The 2023 Amelia Island auctions are about to kick off: what to watch out for
More than 450 cars – a record – will meet their fate under the auctioneer's hammer this weekend during the Amelia Island Concours. Scottsdale was positive and Rétromobile recorded its highest-ever combined gross. Will 2023’s momentum be maintained in Florida?
The overall number of entries this year is unlikely to be repeated. Past event auction partner RM Sotheby’s packs its tent and moves to support a new, yet-to-be-announced US concours in 2024.
Californian firm Gooding gave Scottsdale a miss in January and presents 155 cars here over two days. RM executed a last-minute switch to go head-to-head against arch-rival and new official event partner Broad Arrow on Saturday. Bonhams holds a one-day auction at its familiar Fernandina Beach Golf Club location on Thursday.
The estimates are bullish, trading on the solid results in Paris and Arizona. However, as we found there, getting cars across the line requires vendor flexibility – expect heavy pre- and post-sale hustling before the weekend is out.
The 2023 Amelia Island auctions at a glance, Bonhams, Broad Arrow, Gooding and RM Sotheby’s combined (2022):
* Number of cars offered: 455 (244)
* Average of estimates $260,633,500 ($132,015,000)
* Average mid-estimate per car offered: $572,821 ($488,944)
* Most valuable car offered: 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider at Gooding, (est. $18m to $20m)
* Percentage of catalogues at No Reserve: 50% (46%)
* 2022 gross: $129,762,232 at 90% sold by number
* Average year of cars offered: 1969 (1966)
* Highest gross at Amelia Island Concours week 2014-2022: $129,762,232 in 2022 at 90% sold by number
Two California Spiders
In the blue corner is Gooding’s heavyweight challenger, an iconic SWB California Spider. An older but quality restoration, it has covered headlamps, a pretty comprehensive history, Ferrari ‘Red Book’ status and – the big plus – rare and attractive Azzurro Metallizzato paintwork. This is a great spec. The car comes from a respected East Coast stable of mostly coachbuilt Ferraris, having once been rescued (condition unknown) from Rudi Klein’s ‘wrecking yard to the stars’ based in Carson, CA.
Offered at a full retail $18m to $20m, we give it an even chance of selling.
Over in the red corner, RM has an LWB California Spider at a ‘come on’ price of $9m to $11m. Another covered-headlamp car from new, this one also has a Red Book and claims a competition-spec motor. Long-wheelbase cars varied more in specification compared to later SWBs and were sometimes prepped for amateur racing; this one was used by its 18-year-old first US owner on the drag strip.
Delivered new in interesting Blu Genziana over beige leather, the car was misguidedly restored to very high standards in the UK to Amaranto with tan, a configuration in which it won many prizes for its enthusiastic British former owners. Competitively estimated, we expect this to sell.
Gooding weighs in with a concours-standard 1958 250 GT Tour de France Berlinetta ($6m to $8m), a 1973 365 GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ Spider ($2.5m to $3m) and a lovely 1967 275 GTB/4 ($3.5m to $4m). Compare the estimate on the one-of-121 ‘Daytona’ Spider, a US spec car in silver from new, with any of the three F40s (1,300+ built) this week at prices from $1.8m to $3.5m. Changing times or Fools Gold? And RM’s F50 – delivered new to Hong Kong, one of 349 produced in total – carries an even stronger ticket of $4.75m to $6m. It has covered a market-friendly 1,342km (834 miles) but is not a North American-spec car. Should this sell, expect to see a record price for the model.
Elsewhere at Amelia, plan to pay as much for a rarer variant of Testarossa, Dino 206 or 246 GTS as for a ‘Daytona’ Berlinetta. RM again leads the way on pricing, estimating its red-from-new 1974 ‘Chairs and Flairs’ Dino 246 GTS at $650k to $750k, and (non-original, was red) grey 206 GT at $700k to $825k. Bring a Trailer sold a green 206 GT at $720k, but it was an original dark green car. Another contender to watch.
Gooding has a US-spec, boring red/beige 1995 F512 M with 3,572 miles for $675k to $750k.
The three ‘Daytona’ Berlinettas are in the $650k to $750k range. Two are US spec (Gooding’s would be worth a return to Marrone Metallizzato), RM’s is a ‘Plexi’ refugee from Europe delivered new to the Canadian agent in white with red, but repainted black supposedly before delivery to its first owner.
Artcurial sold an ex-Le Mans 1951 340 America Barchetta to a new, relatively young collector at its recent Paris sale for the equivalent of $5.6m. He wanted a car to do events. In a similar vein, Gooding’s 1953 250 MM Spider Series II is up at $3m to $5m this week, though the Californians cannot confirm the originality of the engine.
With the uptick in overall values, ‘Vetroresina’ 308 GTBs have returned to the salerooms: three are offered at Amelia, mostly in the mid/high $200ks. Broad Arrow’s yellow car is the value proposition at $160k to $200k.
