What to Know
- More than $380 million worth of wheels are slated to hit the auction block at six auction houses at Monterey Car Week.
- The fortunes fueling this year’s sales are coming in large part from collectors who recently made their money selling a private company to a
- The event runs through Sunday, and Over 100 cars are expected to sell this year for $1 million or more.
It is the Coachella of classic cars, the Woodstock for wealthy wheel-freaks.
It's Monterey Car Week, which includes the Concours D'Elegance car awards show and runs through Sunday. It's six days of parties, road tours, product announcements and vintage races focused on the rarest and most expensive cars in the world. But for the wealthy collectors who converge from across the globe in California, the biggest spectator sport is the auctions.
This year, more than $380 million worth of wheels are slated to hit the auction block at six auction houses, according to Hagerty, the classic-car insurance and market-research company. That total is up slightly from last year and marks a mild recovery, or at least stabilization, for a classic-car market that has lost some of its traction from the 2014-2015 peak, when Monterey sales totaled $396 million. Over 100 cars are expected to sell this year for $1 million or more, according to Hagerty.
U.S. & World
Stories that affect your life across the U.S. and around the world.
While the very top of the market remains soft — especially for cars priced over $5 million — the market for luxury cars under $250,000 remains strong.
The fortunes fueling this year's sales are coming in large part from collectors who recently made their money selling a private company to a private-equity firm, according to Hagerty.
"A lot of the best car collections being built now are the result of a liquidity event over the past few years," said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty.
Hagerty said that while the recent stock-market swings and slowing growth overseas may tamper the enthusiasm over the weekend, most collectors will be more focused on getting specific auto trophies they've been eyeing for years and hope will appreciate in value over generations.
"We'll see what the impact of the market is," he said. "Unless we see a big surprise in the trade war or something, it will be a stronger year than last year."
The most expensive cars being offered this year are wide-ranging — from modern British supercars to 1950s racers. But they all share a few common traits: rarity, historical importance and enduring beauty.
Here are the five most expensive cars being offered at Pebble Beach this week:
1994 McLaren F1 LM Specification
Price: $21 million to $23 million, RM Sotheby's
The McLaren F1 is often considered the first modern supercar, having set a speed record in Germany in 1998 at over 240 mph. McLaren built only 64 for road use and 106 total between 1994 and 1997.
This particular F1 is one of only two built to Le Mans specifications, meaning it's a true race car, with an unrestricted 680-horsepower V-12. Jay Leno often cites his McLaren F1, which he bought over 20 years ago for around $800,000 as the best investment he's ever made. The last F1 to sell at auction went for $15.6 million, but some have sold for more privately. If it sells for more than $22.5 million, it will become the most expensive British car ever sold. The car also comes with a line of bespoke luggage that matches the car's interior.
1939 Porsche Type 64
Price: More than $20 million, RM Sotheby's
It is being touted as the oldest car to carry the Porsche name, although whether it's actually a Porsche is in dispute.
This 1939 Type 64 was built by Ferdinand Porsche in Germany for a road race. He built only three — using the KdF-Wagen, later known as the VW Beetle as the starting point — and this car is the only surviving example.
While the start of World War II halted the race and any further production of the car, the Type 64 is regarded by many as the precursor to Porsche, which was founded in 1948 with the 356. The car was originally commissioned by the Nazis for a race from Berlin to Rome.
While controversy around Porsche's Nazi affiliations and the questions around whether it's a true Porsche could deter some bidders, many Porsche collectors will be vying for this important piece of automotive history.
1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider
Price: $11 million to $13 million, Gooding & Co.
Ferrari built only 108 of its 250 GT California Spiders, of which only 50 were LWBs, or long-wheel-base versions. The 250 GT California Spider, with its open top, comfortable touring interior and race-worthy engine, has become an icon of collector cars.
The model became even more famous after starring in films like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "Charlie's Angels." The most expensive California Spider ever sold went for $18.5 million at auction in 2015.
1962 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spider
Price: $10.5 million to $13 Million, RM Sotheby's
This particular 250 GT Cal Spider was the 55th of only 56 produced, and it has had only four owners in the past 50 years, which increases its value. RM Sotheby's, which specializes in car auctions, says this car is one of the most original and unchanged examples of a Cal Spider and it's a "covered-headlight" version, which is also the most prized.
1953 Aston Martin DB3S Works
Price: $8.7 million to $10.5 million, RM Sotheby's
Back in the 1950s, Aston Martin was a powerful force in racing, and many say the DB3S Works was its pinnacle. Only 10 cars from Aston's Works program survive.
This particular car won the Goodwood Nine Hours race in 1953, and it took third place in the British Grand Prix. It was owned and driven by famed racer Peter Collins and it is one of the few race cars surviving from the 1950s that has the same chassis, body and engine as when it left the factory.
Collectors prize the DBS3s not only for their record on the track, but also their beauty and driveability as road cars.
This story first appeared on CNBC.com. More from CNBC: