RM Sotheby’s. Niki Lauda wins in St. Moritz

  • 20 September 2023
  • 4 min read
  • 10 images
RM Sotheby’s. Niki Lauda wins in St. Moritz image

Photo credit: RM Sotheby’s

Cliff Goodall’s view

They say that “defeats teach more than victories,” and RM, following last year’s auction setback in St. Moritz, took this to heart. Presenting the Iseli collection, featuring around seventy quirky cars, most without reserve, proved to be a winning formula. Of the 94 cars proposed, 81 were offered without reserve, with a total estimate of 8,661,000 Swiss Francs (SFR). While many cars without reserve sold for prices below their estimates, the 5,746,535 SFR in total takings represented 66% of the overall prediction (compared to just over 25% last year). Furthermore, an impressive 94.68% of the cars offered found new owners.

RM St. Moritz, 15th September 2023 RM St. Moritz, 15th September 2023 Among the vehicles, ranging from peculiar and budget-friendly to high-end gems, was the 2008 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. This track-ready 997-series car, powered by the legendary 3.8-litre Mezger engine delivering 485 bhp, had covered only 20 kilometres – essentially new. Its estimate of 650,000 SFR to 750,000 SFR seemed to sit somewhere between “high” and “outrageous,” considering its niche appeal. Nevertheless, it achieved an impressive 680,000 SFR, becoming the most expensive 997 sold this year and entering the territory of the “sacred” GT3 RS 4.0.

12008 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR sold for CHF680,000 (€710,000)

The car that raised eyebrows, at least for me, was the 1984 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 “Nürburgring.” Its nickname derived from a marketing stunt, when Mercedes organized a race between 21 motorsport legends and young talents on the famous German circuit before an F1 event. In September 2020, one of these cars sold for 95,450 SFR. Just three years later, this example driven by Niki Lauda, still in its original livery, came up for auction with an estimate of 400,000 to 500,000 SFR – a figure that left us astonished. Although it ultimately sold for 308,750 SFR, that’s still a remarkable result, representing more than three times its value in three years... but Lauda contributed by winning again.

21984 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 "Nürburgring" sold for CHF308,750 (€322,350)

The Fiat 600s presented an interesting case. RM auctions typically feature high-end cars, so the presence of 16 “popular” Fiats from the Iseli collection was a rare sight. They were divided into three groups: the 600 sedans, the most common cars in Italy during the 1960s; the rare coach-built versions; and the charming Multiplas, the Italian equivalent of the Volkswagen Bulli.

31958 Fiat 600 Berlinetta "Monterosa" sold for CHF27,600 (€28,815)

Usually, coach-built versions perform better at auctions, but this time, they disappointed. A 1958 Berlinetta Monterosa went for 27,600 SFR (against an estimate of 50,000 to 60,000 SFR), while a 1965 Spider Vignale with the same estimate achieved the same result.

41959 Fiat 600 sold for CHF34,500 (€36,025)

The 1963 Coupé Vignale fared even worse, selling for just 23,000 SFR. The standard sedans left us with some unanswered questions: a 1966 model estimated at 8,000 to 12,000 SFR sold for 6,325 SFR, while a more attractive and older 1959 variant, with an estimate of 12,000 to 18,000 SFR, soared to 34,500 SFR.

51960 Fiat 600 Multipla Ambulance by Coriasco sold for CHF80,500 (€84,050)

However, it was the 600 Multiplas that garnered genuine applause. A very rare 1960 600 Multipla converted into an ambulance by Coriasco surpassed its estimate of 50,000 to 70,000 SFR, selling for 80,500 SFR. Another 1964 model, restored to resemble the classic Milanese Taxi, achieved 103,500 SFR, more than double its estimate of 50,000 to 60,000 SFR.

61964 Fiat 600 Multipla Taxi sold for CHF103,500 (€108,065)

British cars didn’t shine in St. Moritz. For instance, the 1961 Jaguar E-Type S1 3.8 Roadster, equipped with flat floors and outside bonnet locks and restored in 2015 (or 750 miles ago, if you prefer), seemed underappreciated with a valuation of 275,000 to 325,000 SFR. Unfortunately, it sold for 230,000 SFR.

71961 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 3.8-Litre Roadster sold for CHF230,000 (€240,150)

Additionally, a 1961 Aston Martin DB4 S3 in black with matching interior, although not a market favourite for some time, seemed like a reasonable proposition at 375,000 to 425,000 SFR. So, you’ll understand the embarrassment of seeing it go for 241,250 SFR.

81961 Aston Martin DB4 Series III sold for CHF241,250 (€251,900)

If we add a couple of unsuccessful bids (an Aston Martin DB5 Vantage with a non-original engine and Sebastian Loeb’s former McLaren 675LT Spider) to the mix, it soon becomes clear that “Rule Britannia” was nowhere to be heard in St. Moritz. The 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Roadster Edition 50 was another interesting case to follow. Over the years, auction trends for this car have followed a pattern: new cars sold close to list prices (around 120,000 SFR), followed by nearly-new examples with few miles (40,000 to 50,000 SFR), then used but well-maintained models at 10,000 to 20,000 SFR, with prices stabilizing at these levels. The example from the Iseli collection in St. Moritz had just 28,000 km on the clock, but its estimate of 50,000 to 60,000 SFR was already bold. It ultimately sold for 34,500 SFR, suggested changing tides for this model.

92005 Mercedes-Benz SL 500 Edition 50 sold for CHF34,500 (€36,025)

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