The 2018 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance kicks off this week, as buyers, sellers, and enthusiasts of all sorts descend upon Florida for another lineup of rarefied metal. Amelia represents one of the most important events of the American collector car market. Whereas RM Auctions used to host the weekend’s lone sale, essentially offering a regional draw for cars whose owners didn’t want to make the trek to the Scottsdale auctions or perhaps weren’t noteworthy enough to appear in Monterey, there are now five companies conducting auctions over four days. Some of the year’s most significant are cars up for grabs, too.
“In a lot of ways, Amelia Island is a more accurate market barometer than Arizona and Kissimmee,” says market analysis veteran Colin Comer. “So many people wait to see what happens in January before acting, so this week is the first major public opportunity to read just how buyers and sellers interpreted those sales.”
Nevertheless, Hagerty analysts forecast this year’s results will total $91 million, down 24 percent from last year (when RM Sotheby’s held a two-day auction) and 35 percent down from the week’s 2016 high (the year many of Jerry Seinfeld’s cars hit the block). The driving factor behind the drop isn’t necessarily an icy market, but rather the fact that there are no major collections being sold this year. The number of cars offered across all the Amelia auctions is down 11 percent, and the number of cars worth in excess of $5 million is down from six to two.
Exiting the Arizona auctions, we noted there were soft results at the top of the market—a segment that is often seen as a leading indicator for where the overall market is headed. A few weeks later, the results in Paris at the auctions congregated in and around Rétromobile echoed this analysis.
The strength of Blue Chip cars will be the top story to watch at Amelia. “There is some speculation this is an issue relating to changes in U.S. tax laws,” says Dave Kinney, publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide. “Along with the loss of the ability to affect a tax-delayed exchange on automobiles, a number of potential buyers have adopted a wait-and-see stance for both buying and selling in light of the tax law changes.”
We’ll also be keeping a close eye on the massive gaggle of Porsches bound for Amelia. Fernandina Beach is now the closest thing to Little Stuttgart as you’re likely to find, with thousands of Porschephiles flooding the area to ogle the splendid array of models at the Concours and to attend the Porsche Club of America’s Werks Reunion. In response, 37 percent of Gooding’s lots and 19 percent of RM Sotheby’s are Porsches. There will be no fewer than 18 964s. Sometimes assembling a large number of the same model can draw lots of buyers who then compete for each and every car; other times it results in an oversupply that drags down prices on all but the best examples.
Amelia should also be a chance to peel back the curtain behind the prewar market—is it dead? There was little interest in prewar cars in Arizona, which could have been more of a reflection of the types of buyers strolling through Scottsdale than it was the market for those cars themselves. There are a surprisingly high number of prewar lots available in Florida and there should be more buyers on site who are drawn to that genre, so this should provide a better clue.
Be sure to download the Hagerty Insider iOS app to watch the results in real time. For now, here are the cars with the top 10 highest estimates going into the Amelia Island auctions.