From the look of the cars for sale at the annual luxury auto auctions later this month in Monterey, California, you’d never guess the world is in turmoil.

Every August, the major auction houses, including Sotheby’s, Gooding & Co., and Bonhams, put together posh presentations and auction off millions of dollars worth of the world’s most beautiful and rarest vehicles during events on the California coast. That’s in tandem with an exhibition and competition in which the cream of the world’s vehicular crop are rolled at dawn onto the lawn of the Pebble Beach Golf Links and admired by hundreds of ticket holders dressed in Sunday best for the occasion. 

Inflation and the bear market are no match for the appetites of car enthusiasts intent on purchasing vintage hunks of metal on four wheels — at least, that’s what those selling the cars say they expect.

“We are very excited about what we have to offer in Monterey,” David Gooding, president and founder of Gooding & Co., said during an auction preview on July 31. “We can’t wait to be there.”


A 1955 Ferrari 410 is expected to sell for as much as $30 million; a 1973 Porsche Carrera RS is valued at up to $2.25 million. Prewar hulks the sizes of current-day luxury SUVs are listed at seven- and eight-figure pricing estimates. They represent a fraction of the blue-chip vehicles primed to potentially inject the collecting market with enough cash to hit superlative highs.

This year the major auction houses planning sales in the coastal enclave have consigned more cars than ever estimated to be worth more than $1 million. At RM Sotheby’s, 59 lots out of 195 are valued above $1 million, up from 42 such vehicles last year. At Gooding & Co., 50 out of the 160 vehicles have high estimates of at least $1 million, up from 38 last year. At Bonhams, 15 out of 140 lots are valued above $1 million, up from nine last year. Newcomer Broad Arrow Auctions lists 19 vehicles valued at more than $1 million. 

“There’s a lot of inventory on offer, and if it’s all absorbed at these estimates, the market will steamroll for the foreseeable future,” says Steve Serio, a Boston-based dealer and broker of rare European automobiles. “To qualify this weekend as important is an incredible understatement.”