These 3 unlikely cars went for big bucks at Amelia Island

Hagerty valuation specialists are constantly looking at auction and private sales results to keep a finger on the pulse of the collector car market. After each big auction there are always a few notable sales that make us reconsider just how collectible certain models are. There were three major breakout sales at this year’s 2019 Amelia Island auctions; each was rather unexpected.

1973 Volkswagen Thing

1973 Volkswagen Thing
Gooding & Company
1973 Volkswagen Thing

Lot 14 (Gooding & Company)

Sold for $53,760

The VW Thing is a go-anywhere amalgam of VW Type 1 Beetle, Karmann Ghia, and Transporter hardware. Its faceted styling is like a low-poly version of the Beetle, and its utilitarian nature makes it a unique option for adventure seekers. Thanks to its common underpinnings and simple flat-four engine, keeping one on the road is a cinch, but the short production run means they are much harder to come by than just about any other air-cooled VW sold in the U.S. Despite the Thing’s relative rarity, it has remained pleasantly affordable—until recently.

This beautiful, low-mileage example offered at Amelia sold for a surprisingly strong $53,760. That’s more than 75-percent higher than the $30,100 average value of a Thing in #1 (Concours) condition.

1996 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo

1996 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo
RM Sotheby's
1996 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo

Lot 102 (RM Sotheby’s)

Sold for $53,200

Younger collectors are creating an increase in demand for ’90s Japanese sports cars, and while the Toyota Supra and Acura NSX are getting the bulk of the attention, it’s a tide that’s raising all ships, including the Nissan 300ZX. It’s no surprise that the highest-performance, lowest-production versions of the stylish coupe are heating up the most, and this twin-turbo, all-wheel-steering model is the pick of the litter.

The $53,200 sale is a public auction record for a 300ZX and exceeds our average Concours-condition value of $41,400. Recently, values for pristine-quality cars have surged to keep pace with the market. Hagerty valuation specialists noted that this 2800-mile survivor was in near-new condition and may be one of the very best in existence.

1959 Fiat 600 Jolly

1959 Fiat 600 Jolly
Gooding & Company
1959 Fiat 600 Jolly

Lot 64 (Gooding & Company)

Sold for $123,200

Based on the common Fiat 500 and 600, approximately 650 Fiats were modified by Ghia into canopy-topped, doorless beach cruisers for tropical resort use. They’re quirky, they’re rare, and lately they’ve been a hot commodity. Prices for a #1-condition, Concours-quality Jolly average $101,000, but this one sold for $123,200, more than a third above its high estimate. That makes it at least the fourth Jolly that has sold for well over its pre-auction estimate in the last six years, including a record $170,500 for a 1960 Jolly at Scottsdale in 2015. The Jolly evidently is an interesting piece for collectors with an itch for something rare. On the plus side, it doesn’t take up much space.