Media Release



  • RM Sotheby’s generates $62.8 million in sales with 85 percent of all lots sold at its 17th annual Arizona Biltmore sale in Phoenix
  • Top seller: 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster achieves $9.9 million to set new record as the most valuable automobile ever sold in Arizona auction week history
  • 17 lots achieve million-dollar-plus results with numerous auction benchmarks set
  • Bidders hail from 20 countries
  • RM Sotheby’s continues its 2016 calendar in Paris, February 3 during the world-famous Retromobile week
  • Complete Arizona sale results and upcoming auction information available at


PHOENIX, Arizona (January 30, 2016) –  RM Sotheby’s, the world’s largest collector car auction house for investment-quality automobiles, kicked off its 2016 season this week with an impressive $62.8 million* in sales at its 17th annual Arizona Biltmore auction in Phoenix.  Attracting bidders from 20 countries, the two-day sale presented 149 blue-chip automobiles before a packed sales room, with 85 percent of all lots sold.


The undisputed star of the event—and this year’s Arizona auction week—was a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster, chassis no. 130894, which crossed the stage during Friday’s sale session.  An original U.S.-delivery car with known history from new, the highly desirable “high door”, “longtail”, factory left-hand-drive Special Roadster was offered fresh to the market, following 26 years in single ownership. Bidding on the stunning automobile opened at $5 million before quickly climbing to a final $9,900,000. The impressive price ranks the vehicle as the most valuable automobile sold in Arizona auction week history, breaking the previous record set by RM in 2015. The strong result also ranks the Special Roadster as one of the most valuable pre-war automobiles ever sold at auction.


The 540 K led a string of 17 individual million-dollar-plus sales and various new auction benchmarks at this year’s RM sale. Among notable record-setting lots, a 1952 Cunningham C3 Coupe, the only Vignale-bodied C3 actively raced in period, sold for an above-estimate $1,210,000 to set a new auction record for the model. Also entering the history books was a 1939 Jaguar SS 100 2 ½ -Litre Roadster, offered from long-term ownership, which established a new record for a Jaguar SS 100 sold at auction at $1,402,500.


“We are thrilled with the sales result from this week’s Arizona auction. Though we did not witness significant price increases, we were very encouraged to see the strong sell-through rate, which indicates continued interest in the hobby,” says Ian Kelleher, Managing Director, RM Sotheby’s West Coast Division. “The auction was anchored by several notable world records, with numerous lots attracting highly competitive bidding from an enthused audience. There remains a healthy appetite for high-quality, fresh-to-market consignments, and with this week’s results on par with the strong success of last year’s Arizona sale, we expect continued interest, attendance and participation at our upcoming events.”


Perennial crowd favorites, a trio of Shelbys also thrilled collectors at this week’s RM Arizona event. Leading the charge, a 1965 Shelby 427 Competition Cobra, the only 427 Cobra to win championships in two countries, powered to a final $2,255,000 on Thursday, while an original 1964 Shelby 289 Cobra commanded a final $1,072,500 on Friday. Rounding out the group, a 1963 Shelby 289 Cobra ‘Dragonsnake’—the winningest Dragonsnake—was driven onto stage by Bruce Larson, the driver behind much of its success, before selling for a final $990,000.


Reflecting the diversity of RM’s 2016 Arizona catalogue, additional notable sales included:


  • a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Torpedo Convertible Coupe, one of just six original examples built, for $3,000,000;
  • a 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV, one of five single-sump SVs sold new to the U.S., garnered $2,000,000;
  • a 1933 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria, offered publicly for the first time, surpassed estimate at a final $660,000;
  • a freshly restored 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air ‘Fuel Injected’ Convertible achieved $176,000 against a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 - $125,000;
  • a superbly restored 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz also exceeded estimate at $390,500;
  • a 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC 6.0 AMG ‘Wide Body’ presented in excellent original condition garnered $154,000;
  • an ultra-desirable 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder with less than 1,500 miles, sold for an upper-estimate $1,595,000; and,
  • the 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite Mk 1 “Think Pink”, one of 12 automobiles offered from the esteemed Craig McCaw Collection, and sold to benefit charity, realized $60,500


From the Arizona desert to the City of Light, the RM Sotheby’s team heads directly to Paris for its annual sale during the world-famous Retromobile week, February 3. Held at Place Vauban in the city’s center, the Paris auction will lift the gavel on 61 of the world’s finest motor cars from both pre- and post-war periods. The complete digital Paris catalogue is available here:


For further information on upcoming RM Sotheby’s events, or to view complete results from RM Sotheby’s Arizona Biltmore sale, please visit


*Results are listed in USD and inclusive of 10 percent buyer’s premium for automobiles and 15 percent buyer’s premium for nostalgia. Sale totals include post-sale transactions.

Alexander Weaver

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more