RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale Auction 2022 promises to be a return to the good old days, or at least, as close to the pre-pandemic days as we may be able to hope for. Not only have our lives changed due to a global pandemic, but the collector car world and how people buy and sell cars has changed a lot since then too. It will be interesting to see how new market forces will affect, not only RM Sotheby’s, but the wider auction atmosphere in Scottsdale this January.
This year’s sale will take place on just one day, instead of two. As of this writing, RM Sotheby’s has 78 total lots in their online auction catalog, 67 cars and 9 lots of other stuff… automobilia, children’s cars, a motorcycle, etc. As a comparison, at their 2020 sale they offered 142 automotive lots over two days, more than double the offerings this year. As I said, business for the big auction companies is a lot different in 2022 than it was in 2020.
Among those 67 automobile lots, 11 of them are Mercedes-Benz cars. The Mercedes highlight of the sale must be the 1955 300 SL Alloy Gullwing. One of just 29 ever built, it is one of the most collectible Mercedes that exists. Two other 300 SLs are included in the catalog along with a 190 SL, a couple of SLS AMGs, a 3.5 Cab, 280 SL, 600 Pullman Limousine and a couple of more modern cars from the 1980s. It’s a well rounded Mercedes field this year, a group of cars that appeals to several generations of Mercedes enthusiasts.
I’ve gone out on a limb here and made my price predictions for each lot at the bottom of each car’s description and commentary. This year, more than any other, I really feel like I’m shooting in the dark with these predictions. The market is strong today, but the big auction venues have been largely absent over the past couple of years due to the pandemic, at least they aren’t the same as they were in the ‘before-times.’ So, who knows how close I’ll be with any of these? (All predictions include buyer’s premium, total buyer will actually pay after fees).
RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale Auction 2022 – Details
After initially announcing a daytime auction, RM Sotheby’s sent out an email on January 19th shifting the start time of the auction start to 5:00pm. The updated schedule is:
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 – 9:00am – 7:00pm – Auction Preview
Thursday, January 27, 2022 – 9:00am – 5:00pm – Auction Preview – Auction begins at 5:00pm
Buyer’s Premium: 12% of hammer price up to $250k, and 10% on the balance for lots sold above $250k.
In addition to the 11 Mercedes cars we’ll preview below, with our own price predictions, there is a wide assortment of desirable collector cars crossing the RM Sotheby’s auction block, Porsches, Ferraris and many others any true car enthusiast would love to have in their garage. Here is a link to the complete RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale Auction 2022 Catalog.
Lot 115 1964 300 SL Roadster
Estimate: $2,200,000 – $2,500,000
- Light blue w/ contrasting color hard top (maybe black, maybe dark blue, no description in catalog) w/ red leather
- Factory replacement alloy block
- Claimed about 50,000 original miles
- Consignor reportedly commissioned a mechanical and cosmetic restoration in 2015, completed in 2017.
The catalog description of this car is pretty vague. Early history of the car is unknown, although it is believed it was originally delivered to Iran. Showed up in the U.S. by 1971. Same owner near Seattle from early 1970s until 2013. Changed hands a few more times, was then restored by the consignor’s shop of choice.
2 million + dollars is a lot of money for a 300 SL roadster today, especially one that doesn’t have a complete and known history from new, no matter how nice the car looks. The fact that it’s got a factory replacement block shouldn’t affect value too much, as it’s apparently documented and wasn’t that unusual for late 300 SLs in period. I don’t see this car reaching it’s low estimate. Price Prediction: $1,480,000 (no sale).
Lot 129 1955 300 SL Coupe
Estimate: $1,450,000 – $1,650,000
- Dark Grey (Dunkelgrau) 164 G w/ Red tartan interior w/ Fawn (tan) vinyl
- Documented restoration completed 2015
- Retains original, matching numbers engine
Early history shows first owner of record purchased the car in 1959, so, not sure where it was or what it was doing between April of 1955 when it was completed at the factory and 1959. History complete from 1959 to present day. Restoration undertaken in 2014, documented and sounds to have been done right. Catalog description writer did their best to include all the big names in the list of folks who contributed to the restoration… even though the new headliner material was just purchased from him, they name Rudi Koniczek. The Tartan seat material was sourced from Hjeltness, not installed by, just sourced from… but they got a bunch of big time names in the description. Consignor bought the car in 2015, post-restoration.
Said to be one of just two 300 SLs originally finished in Dark Grey at the factory. It’s a stunning exterior color with a great interior color, a great combination, no doubt. It’s hard to know where 300 SLs will end up this time around, but I like the history and appearance of this car. Price Prediction: $1,480,000.
