The top 10 sales from 2021’s Amelia Island and Indy live auctions

RM Sotheby's/Drew Shipley

May 2021 brought the first large in-person auctions after the COVID-19 vaccines began to roll out across the country. Held within a cautious return to normalcy, the spring auctions have taught us some key lessons, two of which are readily apparent from the top 10 results: Prewar cars and stick-shift Ferraris can still bring strong bids.

While a few auction houses skipped the bidding brouhaha that is Amelia Island, the slight reduction in car numbers didn’t stifle the flow of cash. Indeed, the successful auctions in Florida, as well as the big sales and even bigger no-sales in Indianapolis, have proven that the collector car market, which the pandemic hardly stymied, is set to grow as both live auctions and road trips reappear on everyone’s calendars. Here are the top 10 live auction sales from this month that prove buyers are ready to get back into the swing of things.

1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Torpedo Convertible Coupe

RM Sotheby's/Ryan Merrill

RM Sotheby’s, Lot 156


This sale was perhaps the biggest surprise. Presale estimates had pegged this gorgeous droptop to sell for around $4,000,000. Its sleek, brushed-aluminum body was restored in 2015 and helped this Duesey net a Best-in-Class finish at the 2020 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.

1934 Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster


Bonhams, Lot 160


This car’s well-documented restoration and interesting history aside, it’s still a gorgeous example of Mercedes design and engineering prowess. With a fully independent suspension and an on-demand Roots supercharger, the 500K was a mechanical marvel. This particular example, which sold for $4.9M, represented Bonham’s biggest sale at Amelia Island.

1995 Ferrari F50 Coupe

Ferrari F50 front three-quarter
RM Sotheby's

RM Sotheby’s, Lot 181


Ferrari’s followup to the iconic F40 ditched the turbocharged V-8 in favor of a naturally aspirated V-12 that had its genesis in F1 engine tech. Truly a technological tour de force, the F50 was the last Ferrari supercar to offer both a manual transmission and an open-air driving experience. The #1 (Concours) value of these supercars has been at $2.5M for the last two years, so this $3.77M result far exceeded our expectations.

1930 Duesenberg Model SJ Rollston Convertible Victoria

1930 Duesenberg Model SJ Rollston Convertible Victoria front

Mecum, Lot S135


The fact that it’s supercharged makes this Rollston Convertible Victoria a one-of-one. This car represented the pinnacle of prewar American luxury and performance with more than 300 hp and the ability to hit 100 mph in second gear. It’s stately and—thanks to a low windshield that practically looks like it’s already been chopped—speedy all in one. The supercharged Rollston droptop sold squarely within its $2,750,000–$3,250,000 estimate.

1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Coupe

RM Sotheby's/Rasy Ran

RM Sotheby’s, Lot 136


The 275 was Ferrari’s successor to the 250 GT Lusso and it saw the Columbo V-12 grow to 3.3 liters. This beautiful grand tourer spent 47 years in the hands of a single owner. One of just 330 produced over three years, chassis 10987 was the recipient of a two-year restoration and maintains its numbers-matching V-12 engine and transmission.

1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider

Ferrari 365 front three-quarter
RM Sotheby's/Robin Adams

RM Sotheby’s, Lot 176


At this point, it shouldn’t be a surprise that an open-air, three-pedal Ferrari made a strong showing. The lithe droptop Daytona, which was built in much larger numbers as a coupe, benefits from relative rarity, too. This fabulous example is number 36 of just 121 Spiders produced and has a great ownership history to back up its low-mileage original mechanicals.

1913 Mercer Type 35K Runabout


Bonham’s, Lot 142


This recent sale, a record for the Mercer marque, proves that no matter the era, droptop, manual-transmission sports cars will have a market. Though the name may be unfamiliar to many today, Mercers were among the first cars to catch the eyes of established collectors due to their spirited character and race-winning reputation on board tracks. This car sold for $412,000 back in 2004; clearly, its appeal hasn’t faded.

1992 Ferrari F40 Coupe

Ferrari F40 front three-quarter
RM Sotheby's/Drew Shipley

RM Sotheby’s, Lot 151


The quintessential Ferrari supercar, the F40 is powered by a mid-mounted, 2.9-liter, twin-turbo V-8. The Hagerty Price Guide value on these classic ’90s dynamos has increased by about 20 percent in the last two years, but this sale eclipsed our #1 (Concours) condition value by nearly 25 percent. Numbers-matching with just 3300 miles on its odometer, this is one of the last F40s produced for North America and might be the most well-preserved example.

2020 Ford GT Mk II Coupe


Mecum, Lot S209.1


Typically a race car’s wins and heroic feats make it a valuable commodity. This one-off GT in historic Le Mans livery, however, is a bit of an oddity: It has just 15 miles on the odometer and has never set rubber on a racetrack. Unlike the previous second-gen GTs that burst onto the auction scene without Ford’s blessing, this one was fair game to sell and it was also more powerful than the “average” GTs that produced a paltry 647 hp. With 700 horses and an even more track-focused nature, this Mk II Coupe represents one of the meanest production cars Ford ever built.

1969 Ford Big Oly Bronco


Mecum, Lot F131


One of the biggest names in racing helped make this race-winning thoroughbred the most expensive truck ever sold at auction. This Bronco is truly a one-of-a-kind racer born of a one-of-a-kind scenario: It was built for, raced by, and sold by Parnelli. Although it hardly resembles a production vehicle, the fiberglass-bodied racer is still one of the most recognizable Broncos ever built. It’s tough to imagine the pickup that would top Big Oly.

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