Buyers go for ‘imports’ at RM’s Motor City sale

caribbeanRM Motor City 2014 at a glance

Total sales$7.42 million
Catalog77 automobiles
1 boat
Sell-through rate77 percent
High sale$495,000
1911 Mercedes 38/70 HP seven-passenger Touring
Next 9 price range$220,000 to $352,000
Next auctionAugust 15-16 in Monterey, California

Imported classics, not made-in-Detroit cars, dominated sales at RM’s 20th anniversary Motor City Auction, where 77 percent of lots sold for a total of $7.4 million. The sale was held in conjunction with the annual Concours d’Elegance of America at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, Michigan.

Among the top-10 sales, only three were locally produced vehicles, and the most expensive of them wasn’t a car but a wooden boat, the triple-cockpit 1932 Gar Wood 28-foot runabout that sold for $275,000.

The most expensive purchase of the event was an antique, a 1911 Mercedes 38/70 HP seven-passenger touring car with coachwork in the style of Vanvooren. Sales price, including buyer’s fees, was $495,000.

Next were a 1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Down drop head coupe at $352,000 and a 1906 Studebaker Model G Touring car for $275,000.

The Duesenberg brothers’ first road-going car, a 1925 Model A Touring, sold for $264,000, and a 1925 Renault Model 45 Tourer formerly owned by the Nethercutt Collection also brought $264,000 (all figures include buyer’s premium).

In addition to the Gar Wood runabout, the locally built cars among the sale’s top 10 were a 1940 Packard Custom Super Eight One Eighty convertible sedan that sold for $236,500 and a 1931 Cadillac V-12 convertible coupe at $220,000.

The cover car for the event’s catalog, a 1931 Chrysler CG Imperial Convertible Victoria, was bid to $450,000, not enough to overcome the reserve price.

A 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Torpedo Tourer, built for a maharaja in India, was bid to $625,000, but like the ’31 Chrysler, that wasn’t enough to exceed the reserve.

“With its rich automotive history and culture, the Motor City again provided a fantastic backdrop for our annual Michigan sale,” RM specialist Mike Fairbairn said in a news release.

“In addition to featuring many vehicles that were built and conceived in Detroit, we were pleased to expand the scope of the sale this year to include more European classics, which found ready buyers.

“We were also proud to return as the longest running sponsor of the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s. All in all, it was a great weekend and a wonderful illustration of the passion that drives our hobby.”

Even with no million-dollar cars in the catalog (but see our Eye Candy gallery for some of the details of the cars available), RM was pleased to report that bids on the cars came from 10 countries, including Germany, Australia, Russia and the UAE.

Top 10 sales — RM Motor City auction

  1. 1911 Mercedes 38/70 HP Seven-Passenger Touring, $495,000
  2. 1953 Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn drop head coupe, $352,000
  3. 1906 Studebaker Model G Touring, $275,000
  4. 1930 Gar Wood 28-foot triple-cockpit runabout, $275,000
  5. 1925 Duesenberg Model A Touring, $264,000
  6. 1925 Renault Model 45 Tourer, $264,000
  7. 1940 Packard Custom Super Eight One Eighty convertible sedan, $236,500
  8.  1924 Duesenber Model A Speedster, $225,500
  9. 1927 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Brougham de Ville, $225,000
  10. 1931 Cadillac V-12 convertible coupe, $220,000

Along with the rest of the classic car world (well, except perhaps for Barrett-Jackson and RM’s own Auctions America division, both of which have sales this weekend), RM turns its full attention to its upcoming auction August 15-16 on the Monterey Peninsula. In RM’s case, however, the euphoria of Monterey ends early since the company’s annual auction in London, England follows just three weeks later.

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