  Probably no one was more surprised than its builder, Chuck Miller, who later said he was left speechless.

In the below video, Chuck shared his reaction to the sale, as well as his involvement in the car-customizing frenzy during the ‘70s.  You will probably recognize several of his creations BITD.

For more on this sale, click here.

1970 Dodge “Black Ghost”

Urban legends, even if not completely factual, make for good stories.  Here’s one that is more fact than fiction – a 1970 Dodge Hemi Challenger that became known as the “Black Ghost.”  At a time when stop light racing along the famed Woodward Avenue in Detroit was in its heyday, there were tales of a black Challenger that only came out at night on rare occasions to take on all comers.  It would then disappear for weeks.  It turns out that the elusive muscle car was piloted by an off-duty Detroit police officer whose family held on to the street racer before cosigning it for sale at Mecum’s Indy’s auction.  The all-original Hemi car sold for $1,072,000.

1962 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider

Any time a ‘60s era Ferrari crosses the auction block you can expect it will attract some serious collectors.  At this year’s Amelia Island auctions, Gooding and Co. offered a rare 1962 Ferrari 250 GT California Spider that was an original factory show car with added features such as covered headlights.  This car, which was one of only 37 with this special option, sold for $18,045,000.

1957 Jaguar XKSS

A legendary Jaguar XKSS is rarely offered for auction since most of them reside in museums.  This year, RM Sotheby’s had one of the best examples on their Monterey docket – a numbers matching Jaguar that had been a regular on West Cost race tracks back in the day.  Essentially a LeMans winning D-Type without the vertical rear fin, this beauty sold for $13,205,000.

2022 Bugatti Chiron Profilée

New cars typically don’t make headlines at auctions but here is a big exception.  RM Sotheby’s Paris auction featured a 2022 Bugatti Chiron Profilee which is the latest hyper car from the storied marque.  Having 1,600 horse power, this street-legal rocket is capable of speeds in excess of 236 MPH, limited only by it factory electronics.   However, how quickly the car arrives at its destination is only limited by drivers’ nerves.   The new owner paid $10,500,000 for the fastest sports car with top-of-line interior comforts.  The sale broke the record price for a new car sold at auction.

1962 Ferrari GTO 330 LM

Arguably the biggest auction news item for 2023 was the sale of one of the highly-prized 1962 Ferrari GTOs.  Of the 34 built with Tipo coachwork, this car was the only one originally equipped with a larger 4-liter engine making it one-of-a-kind.  For this auction, RM Sotheby’s elected to offer only this car, which ultimately resulted in a monumental sale for a one-car auction.  Bidding started at $34,000,000, initially increasing by increments of $2 million and then $1 million until the winning bid hammered down at $47,000,000 ($51,705,000 with sales commission).   It took only 10 minutes of bidding to set a new record price for a Ferrari.

Overview of 2023 Auction Action

That’s a wrap for 2023 but auctions restart on January 2nd, 2024 with a whole new group of coveted collectibles.  Stay tuned as we follow the bidding at events around the country for rare cars and record pricing.

Sale prices listed above include sales commission.