Amelia Island 2023: market health check
A record-breaking number of cars sold, the highest-ever combined gross and the most ever paid for a car at the event – this year’s Amelia Island numbers broke records. We’ve crunched the real stats behind the headlines and Simon gives his own take on how last weekend’s auctions have affected the market.
With RM leaving to partner a new, rival concours to be held near more accessible Miami in March 2024, this year’s bumper result is unlikely to be repeated. Twenty-four years ago, the Canadians were one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the original Amelia Island concours, made famous since then thanks to the passion and hard work of organiser Bill Warner.
In our preview we commented on bullish estimates and forecasted late-night horse-trading with sellers over reserves. Sure enough, 60% of entries sold below low estimate, and only 14% beat top. In 2022, at a time of post-pandemic euphoria, the same metrics were 48% and 18%.
Sell-through only dipped slightly (87% vs. 90% in 2022), but that was thanks to the two main players, Gooding and RM. The others achieved success rates in the mid-70s on the day, a poor figure by North American auction standards. The ‘percentage by value average low/high estimate’ compares mid-estimate with hammer price totals. Basically, “how did everyone actually do, compared with what they promised.” In a nutshell, not so well: it fell from 89% in 2022 to 62% this year.
As always there were winners and losers.
* Gooding’s green Dino GTS was late in the catalogue, often not a good sign, but the wait was worth it. The very original ‘Chairs & Flares’, US-spec car went for a record $967,500. Colours make cars, but only if as-delivered. An average red one sold for $758,500, a standard red GTS post-saled for $425,000.
* The car collecting world learned a new expression in the last few months, ‘pre-merger’. It refers to the work of German tuners AMG before they were absorbed into the Daimler-Benz empire and three-letter badges turned up on people carriers. The highlights of a generally low-key auction for new arrivals Broad Arrow were two such cars. In particular, their $775,000, 1987 Mercedes-Benz AMG W124 ‘Hammer’ saloon will surely tease out more cars to market over the next few months.
* RM’s Cobra 289 was as good as it gets, ticking every conceivable box for a model normally hovering around $1 million. It went for a world record $1,655,000 to a young collector new to the hobby, who won a battle against an established name not used to losing out at auction (or elsewhere). We salute both for recognising a very good car. Neither of the other small-block Cobras at Amelia sold.
* 1960s Ferraris, headed by the $18,045,000 250 GT SWB California Spider. Like so many others, it was sold under low estimate – by about 10% – but the model remains a ‘standard’ for the elite of Ferrari collectors. Like the green Dino GTS, colour does make a difference. Would RM’s LWB car have sold in original Blu Genziana? Maybe.
* Recent Ferrari supercars. The onward charge of 288 GTO, F40 and F50 values slowed in Florida, but the sector still provided three of the Top 10 most valuable cars sold. Perhaps over-familiarity at auction and the whole ‘mono-colour’ thing is having an effect.
* Competition cars had a soft weekend, despite some good entries. The money-no-object restored Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France falls half in this camp, though RM sold a pair of early 1950s Maserati sports-racers by virtue of their ability to compete in the best events and value for money.
* Outside the venue’s traditional appetite for Golden Age pre-War Americana, the vintage scene was quiet. There wasn’t even a significant Brass Era result, generally Bonhams’ speciality.
All figures include buyer’s premium.
Simon says: “As with all statistics, everyone will pick those which suit their cause. I was in Sydney for the concours this weekend and was invited to speak about, amongst other things, demographics and tastes changing in the collector world.
“At 55 I see both sides and think the Amelia results confirm a steadying of Youngtimer mania but not 25% appreciation every year, and the fact that auctions rely heavily on the right person being in the mood on the day, not the day before or the one after. Sometimes that simply doesn’t happen, as with the Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France: it was the right car at the right price on the wrong day, but I’ll bet it has a new owner soon (and no, this time I don’t have inside information!).”
2-4 March 2023 Amelia Island auctions, Bonhams, Broad Arrow†, Gooding and RM Sotheby’s combined (2022)
Gross: $177,789,949 ($129,762,232)
Number of cars not sold: 58 (26)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (1)
Total number of cars: 454 (270)
Number sold: 396 (244)
Percentage of cars sold by number: 87% (90%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 62% (89%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 60% (48%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 75% (68%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 14% (18%)
Average price of cars sold: $448,965 ($531,812)
Average year of cars offered: 1969 (1966)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 50% (46%)
† Not present in 2022
Top 10 cars sold by value at the 2023 Amelia Island auctions
1. Gooding 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider $18,045,000
2. RM 2010 Pagani Zonda R 'Revolución Specification’ $5,340,000
3. RM 1995 Ferrari F50 $5,065,000
4. RM 1931 Duesenberg Model J 'Disappearing Top' Convertible Coupe by Murphy $4,295,000
5. RM 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO $3,965,000
6. Gooding 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 $3,525,000
7. Gooding 1953 Ferrari 250 MM Spider Series II $3,525,000
8. Gooding 1990 Ferrari F40 $3,085,000
9. RM 1953 Maserati A6GCS/53 Spyder $2,590,000
10. Gooding 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider $2,535,000
Total value of top 10 sales at Amelia Island in 2023: $51,970,000 (2022: $43,472,500) or +19.55%. Average age of Top 10 cars 1972 (2022, 1969). Note Broad Arrow did not participate in last year’s event.
You can download a list of all cars sold by Bonhams, Broad Arrow, Gooding and RM Sotheby’s sorted by make and model HERE.
Photo by Shutterstock