If you’re wondering what the sale of $475m worth of classic metal last week at Monterey meant for the price of your 1964 EH Holden then let’s separate the fake news, spin, dissimulations, misinformation, lies and taradiddles and focus on the real facts.
For a start, Monterey Car Week is actually two weeks.
Second, for all the talk of records, the reality is that while a few cars, like the 1995 McLaren F1, did bring $30m (at today’s woeful exchange rates), most of the top 20 highest sellers went at or below reserve.
What Monterey did show, apart from the fact that even reasonably rich persons of mainly the white persuasion can still enjoy the over 100 events in the capital of John Steinbeck (book writer and serious petrol head) land, good cars are going to sell better at a live event. It also, hopefully, signalled the end of flipping cars from auction to auction.
Given the bull (in all senses of the word) market in classic cars, paintings, watches, houses, dogs and toothbrush holders, dealers have been able to buy, say, an old Maser, for a million in April and sell for $1.5m in September. Those cars didn’t sell last week.
But the bottom line is that the same brands bring the same big prices in the same auctions wherever in the world you are. The 10 biggest sales were five Fezzers, the Macca, an Aston Martin DB4, a lovely 1929 Bugatti, a 1963 Cobra and a 1928 Merc.
Talking of Maccas, a special deal for you from the Macca factory. Two (or more depending on the state of your cunning kick) days driving for two people in a $400k McLaren GT, 300km from the Arctic Circle on one of Finland’s famous frozen lakes, transformed into a vast ice-driving circuit with a Macca driver coach (probably Lando or Danny), three nights in an igloo with ice pool and sauna, husky sledding and gourmet reindeer dinners, all for $45k no more to pay (except the cost of exporting enough Coopers to Lapland to last three nights).
All this happens in February when the air temp is a balmy -27C and where the sun comes up and at 11am and goes back to bed at 2pm.
Some of you may remember when my youngest son and I took six dogpower sleds through the Arctic Circle. Given the lack of daylight hours it is necessary to drive (the sleds) through the afternoon night.
Thundering through the dark holding on for grim death to a bamboo sled has a lot of consequences, not the least of which is your inability to see the flying number twos coming from running huskies. Talking of which trying to do a number one has its risks.
Anyway, it was only old cars that sold at Monterey.
Hennessey Special Vehicles, which normally focuses on tripling the power in your street car, sold all 24 of its brand new, built from the ground up to be the fastest car on this or any other planet, twin-turbocharged, 6.6-litre V8 hypercar 1400KW Venom F5 Hypercar in Monterey.
Founder John Hennessy told me on Friday by press release: “The F5 aims to exceed 500km/h on a two-way validated speed run along St Georges Tce in Perth using a production specification car. The first Venom F5 coming off the line is for a customer and is trimmed to their specification in ‘Butterscotch’ leather with black leather and Alcantara accents. There are also a few touches of green in the car, which are placed as a nod to the mantra ‘green means go’.”
Of course, the Venom comes with Apple Play, which means you can enjoy the beats from the Museum of Modern Art’s Automania exhibition. I’d go after your ice drive of the Macca in Lapland.
The exhibition addresses the conflicted feelings – compulsion, fixation, desire, and rage – that developed in response to cars and car culture in the 20th century. In other words, MOMA have put some cars in the sculpture garden and asks patrons to consider the complicated love affair we have with our metal.
Naturally there’s a 1965 Porker, a phallic 1963 E-Type, a love on the bonnet 1959 Beetle and an achingly sensual 1948 Cisitalia 202 GT. Best of all is the Automania playlist: I’m in love with my car. As the curators say: Songs about cars reveal a very complex relationship: love, sex, freedom and tragedy.
Now I’m not sure our friends at New York house of art haven’t been spending the summer also collecting the kind of art that goes up the nostrils, but here’s what they tell me: “In music, as in life, a car is rarely just a car.
For every song about a teen hot-rodder having fun until Daddy takes their T-Bird away, there are a hundred that speak to our far more fraught love affair with the automobile – tales of economic hardship and institutional oppression (Fast Car, Drive Slow), bittersweet dreams of upward mobility (Used Cars, Mercedes Benz), anthems of freedom from the drudgery of “normal” life (Airstream Song, On the Road Again), or wildly unsubtle sexual innuendos (Little Red Corvette, I’m in Love with My Car)”.
So with all this talk of sex and cars, why not forget used cars, new hyercars and look at the Rolls-Royce Bovet 1822 Boat Tail or, as we call them in Australia, utes. Basically it’s a hand-built Roller with what looks like a wooden deck or hard ute cover on the rear.
You press a button and the tarp opens to reveal your own pub complete with champagne chest, two bottles of Armand de Brignac vintage cuvée, caviar and blinis. Cocktail tables open on either side of the deck to provide access to a couple of picnic stools.
Naturally each Roller comes complete with an Esky of Coopers Sparkling. But wait, there’s more: each one also has a couple of reversible Bovet tourbillon timepieces, each designed to be worn on the wrist, used as a table clock, pendant or pocket timepiece, or placed within the fascia as Boat Tail’s timepiece.
Bovet only makes 1800 timepieces a year and it looks like the BMW-owned Roller company will only make three boat tails ever. At $36m a piece, that probably makes sense.