The past few weeks have been big ones in the world of automotive antiques auctions. A rare 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. sold for an all-time record $27.5 million near Pebble Beach, Calif., during the Concours d'Elegance in the middle of August. It was one of many rare vehicles that sold for exorbitant prices in auctions associated with the show.
Then, in early September, a classic piece of machinery once driven by Bond, James Bond – the famous submersible Lotus Esprit that was featured in 1977's "The Spy Who Loved Me," starring Roger Moore – fetched nearly $900,000 at an auction in London.
Pebble Beach festival brings out the big bucks
While the Concours d'Elegance is considered one of the finest shows in the world for antique and collectible automobiles, it is also a place for enthusiasts, collectors and sellers to get together and exchange automobiles valued at the six-, seven- and eight-figures. With the luxury car market taking off as it has recently, many vehicles have seen their prices double or triple in the past few years alone.
The cherry-red 1967 Ferrari that set the record was one of 10 ever built. Formerly owned by a now deceased orphan-turned-millionaire named Eddie Smith, who was also at one point mayor of Lexington, N.C., the car's history of only having had one owner was one of the biggest reasons it was able to fetch such a hefty sum. Nor was its value diminished by an appearance in the 1968 film "The Thomas Crown Affair."
Those who think of submersible automobiles as only existing in movies are often correct, and the Lotus used in the 1977 Bond flick is a perfect example. Finding a buyer for $864,000, the Esprit was one of eight models used during filming, and might have fallen below its expected sale price due to its lack of functionality. However, it was the model that was filmed for the underwater scenes, thus setting it apart as a special part of movie history.
The most remarkable aspect of the sale may have been where the Lotus was discovered. A Long Island, N.Y., man found it in a storage container in 1989. Preferring to remain anonymous, the man paid less than $100 for the contents of the locker, hoping to find some used power tools. Instead, he found the car, which had apparently fallen through the cracks after being used to promote the movie.
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