Everyone associates Amelia Island with Great Gatsby-era Americana, but post-War products from Stuttgart have been the bedrock of more recent Florida auctions. In 2019, 35% of Gooding’s catalogue here were Porsches. It might not seem like it, but this year the overall number of cars from the German marque is only 62; 14% of the Amelia total.
Broad Arrow has one of the feature lots at Amelia in the form of the ex-Vic Elford, 1968 Targa-Florio-winning factory 907. A fatal accident in its history file when later hillclimbed as a Spyder is a black mark, but the image of the Dayglo-painted car with hand-painted blue numbers driven brilliantly by the late ‘Quick Vic’ is an enduring one. Estimate $4.5m to $5.5m and for similar money to an F50 we rate it.
The rest of the Porsches in the catalogue are typical 2020s auction fare: limited-edition recent cars, Rufs, a couple of 356 Speedsters and a 959 Komfort (with 600bhp Canepa motor) also presented by Broad Arrow, for a turbocharged $1.75m to $2m.
Gooding dips a toe in the sometimes-uncertain waters of the 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 market at Amelia. Its Light Yellow example is a recent restoration and has an often hard-to-find-nowadays original engine. The estimate of $700k to $900k will raise eyebrows in Europe, where usually ‘storied’ cars are sold for €550k to €650k.
Best of the rest
By skipping Arizona, California firm Gooding has packed its catalogue with more interesting entries that include two Alfa Romeo GTAs, a BMW 507 Series II ($1.6m to $1.8m, non-original colour, no mention of matching engine) and a Lancia Stratos for $600k to $700k.
RM has a brace of early 1950s racing Maseratis. The looks of the 1950 A6GCS 2000 ‘Monofaro’ are an acquired taste and the cost of acquisition this week is a reasonable $1.25m to $1.5m. The more elegant 1953 A6GCS/53 Spyder ($2.8m to $3.4m and liable to 2.5% US import duty) is the classic ‘event car’ and carries a price appropriate for the 1950s sports-racer market in 2023.
Broad Arrow capitalises on the recent enthusiasm for AMG-tuned Mercedes and presents a ‘pre-merger’ 1991 AMG 6.0 Widebody Coupé. Based on an unremarkable W124 coupé, the all-blue car is wonderfully OTT with a wild estimate to match: $750k to $850k.
Safe from saleroom comparison with Bonhams’ raft of bargain basement DBs, a couple of Astons at RM are listed at respectable prices. Both originally LHD, the 1962 DB4 Series 4 is an open-headlamp car with three-carb SS engine delivered new to France and comes in at a punchy $800k to $1m. The late-production DB5 was first ordered by a Saudi prince and has many interesting period extras including Normalair a/c. Est. $1.2m to $1.5m.
Bonhams sold its catalogue cover Bugatti T57S by Vanden Plas to the current ‘top tier collector’ owner at the same event in 2016. Then, it raised $9.375m gross against an unofficial estimate of “$11m+”. After a concours-standard restoration that certainly enhanced its lines, the car – with undertones of $100k Alvis in its side profile – is back in at $10m to $12m. It’ll be a test of a much-discussed market.
There is the usual line-up of pricier Americana from the Golden Era of the ’20s and ’30s, as well as interesting Rolls-Royces commissioned at great cost in that period. The value of all these cars, fabulously expensive when ordered, puts the current obsession with nearly new supercars into context.
Half the entries on offer will sell at any price – and most deserve to. Amongst the more interesting ones comes Bonhams’ 1966 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series 2, a tired-looking example we saw at Scottsdale estimated at the widest possible $1m to $2m. RM’s F40 is also No Reserve. It’s a Euro car with adjustable suspension, glass windows and catalysts. Clearly a ‘driver’, it has 45,400km on the odometer (ca. 28,210 miles), no Red Book and fabricated aluminium tanks replacing the limited-life fuel bladders. Est. $1.8m to $2.2m.
So bumper catalogues packed with interesting entries at optimistic prices. Simon comments that the overriding impression gained from studying the catalogues is how terrifically good value the older cars are. Does something you might see on your commute to work belong in a classic car auction? The market is bifurcating into cars for collectors and metal for speculators, each with risk profiles and benefits to suit its players.
Amelia Island 2023 auction schedule:
You can download a complete lot listing sorted by make and model HERE.
Bonhams – Thursday 2 March. Auction at 10:00 EST. Bonhams Pavilion at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club. See www.bonhams.com
Gooding & Co – Thursday 2 March 15:00 EST, Friday 3 March 11:00 EST. Racquet Park, Omni Amelia Island Plantation, 6800 First Coast Hwy, Amelia Island, FL 32034 (one mile south of Amelia Island Parkway). See www.goodingco.com
RM Sotheby's – Saturday 4 March at 12:00 EST. 4171 Amelia Island Pkwy (on) the corner of Amelia Island Parkway and Lynndale Road), Fernandina Beach, FL 32034. See www.rmsothebys.com
Broad Arrow Auctions – Saturday 4 March at 10:00 EST. The Ritz-Carlton, 4750 Amelia Island Parkway, Amelia Island, FL 32034. See www.broadarrowauctions.com