7 sweet bargains from the 2019 Amelia Island auctions

With vehicles selling for an average price of $247,906 at the 2019 Amelia Island auctions, it wasn’t easy for budget-minded mortals to find a deal. Yes, as always, the pockets run deep at Amelia. However, at any auction it’s inevitable that a few cars will slip through the cracks and into the hands of a savvy collector.

We looked at every vehicle on offer at Amelia. Now that the results are in, here are some of the biggest bargains of the week. The key word here, of course, is bargain. Few of these cars would be considered cheap to the majority of us, but they sold well under their average value.

1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing

1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing
Bonhams
1974 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing

Sold for $11,760 (Bonhams)

This is a driver-quality VW Thing, far from perfect and quickly refurbished on a budget. It also has some aftermarket touches like blue and white seat covers, custom tonneau cover, and incorrect paint, which takes away from its value. But at less than $12K, it’s 23-percent cheaper than its average value of $15,300, giving the buyer tons of beach-cruising per dollar.

The only other Thing on the island sold for 4.5 times as much money ($53,760)—but it isn’t 4.5 times as nice, and in a world where VW Transporters are bringing six-figure prices, this is a sweet deal.

1939 BSA Scout

1939 BSA Scout
Bonhams
1939 BSA Scout

Sold for $16,800 (Bonhams)

Pre-war vehicles, specifically the brass-era (1890–1919) motorcars from the Don C. Boulton collection, sold quite well at Bonhams, but this later pre-war BSA flew under the radar. BSA (Birmingham Small Arms) is mostly known for its speedy motorcycles, firearms, and the occasional tank. Most people don’t know that the company also churned out quite a few cars up until 1939, including the nifty little front-drive Scout, so at the very least this car will be a guaranteed conversation starter.

It’s currently in #3+ (Good+) condition, making it a good driver for events and casual cruising. It also sold for well under its $20,000 low estimate, and at less than $17 grand it costs about as much as an MG TD in this condition. I’s a heck of a lot rarer and more interesting than the MG, and that counts for a lot.

1966 Mercedes-Benz 230SL

1966 Mercedes-Benz 230SL
Bonhams
1966 Mercedes-Benz 230SL

Sold for $33,600 (Bonhams)

Values for W113 “Pagoda” (1963–71) SLs peaked in 2016 with the best cars hitting six figures, but they’ve dipped to more realistic levels since then. Even so, the price for this 230 surprised us. The car is pretty rough around the edges and in #3 (Good) condition, but it’s a desirable Euro-market car in attractive colors and it has the rare four-speed, which ordinarily should carry a 10-percent premium. It sold for barely more than project car money.

1972 Jaguar E-Type SIII Coupe

1972 Jaguar E-Type SIII Coupe
Bonhams
1972 Jaguar E-Type SIII Coupe

Sold for $29,120 (Bonhams)

A Series III (1971–75) E-Type Coupe is one of the cheapest tickets to E-Type ownership, and the optional three-speed automatic normally carries a further 15-percent knock to value. But that doesn’t explain the rock-bottom price for this otherwise well kept, mostly original Fawn over Biscuit leather XKE. Like the Mercedes 230SL from earlier in the Bonhams sale, it’s not perfect (we rated it in #2- condition), but it’s a lot better than the project car price it brought.

1974 BMW 2002 Turbo

1974 BMW 2002 Turbo
Gooding & Company
1974 BMW 2002 Turbo

Sold for $112,000 (Gooding & Company)

In the past two years, we’ve seen five 2002 Turbos sell for at least $140,000, with one selling for $192,500 at this auction last year. BMW values in general are on the rise, and a top-tier, historically significant model like the 2002 Turbo has good long-term potential for growth. This car, though, went against the grain. Offered at no reserve early on in Gooding & Company’s sale, it is a lot better than its price would suggest. A well-restored car that we rated in #2 (Excellent) condition, it could have conceivably brought another $40 grand without being considered expensive.

1962 Lancia Flaminia

1962 Lancia Flaminia
Bonhams
1962 Lancia Flaminia

Sold for $22,400 (Bonhams)

A V-6 engine, rear-wheel drive (many Lancias moved to front-drive in later years), and Pininfarina bodywork make the Flaminia a nifty little car, even in fairly rough condition like the one that sold at Amelia. All original, other than a tired repaint, it is in #3 (Good) condition, but if you’re into the patina look it’s nicely mellowed. Plus it’s not missing any trim or other pieces, and the black over red really does the car justice. The car will likely need work (like most Lancias do), but at 31-percent below its average value of $30,300, the new owner has plenty of money left over to do it.

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL
Russo and Steele
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Sold for $990,000 (Russo and Steele)

It feels a little weird to call out Russo and Steele’s most expensive car as the sale’s biggest bargain, but a really good Gullwing for less than a million dollars is a sweet deal. And this is a really good Gullwing. Don’t just take my word for it; I talked briefly with the buyer, who didn’t even look at the car prior to the sale and had no intention of buying it. After seeing the bids stall at 800 grand, though, and with a little liquid courage, he couldn’t walk away from it. Two Mercedes experts looked at the car later and told him, “You stole it.” In very rare circumstances, a little impulsiveness pays off.