A Ferrari bubble? Here's a $415 million test

Ferrari 488 GTB

How many Ferraris is too many Ferraris? The world may find out next week.

A record 112 classic Ferraris are headed to the auction blocks at the Concours d'Elegance in Pebble Beach and Monterey, California-marking the latest test for the increasingly frothy collectible car market. It may also signal whether the Ferrari boom of the past decade, with records set almost every year, can keep gaining speed.

The auctions are expected to hit a sales total of $415 million this year, according to collectible-car insurance company Hagerty.

That's below last year's total of $428 million, but last year's auctions got a one-time boost from the $38 million sale of a Ferrari 250 GTO, which became the most expensive car ever sold at auction.

The $415 million total would be more than 30 percent higher than the 2013 total and more than double the total of 2011. Even more staggering: There will be up to 141 cars that sell for $1 million or more, according to Hagerty. In 2010, just 36 cars sold for $1 million or more, showing just how rapidly collectible-car prices have soared.

McKeel Hagerty, the CEO of Hagerty, said he expects continued demand for collectible cars from wealthy buyers. He said that the quality of cars headed to auction just keeps getting better, and the sales results are more predictable.

"The market continues to show incredible strength," he said. "Imagine that in a single weekend, a group of people can absorb that many cars and that many transactions, and we'll have a pretty good sense of the outcome. There are fewer wild cards, and it's a much more predictable market today."

Ferraris continue to dominate the top of the collector car market, with all of the top five cars-and most of the top 10-at this year's auctions expected to be Ferraris. But the market for classic Ferraris may be tested with 112 Ferraris headed to the auction block this year, far more than past auctions.

"The question is whether there is demand for all these cars," said Marcel Massini, a Ferrari historian and collectible-car advisor. "I think we'll see strong results because there are some great Ferraris coming up for auction. But we've never seen so many of them."

Among the most expensive cars expected to sell next week are a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Competizione TdF being sold by RM Sotheby's that could fetch between $15 million and $20 million; a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione being sold by RM Sotheby's that could go for $17 million to $19 million; and a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder being auctioned by Gooding & Co. that could sell for $16 million to $18 million.

Among the non-Ferraris, a 1998 McLaren F1 LM-one of only two built-could go for between $12 million and $15 million, while a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Alloy Gullwing could fetch $5.5 million to $6.5 million.


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