Auction Preview: Bonhams Amelia Island 2017

This is Bonhams third year at Amelia Island. And while they lack last year’s headline car, a $9.7-million Vanden Plas-bodied Bugatti Type 57SC, the usual mix of sports and exotics, along with a sizable group of veteran and prewar luxury cars will be there. Here are five of the high-profile consignments that we’ll be monitoring.

1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT
Presale estimate: $2,300,000 – $2,600,000
Hagerty Price Guide: 1,850,000 – $2,350,000
Lot: 144
Only two 250 Europa GTs were built with alloy bodywork. This is one of them and it carries extra competition equipment because it was built for the 1955 Mille Miglia, although it was not completed in time. The 250 Europa isn’t typically associated with competition, but the racing modifications on this car included a slightly different chassis layout, wider track, improved brakes and magnesium gearbox casing. The car eventually made its way to the U.S., where after a clutch failure it had a Corvette gearbox and rear axle fitted. All the correct stuff went back on the car during restoration, however, and it has since been shown at Pebble Beach and the Concorso Italiano.

1968 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Race Car
Presale estimate: $300,000 – $400,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot: 127
This car is arguably the most desirable racing Firebird of them all, even though it’s actually a Z/28 Camaro under the skin. Pontiac didn’t have a properly-sized engine for the Trans Am series, so racer Jerry Titus rebodied a Camaro to look like the new Firebird. At the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1969, the car ran in a production-car class against much faster prototype racers like the Lola T70, Porsche 908 and aging Ford GT40. Most of the prototypes retired, however, giving the car a first in class finish and third overall behind two Lolas. The car raced in Mexico subsequently, but has since been restored to its Daytona livery. This won’t be the world’s most expensive Firebird (that honor goes to the $550,000 Smokey and the Bandit car that Barrett-Jackson sold last year), but it might get close.

1954 Arnolt Bristol Prototype
Presale estimate: $400,000 – $500,000
Hagerty Price Guide:  $235,000 – $430,000
Lot: 150
The Arnolt Bristol is about as international as a car got in the 1950s. Built with American money, vision and business connections, it has Italian bodywork from Bertone that’s laid over the British Bristol 404, which itself had an engine derived from the German BMW 328. It was a particularly successful little car on the track, and barely 100 were built with about 90 believed to exist. What sets this one apart is that it was the factory prototype for this memorable international effort. It was found in rough shape during the ‘90s, and thoroughly restored over 20 years, borrowing numerous components from a parts car. It looks fantastic now, and Arnolt Bristols are eligible for lots of the high profile vintage driving events.

1938 Talbot-Lago T150C Cabriolet
Presale estimate: $1,200,000 – $1,500,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot: 169Ω
While it was meant to support more luxurious coachwork than the hotter T150 SS, the T150C nevertheless had an impressive power-to-weight ratio for the late 1930s as well as serious racing pedigree and usually graceful, voluptuous coachwork. Just 51 examples of the T150C were produced, and this cabriolet version features factory coachwork developed from the original Figoni design. It is less flamboyant than some of his other designs, but nevertheless elegant. The car was owned by Briggs Cunningham during the ‘60s, and was fully restored from 2012-16.

1957 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint
Presale estimate: $200,000 – $250,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $163,000 – $392,000
Lot: 158
The 1900 model is one of the more important Alfa Romeos because it signaled the company’s shift from big, expensive cars to smaller volume-produced models following World War II. Alfas of this period are also supremely fun to drive at speed, and this example was set up exactly for that. Rebuilt in the ‘90s for touring and other driving events, it ran the 1992 Mille Miglia Retrospective and has been a carefully maintained event car ever since. It looks ready for much more fun.

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