Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

Sold as seen: supercars for the super-rich at Pebble Beach auction

Could classic Jaguar outperform Ferrari?

Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider

THE GLOBAL economy may not be firing on all cylinders, but that isn’t likely to deter the super-rich from revving up their credit cards for some serious spending. Some of the most valuable cars in the world will go under the hammer when the Pebble Beach auction opens for business later today.

The auction at Pebble Beach, near Monterey, about 120 miles down the coast from San Francisco, attracts some of the most sought-after classics in the world. In recent months a glut of multimillion-pound auction sales has encouraged the owners of historic vehicles to dust them off and put them up for sale.

This year three lots are expected to sell for more than £13m each. First is, surprise, surprise, a Ferrari — a 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione, being sold by the auction house Gooding. This 1959 model has an impressive racing history, but it probably won’t be doing much more track work if it finds a buyer at Pebble Beach: it has an estimate of around £14m-£15m.

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Also up for sale is a 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione from the following year, which, it is hoped, will sell for nearly £14m. Its beautiful bodywork is the work of Scaglietti, a styling house that worked on numerous road-going and racing Ferraris in the 1950 and 1960s. This car competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in 1960, finishing in seventh place.

Jaguar D-type

While all these cars are of historical note and will cost their new owners as much as a yacht, they pale into insignificance next to a rare British sports car. A 1955 Jaguar D-type, a veteran of the fateful 1955 Le Mans, at which 83 spectators were killed in a terrible accident, is estimated to sell for nigh-on £20m.

As if those three cars weren’t expensive enough, experts believe they could be overtaken by a 1962 prototype of the Shelby Cobra, an unholy union of American V8 muscle and a dainty little sports car from the British outfit AC. Offered for sale for the first time, by the Carroll Shelby Trust, the car is so valuable that the auctioneer, RM, hasn’t even disclosed its estimate.

To follow the Pebble Beach auction and view the full programme of the sales, click here.