Lot 139 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
Estimate: $125,000 – $150,000 (No Reserve)
- Sapphire Red Metallic w/ Exclusive Black / Red leather, black soft top
- 23,780 miles
Dare we call this ‘just a used car?’ With 23K+ miles that’s about all it is, albeit a very capable used car. Nothing about this particular SLS stands out from an options or equipment standpoint, it seems a pretty basic example.
SLSs, both coupes and roadsters, have increased in value over the past several years and SLS’s of all stripes are bringing strong money today. Remember the days when 300 SL roadster values lagged behind those of the iconic Gullwing coupe? Eventually roadsters caught up, largely because they are thought to be more comfortable cars for touring than their claustrophobic (and often hot inside) coupe brethren.
SLS roadster prices have lagged behind the coupes consistently since new, despite the fact that many roadsters were more expensive to begin with, they made less of them and for only a couple of model years. So many SLS buyers want those Gullwing doors that make the car so iconic, so don’t expect to see roadster values meet those of coupes any time soon. There are plenty of roadsters on the market to choose from at any one time, and with over 25,000 miles, this car just isn’t that special. Price prediction: $129,800.
Lot 141 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL
Estimate: $60,000 – $80,000 (No Reserve)
- White (050 G) w/ Black MB Tex interior, black soft top
- Odometer indicates 9,704 miles
- Automatic transmission, Becker radio, A/C
- Longtime California car, 3 owners from new
- From of the Tenenbaum Collection
The only reason a 280 SL like this should appear at an RM Auction is when it’s a part of larger collection. For years, I’ve contended that this is not the best venue for a Pagoda SL, for all kinds of reasons. Never the less, this car presents as generally well maintained and honest. The catalog description alludes to ‘refurbishment’ over the years, white overspray on various under-hood components leads me to believe it’s seen some paintwork too. The Pagoda SL market is strong today. This car has a known history, apparently, regular maintenance and comes from a respected collection. The color combination doesn’t make it stand out, but it should bring solid Pagoda money. Price Prediction: $77,900
Lot 145 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupe
Estimate: $225,000 – $275,000 (No Reserve)
- designo Magno Alanite Grey w/ Exclusive Classic Red Leather
- 3,470 miles
- Bang & Olufsen Sound
- From the Tenebaum Collection, purchased new by Mr. Tenenbaum
Original owner, low mile SLS Coupes are the examples that all SLS buyers are searching for, this car is sure to bring strong money. designo Magno Alanite is one of two matte paint color options offered in 2011 that added $3,950 to the car’s sticker price. In addition to ownership history and odometer reading, color combination and options are the other main factors that affect price and desirability in the SLS market. The red leather interior is a good match for the grey exterior and is reminiscent of classic 300 SLs from the 1950s. I’m bullish on the SLS market. Price Prediction: $283,000.
Lot 147 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet
Estimate: $300,000 – $350,000 (No Reserve)
- Light Ivory (670 H) w/ Cognac leather, tan soft top
- 98,528 miles
- Column shift automatic transmission
- Claimed original paint, recent new interior and top
- From the Tenenbaum Collection
A car that has become the ultimate collectible Mercedes of the 1970s. Sure, it’s got a V8 and was produced in limited numbers, but is it really worth two or three times as much as the 6 cylinder W111 convertibles? The market seems to think so, although I don’t get the attraction. I think collectors buy them because they think they need one as part of a top shelf Mercedes-Benz collection.
This car appears to have been in California its entire life. The catalog description contends that it was with its original owner until 2016, a very good time to sell a 3.5 cab, while still pushing $300k, they were even more expensive back in 2014 – 2016. Prices have cooled a bit since. Price Prediction: $308,800.
Lot 159 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing Coupe
Estimate: $7,000,000 – $9,000,000
- Silver Grey Metallic (DB 180) w/ blue gabardine fabric w/ blue vinyl
- Matching numbers
- Sport suspension, 3.42 rear end, belly pans, Rudge wheels
- One of 29 aluminum bodied 300 SLs built
Alloy Gullwings don’t come up for sale very often. When an owner does choose to part with one they are often traded quietly, on the private market. The 300 SL is one of the classic, blue chip collector cars of the post-war period, the ‘gold standard’ they’ve been called. An alloy Gullwing is the ultimate iteration of that classic. This is a well known car that comes from a well known, long time owner.
