Auction Houses Bring Collectors' Dream Machines to Pebble Beach's Antique and Vintage Car Auction

One of three Crockers offered by Bonhams that was created in pre-World War II Los Angeles by Al Crocker himself.
(Courtesy Bonhams)

Automobile aficionados of the highest order will converge on the 18th fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links on August 19 for what is considered the Super Bowl of antique and vintage car events, the Concours d’Elegance, now in its 62nd year. As they do, auctioneers from Bonhams, RM Auctions, and Gooding & Company will offer cars to rival that show’s highlights.

Bonhams leads off, presenting both automobiles and motorcycles at its August 16 and 17 auction on the western lawn of the Quail Lodge in Carmel. A McLaren F1 GTR racer built in 1997 heads the billing. Specialist Eric Minoff admits that “it’s hard to call it a ‘vintage’ race car,” but he notes the car’s unique appeal. “The F1 came on the scene in the ‘90s and held the land speed record until the mid-aughts, which is amazing For a decade, nothing could go faster.” As for motorcycles, where collectors can snag a prize for six figures or less, the house will offer three Crockers (one at right), created in pre–World War II Los Angeles by Al Crocker himself. Only 125 were made, with 50 accounted for today.

At the Monterey Conference Center on August 17 and 18, RM Auctions will hold its sale with around 120 lots, including a 1955 Ferrari 410 Sport Berlinetta. The second of only four model manufactured, the Sport Berlinetta, repainted red in the 1960s, features a unique Scaglietti body. Also hitting the block: a 1938 Talbot-Lago T23 Teardrop coupe.

Crowning the festivities, a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, left, will headline Gooding’s 120-lot sale August 18 and 19. “I’ve been chasing this car for years and years,” says company founder David Gooding. Only 20 were made, and most of them were commandeered by the Nazis during World War II. This restored example, designed by Hermann Ahrens, belonged to baroness

Gisela von Krieger, of Berlin, who brought it with her to the United States when she fled Europe. The car is no stranger to Pebble Beach, having won its class at the Concours in 2004. In this increasingly rarefied car market, Gooding notes, “it’s really difficult to put an estimate on a car like this. The highest price one of these models has sold for is $10 million, but we think it will far exceed that.”

To see images from the Concours d'Elegance sale, click the slide show.

This article appears in the July/August issue of Art+Auction.