Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bucket List Trip Coda: Gooding Auction

Pebble Beach (6)

Like a vampire, as the sun came out, I had to go in. Hiking back to my rental car I passed the Gooding auction tent hoping to do some recon. I knew Gooding was a low volume, high quality auction house and very well might have some interesting cars - even by Pebble Beach standards. But I about spit up the last of my saliva when the girl told me a ticket was 40 bucks. "Bucket list! Bucket list!" I told myself, gritting my teeth as I handed over my credit card for what seemed the thousandth time that weekend.

Gooding 1956 Maserati 250F

But what do I see when I wander around the tent but a 1956 Maserati 250F! My cup runneth over. It was raced once by the factory team and won, driven by Stirling Moss. Estimated sale price? 4-6 million. What a beautiful piece of machinery. Then this guy comes over to look as well and I remark on what a find this is. "Yup, doesn't get any better than this," he mumbled. Then he proceeds to take the hood off! Fine by me, great for picture taking. Eventually an employee came over to chastise him but he said he was interested in buying it. Employee backed off.

Gooding 1956 Maserati 250F (14)

Gooding 1956 Maserati 250F (2)

Gooding 1956 Maserati 250F (5)

They had some other outstanding examples placed around, maybe 40 in all, but I had to leave. Sunburned, sore and sleepy I made my way out of Pebble and up the coastline, had me a tasty meal at Outback then found a beach access parking lot where I promptly reclined the seat in a cloudy haze. It had been a nonstop whirlwind from the moment I landed at San Jose and I desperately needed to catch my breath.

Carmel Maserati 3500GT

On my way out of the concours I had passed through Carmel and was struck by its charm. It looked like a cool place to explore but my rubber legs would have none of it at the time. But after sitting by the beach for over an hour, I got my second wind and calculated I'd have enough time for that Carmel exploration before the auction started. But as I park my car, what do I find right across the street? Another rare Maserati! Clearly, the car gods were smiling down upon me.

California 19

California 20

California 21

Old style shops with high style prices made for a unique combination of glitz and charm. Late model Ferraris and Lamborghinis dotted the main street and I knew my credit card wouldn't be seeing the light of day. Supposedly, local resident Clint Eastwood has a restaurant around there but I didn't try to research that. I was just enjoying the otherworldly feel of being so faraway transported from my everyday life and the energy that is Monterey car week that crackled in the air.

Making my way back to Pebble, I was going against the grain as long lines of cars were exiting after the concours had ended. But what really panicked me was they had already taken up the signs indicating which way to the show! I tried to remember landmarks from the first time then turned on the GPS for an approximation but you can drive around in circles forever in that area. I ended up taking a really scenic trip right along the beach back around to my original parking lot but one could say the car gods helped me most with what turned out to be a lucky guess on my part.


One cool thing, though, was all the car transporters for the show were parked behind the Gooding tent. So sure enough while waiting to park I see a Maserati 300S and a steam car among others motoring right past me to be trucked out of there. Had I known this I would have staked out the spot for some action video. Like I said, best to do a dry run first on a big trip!

Gooding Auction (2)

I was a few minutes late but no worries because I knew you don't start an auction with your best car, you build up to it with lesser ones first. Luckily, they didn't save the 250F for last, either! I'd seen the auctioneer in action several times in the past on TV but I got the full flavor of him in person and he really worked the room well, as expected. He knew when to joke, when to pick up the pace and when to drop the hammer. I started not to feel so bad about my 40 dollars.

Gooding Auction

I was shocked by some of the prices. Half a mil for a Jaguar E-Type?? And remember, a ten percent premium is charged by the auction house of the final sale price so a car selling for a million really costs 1.1 mil. Ouch! Finally the 250F comes up on the stage - along with surprise guest Sir Stirling Moss! See the video below to see what it sells for.

Holding it over my head on max zoom, it gets a little shaky

Click here to see the entire photo set

It was fairly dark as I made my way back to the parking lot. That was it, fini. No more events to look forward to, the dream was over. It literally hit me in the stomach. I wanted to stay California dreaming forever. I tried not to get down, to be thankful for what I'd received (a lot!) and not be the negative cunt I usually am. I held up fairly well, I thought. I knew I'd be feeling the aftershocks for a long time to come.

So if you see me and my eyes are far away, most likely I'm back in California walking in the mystic morning fog, driving down twisty mountains, inhaling the ocean breeze and wondering, "What if..."

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