Auction Preview: RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2017

With Scottsdale barely past us, we’re looking forward to the lavish Amelia Island sales, especially the RM Sotheby’s auction held at the Ritz-Carlton. Measuring by presale estimate, RM Sotheby’s has a more valuable consignment list this year than last, and will be hoping to beat 2016’s total of $38.6 million. This year’s sale has the usual mix of rare high-dollar collector cars, including a large collection of Bentleys and a one-off HRG Airline Coupe, plus a surprising number of front-engine Porsches. Here are five of RM’s premiere consignments that we’ll be watching.

1966 Aston Martin Short-Chassis Volante
Presale estimate: $1,600,000 – $2,000,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot 139
When Aston Martin introduced the DB6, they had 37 leftover chassis from the DB5, which was shorter than the upcoming model. The company decided to turn these into complete “interim” cars, which were essentially DB5 convertibles with details from the upcoming DB6. They’re referred to as Short Chassis Volantes, and are apparently the first Astons to carry the Volante name that has been synonymous with open Astons ever since. This car is the very first one built, and has been upgraded with Vantage-spec Weber carbs, larger displacement and a Tremec 5-speed transmission in place of the original ZF gearbox. While that improves drivability, it will likely be a turnoff to some purists, which explains why the presale estimate is about the going rate for a normal DB5 convertible.

1937 Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet
Presale estimate: $8,500,000 – $10,000,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot 232
The Type 57S could be bought with factory coachwork, but the era’s best French coachbuilders also had their go, including Vanvooren of Paris. This one was ordered new by a Parisian mining technology magnate who had lost a leg during the World War I. As a result, he was chauffeured around town. One of four such 57S Cabriolets by Vanvooren, a procession of Bugatti collectors have owned it ever since and it still looks spectacularly original with the same body, chassis, engine and gearbox that it was born with. A number of Bugattis are not without stories or sketchy histories, so one like this that checks the right boxes will grab collectors’ attention.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB
Presale estimate: $9,000,000 – $10,000,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $8,800,000 – $12,500,000
Lot 254
This 250 SWB, one of 165 built, was constructed to road car specs but had competition features like a ribbed gearbox, competition-spec Weber carburetors, Abarth exhaust, hotter cams and beefier shocks, making it one of the “semi-competition” SWBs. It was modified considerably later in its life, including recessed headlights like a California Spider which must have looked either fantastic or really strange. But this Short Wheel-Base was fully restored in 2015 and is now a correct, matching numbers, Classiche certified car that has even won Best of Show at the Concorso Italiano.

1928 Bentley 4 ½-Litre Le Mans Sports “The Bobtail”
Presale estimate: $6,500,000 – $7,500,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot 266
Bentley won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930. This car was one of three built at Bentley’s then-new racing shop for the 1928 race, which it led for a time before retiring due to overheating problems. For the ‘29 race, Bentleys finished a dominant first, second, third and fourth, with this car taking the last spot on the podium. It’s been restored twice, but with sympathy paid to preservation. Most recently, it sold for $6,050,000 at Gooding’s Pebble Beach auction in 2012. The current world record for a Bentley is $7.8 million, so if conditions are right this car might get close.

1950 Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta
Presale estimate: $8,000,000 – $10,000,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A
Lot 278
The Ferrari 166 is the only car to win the Mille Miglia, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Targa Florio, making it the most famous of the early racing Ferraris. Only 32 examples of the 166 MM (Mille Miglia) were built, and this one was owned by future Lancia and Scuderia Ferrari driver Eugenio Castelotti. While it didn’t score any major victories, the car competed in the Mille Miglia in 1951 and ‘53 as well as the Pebble Beach Road Races. It has remained in California for most of its life and is reportedly quite original still.

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