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Bugatti, Aston Martin, and other historic cars to sell at auction that could generate $60 million

The historic King Leopold 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports could fetch more than $12 million dollars when it goes up for sale at Gooding & Company's "Passion of a Lifetime" London auction April 1.

Some of the rarest and most valuable collector cars in the world will cross the auction block for the first time ever, April 1, with sales that could generate up to $60 million. “I literally thought I would never have the opportunity to sell these cars that I thought they were out of our reach,” said Gooding & Company founder and president, David Gooding.

The “Passion of a Lifetime” auction will be Gooding & Company’s first ever in London and will feature 16 extremely rare Bugatti, Aston Martin, and other highly desirable historic cars. “I would be extremely surprised if they were ever seen on the market again,” he said.

Once in a lifetime

The automobiles being auctioned come from a “revered private collection” in the U.K., according to Gooding. The seller can no longer drive the cars, including a 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports that once belonged to King Leopold III of Belgium. Gooding says the famous race car is expected to sell for more than $13 million and is “considered by historians to be the ultimate Bugatti Grand Prix car.”

Gooding calls it a technical marvel having won the Belgian Grand Prix among its several milestones. “To this day, it remains in outstanding unrestored condition appearing as it did in King Leopold III’s possession,” according to Gooding. Only five of the Type 59 Sports still exist and one is owned by famed fashion magnate Ralph Lauren.

Gooding says a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante will attract global attention and most likely sell for more than $9 million.

Bugatti built just 17 of the type 57S Atalante. “This car in 1937 was so beautiful and advanced looking for its age, not only looking but then performing. You know it's a car that will do 125 miles an hour in 1937. It was the fastest car of its day. It was one of the most expensive cars of its day. It was one of the most beautiful cars of its day,” Gooding said.

Sputtering collector car sales

The collector car market has watched prices stall and in some cases fall over the last year. Just completed auctions in Scottsdale, Arizona — which included some of the biggest names in the business — saw cumulative sales of $244 million, a drop of 3% from 2019. Hagerty Insurance tracks collector car sales globally and says, “It’s clear we have a collector car market that’s cooled from the highs of the previous decade, especially at the top.”

Gooding, whose auctions have generated more than $2 billion over the last 15 years, says, “The market was on an upward trend for forever. Now people are just being a little more cautious.”

He points out that “extremely wealthy people are also picky and they watch their you know, rather than watching their pennies, they watch their millions but when exceptional cars come up for sale,” they buy.

Hagerty says finely presented and rare cars sold extremely well in Scottsdale, but there were relatively few of those in the auction tents. There were 25% fewer million-plus dollar cars up for auction compared to years past. Hagerty says auction houses are more cautious about bringing high-dollar cars to market.

Gooding had two of the top-three selling cars in Scottsdale but says he has to reject customers who are unwilling to accept their cars may not command prices reached just a few years ago. He also warns that poorer quality cars are pulling down prices. “When an average car comes up on the auction block and really doesn't do well and people then think oh, well then great cars are worth a hell of a lot less but in reality, I think there are still buyers for the exceptional special, unusual car,” Gooding said.

Attracting top dollar buyers

Considered one of the most beautiful sports cars of the era, this 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato could sell for $12 million at the upcoming "Passion of a Lifetime" auction April 1, in London.

Gooding expects the “Passion of a Lifetime” auction to command top dollar because the cars are rare and high quality. A 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato is one of 19 that were originally built.

“Many of these cars were raced when they were new and most, I would say 90% of them, suffered pretty severe accidents,” Gooding said. The DB4 GT coming up for auction has never wrecked, according to Gooding. “So it's extremely original, extremely beautiful like the Atalante and is expected to sell for more than $12,000,000,” he said.

Gooding says he’s a bit nervous and excited about the upcoming auction saying it’s, “an unusual time in the car market — but there is interest and excitement and a hunger for something exceptional.”

Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance’s “On the Move.”

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