The Market


Bonhams at Amelia Island 2023

Bonhams at Amelia Island 2023 2nd March 2023

The Brits kicked off this year’s Florida sales with a low-key but workmanlike performance grossing some $12.6m. More than half the catalogue was offered at No Reserve, which was something of a lifesaver as many of more valuable cars – including the headlining Bugatti Type 57S – failed to sell.

Bucking the trend, and a highlight of the day, was the performance of the Roger Hendricks ‘Lost Jaguar’ collection that proved once again the attraction of undiscovered classics. Two cars in this section did well against pre-sale guides and sold for an identical $775k with premium: the 1951 XK120 LT3 Works Lightweight Sports Racer-LT3, est. $400k to $600k; and the 1959 Lister-Jaguar, est. $600k to $800k.

Meaningful offers on the Vanden Plas-bodied Bugatti Sports Tourer ground to a halt in the low $8ms. The market for these cars has narrowed. However rare, exotic and attractive (this one was certainly rare), a successful sale depends on at least one committed bidder. Gooding sold a 57SC Atalante for $10.345m gross at Pebble Beach last August against an estimate of $10m to $12m. The location and a determined pre-auction effort to line up every possible bidder worked. Plus, the definitive and racy Atalante bodywork and desirable supercharger put it on another level from today’s staid tourer.

At a glance:
* Gross, motor cars: $12,631,470 (2022, $14,272,610)
* Percentage sold by number: 78% (2022, 88%)
* Top-selling car: 1966 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series 2 $1,930,000 gross, $1,750,000 net (est. $1m to $2m)

The silver 500 Superfast had been put in at the widest possible estimate. Requiring at least recommissioning, it generated a storm of bids in the room and over the telephones, where it finally went for just under $2m with premium. It was bought at the right price, but factor in a big bill at a recognised expert to bring it back to life. First job: ditch those ghastly modern tyres. RM sold a slightly better black 500 SF S2 for $2.225m in Arizona this year.

Bidding on the North American-spec F40 petered out below $2.5m. The Ferrari ‘Daytona’ went to $540k in the room and the vendor should have accepted that. Instead, it will return home.

Other results of note (all prices gross):

* 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 S2, $318,500. Dark blue car first sold to Country and Western star Pat Boone still on its Californian ‘black plate’.
* 1951 Porsche 356 Pre-A 1300 Cabriolet, Not Sold. Estimate of $400k to $450k would buy a good 356 Speedster, the model everyone wants.
* 1962 Fiat 600 Jolly Beach Car, $84,000. One-owner car in very original condition. Est. $50k to $60k.
* 1925 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Piccadilly Roadster, $291,000. Springfield-built Rolls with magic ‘Silver Ghost’ name sold just under low estimate. Half the price of a Ferrari 512 TR today.
* 1962 Maserati 5000 GT, $417,500. Est. $500k to $800k. On the face of it, the ‘Car of Kings’ has been deposed. However, this one comes from Bonhams’ usual Middle East consignor and has been on static display for many years. It’s also an Allemano – the most numerous – and the originality of its mighty engine cannot be confirmed.
* 1960 Facel Vega Excellence EX1 Saloon, $38,080. A US car from new and bought for less than half its low estimate. Requires full restoration. Mad but magnificent.

The older entries here were expensive and nothing special in a diminishing sector wanting stand-out cars. There were few limited-edition 911s or quality Ferraris. Bonhams had the weakest of the catalogues at Amelia. Unless Maarten ten Holder was at the rostrum, proceedings were just too drawn-out – at one point it looked as if Gooding’s smaller, 55-car sale that started five hours later was going to finish first. On the positive side, compared with 2022, more cars that sold beat upper estimate.

Bonhams at Amelia Island, 2 March 2023 – on-the-day results (2022)

Gross: $12,631,470 ($14,272,610)
Number of cars not sold: 22 (10)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (0)
Total number of cars: 102 (84)
Number sold: 80 (74)
Percentage of cars sold by number: 78% (88%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 33% (60%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 64% (68%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 76% (85%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 14% (8%)
Average price of cars sold: $123,838 ($169,912)
Average year of cars offered: 1963 (1951)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 54% (57%)

Photos by Marcelo Murillo for K500