The 19th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, held March 9, 2014, was a resounding success. A packed show field watched Robert Lee’s 1937 Horch 853 Sport Cabriolet and a 1958 Scarab entered by the Revs Institute win Best of Show under sunny skies. But for market observers, the two main auctions held on Friday and Saturday were equally interesting. Collectively, RM Auctions and Gooding & Company tallied $66.9M is sales, which was more than 20% higher than 2013. The average sale price per car rose 10% to $402,777.
For those wondering if and when the collector car market might relax from the stunning tear it made during 2013, the answer is “not yet.” The Arizona auctions in January exhibited strong interest in the market, the French sales during Rétromobile in February reinforced this observation, and the results from Amelia continue apace.
The top sale between the two auctions was the well-known 1937 Delahaye 135 Competition Court Torpedo Roadster from the late Malcolm Pray’s collection. This car had been in Mr. Pray’s ownership for 50 years and had participated in innumerable events. It is one of the most beautiful examples of French Art Deco design, and its well-documented history sets it apart from every car on offer. Its sale reaffirms that the best of the best continue to command top prices.
This doesn’t just hold true with blue chip collectibles. One of the finest Datsun roadsters on the planet sold for $50,600, while a similarly fantastic Volkswagen Beetle earned $82,500. Driver examples of these cars can still be found for less than $10,000 in many cases, but top-quality restorations earning amazing prices illustrates strength for some cars in lower price brackets. Consider this a continuation of the theme on display at the Bonhams Carmel sale of a $48,300 Fiat 124 spider in August and the $46,200 1989 Alfa Romeo Spider sold by Gooding in Scottsdale this past January. Restoring these cars to such a high standard still doesn’t make pure economic sense, but the financial calculus is shifting.
The list of strong sales is lengthy. Two Ferrari Dinos (an early 206 and a one-of-five chairs-and-flares U.S.-spec coupe) sold for $638,000 and $627,000, respectively. Gooding sold a 1988 BMW M6 sold for an exceptionally strong $57,200, and RM surely broke a record with the 1971 Mini Moke it sold for $49,500. Of course, all auctions have bargains, and there were several to be found among pre-war cars. Specifically, Gooding & Company traded a nice 1941 Buick Super convertible for $35,200.
A new development was in the emergence of Porsches. In 2010, there were more than two times the number of Ferraris as Porsches (11 vs. five), and three of the past four years saw more cars offered from Modena than Stuttgart (the only exception being in 2012 when Gooding consigned the Drendel family’s 18-car Porsche collection). In 2014, the trend was reversed when RM and Gooding combined to offer 20 Porsches and 13 Ferraris (the lowest number of Ferraris offered in Amelia since 2010). This can be read in two ways. First, skyrocketing Porsche prices are bringing more to market as owners are seeing an opportunity and buyers are hoping to hop on board while they still can. Secondly, skyrocketing Ferrari prices may be giving owners pause before putting their cars up for sale, knowing that they may be shutting themselves out of the Ferrari market in the future.
Overall Top 10 Sales:
- 1937 Delahaye 135 Competition Torpedo Roadster sold for $6,600,000 (RM)
- 1968 Porsche 907 Longtail Coupe sold for $3,630,000 (Gooding)
- 1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder sold for $3,300,000 (Gooding)
- 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupe sold for $2,530,000 (Gooding)
- 1958 BMW 507 Roadster sold for $2,420,000 (RM)
- 1964 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster sold for $2,035,000 (Gooding)
- 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster sold for $1,842,500 (RM)
- 1958 BMW 507 Roadster sold for $1,815,000 (Gooding)
- 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SII PF Cabriolet sold for $1,760,000 (RM)
- 1934 Duesenberg Model SJ Convertible Sedan sold for $1,567,500 (RM)
The next major market milestone happens in May when Mecum conducts its annual Spring Classic in Indianapolis. That sale brings approximately 2,000 mainstream American cars to market over a span of six days, and is a high-profile barometer for how healthy the middle of the market is. Marquee cars for this sale include a 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 convertible, a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss