Car collectors, who tend to be contrarians, are notoriously attracted to the first and last of anything, so it was probably predictable that they would start to want the last, and arguably the best, of the manual transmission cars.
“These cars tend to be perhaps newer than the cars that collectors typically pursue, but in some cases, the rarity factor offsets this,” said Alexander Weaver, a consignment specialist for RM Sotheby’s, a Canadian classic-car auction company.
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Last month, that auction company sold a 2007 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano for $692,500. It was one of just 30 built with a manual transmission for that year, and it cost about $313,000 when new. To put the sale into perspective, the Ferrari brought three to four times what a comparable car with an automatic would have realized.
“The spike in values has been noticeable,” said David Gooding, founder of the California-based auction firm Gooding & Company. “These cars might not be for everyone, but for a certain collector or driver who wants a true, analog sports-car feel, but with good air conditioning and modern comforts, a late-model sports car with a manual transmission can be very attractive.”
Like RM Sotheby’s, Mr. Gooding’s auction house can point to numerous sales of manual Ferraris that fetched far more than a comparable automatic. It’s much the same in the Lamborghini world, said Mr. Weaver, who noted that “manual transmission examples of the Murciélago sell for up to three times the price of automatics.”
Even Porsche, which announced that its new 911 GT3 would be offered with a six-speed manual, has had prices spike for certain rare, late-model stick-shift cars, Mr. Gooding said.
The phenomenon repeats in the online auction world, and has spread to less expensive cars. Randy Nonnenberg, co-founder of the online auction company Bring a Trailer, points to manual BMW M3s and M5s from the early and mid-2000s as particularly in demand.