While we’ve seen 300 SL prices ebb and flow a bit over the past 10 years, a car like this is in a league of its own. The collector car market is extra strong these days, it’s anyone’s guess as to what this car will bring. I can see it as a no sale… I can also see it pushing the high end of the estimate range, it just depends who’s in the room (or probably, more likely, on the phone) on auction day. Will it do double what a very nice alloy bodied car sold at Gooding and Company’s 2012 auction in Scottsdale for? I doubt it. Price Prediction: $7,630,000.
Lot 170 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL
Estimate: $80,000 – $100,000 (No Reserve)
- Anthracite Grey Metallic (172) w/ grey leather, black soft top w/ hard top
- 9,247 miles
Little real information about this car in the auction catalog beyond the fact that it was sold new in Chicago and spent its first 30 years in that area. The catalog goes on to mention the center section of the hard top has been repainted. That should have little or no effect on the bidding here.
Final year 560 SLs do demand a bit of a premium over comparable, earlier models, for no good reason other than people like to say they have one from the final year. Anthracite Grey is a good color for these cars. There are more of these out there with under 10,000 original miles than you’d think, but this car will still bring strong money. Price Prediction: $96,400.
Lot 175 1965 Mercedes-Benz 600 Four Door Pullman
Estimate: $250,000 – $300,000
- Black w/ Cognac leather
Originally delivered to Hong Kong for use by ‘distinguished statesman’ Chen Yi. Eventually ended up in long term storage in Shanghai when ‘discovered’ by a German engineer working for Volkswagen in Shanghai in the early 90s who exported the car back to Germany. A few years ago, it ended up at the Classic Center in Irvine, CA. Described as in ‘largely original condition’ with an apparent exterior repaint. Interior appears dry and cracked, front and back. Difficult to gauge much else in terms of condition based on the photos. The odometer isn’t clearly visible in any of the photos and mileage isn’t mentioned in the catalog description.
These cars are monumentally expensive to own and maintain. The catalog describes this car as ‘largely original’ – which could also be read as ‘this car will need pretty much everything in the near future.’ Any new owner should budget $100K+ over the next few years if they intend on using it in any meaningful or regular way.
I think back on a SWB 600 I worked with a few years ago and the receipts that were with the car. In the ten years it was owned by my client, there were approximately $98,000 in receipts for mechanical work that was done during his ownership. Even detailing a 600 Pullman is expensive, the auction catalog describes a ‘thorough detail’ in June 2020 that cost $4,450.
Value is tough here. I can imagine a bidding war between a wealthy Chinese businessman bent on repatriating the car to China, a European who wants it for his collection and a West Coast tech billionaire who wants to ride in style to his office duking it out for this behemoth, despite what service bills might lurk on the horizon. Price Prediction: $254,300.
Lot 177 1962 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
Estimate: $175,000 – $225,000 (No Reserve)
- Anthracite Grey Metallic (172) w/ Cognac leather, dark brown soft top w/ hard top
- Odometer: 00369
- Numbers matching
- Same owner from 1962 – 2011
- 3 year restorations by SL-Classics – Duren, Germany
Completely restored, appears as an essentially ‘new’ car. Originally Fire Engine Red w/ black leather, color changed during restoration. The auction catalog states this car completed its $225,000 restoration in Germany in 2016. The high-water mark for the 190 SL market was about 2015, after that, the market cooled off a bit. The cars we saw sell at auction for $300,000+ were more like $200 – 250k cars all of a sudden. The purist may have issue with this car’s color change, but it sure looks shiny and new, which holds a certain appeal for auction-goers. Price Prediction: $203,800.
Lot 187 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC Custom ‘Wide-Body’ by Bespoke Motors
Estimate: $225,000 – $275,000 (No Reserve)
- Odometer: 38,508 miles
- Custom build by Bespoke Motors – Costa Mesa, CA
This car is described in the auction catalog as being ‘fully restored’ ‘in the style of a pre-merger AMG Wide-Body’ SEC. So, it’s a resto-mod 560 SEC put together to look like a period wide-body. The car was reportedly stripped to bare metal and carbon fiber ‘AMG-style’ wide body fenders were added then repainted. A new, red interior was fitted trimmed with “Custom polychrome ‘zebra’-patterned wood.” The engine was reportedly rebuilt, but remains a stock, 5.6 liter unit.
I wouldn’t doubt the cost to complete the project was high, but I’m not sure it will translate into real pre-merger wide body money. This is like selling a custom hot rod, you’ve got to find the guy, in fact, the two guys, who want what someone else dreamt up. I don’t think this one is going to meet reserve. Price Prediction: $188,400.
There you have it… our thoughts on the Mercedes being offered at RM Sotheby’s Scottsdale Auction 2022.