A 1963 Ferrari 250/275P (left) and a 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ Convertible won Best in Show.

Photographer: Deremer Studios LLC

A 1963 Ferrari 250/275P (left) and a 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ Convertible won Best in Show.

Photographer: Deremer Studios LLC

At Amelia Island, the Best Cars Were Not the Most Expensive Ones

Ferraris led the weekend as usual. But there were some more fun oddities to enjoy.

Forget the uncertainty surrounding the future of driving. When it comes to the collector car market, the idea of metal, grit, grease, and a healthy growling engine is alive and well. But rather than race only for blue-chip Ferraris, the segment is steering toward less-expensive, although high-quality, offerings. Consider it a car market for the thinking man. 

Last weekend, at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, buyers spent $80.5 million on some of the most beautiful, rarest cars in the world. The annual gathering off the coast of Florida is globally considered the second-most-prestigious car show, after the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held every August in Carmel, Calif. But when it comes to attracting die-hard enthusiasts—and the most discerning, patient collectors—Amelia reigns supreme.

As one prominent collector put it, Pebble Beach is the show you have to attend; Amelia Island is the show you want to attend. The auctions often set the tone for how succeeding auctions may play out, indicating what collectors and speculators can expect from the sales in Monaco, England, and Carmel later this year. The big takeaway after Saturday’s totals? People will pay plenty of money for the “right” thing—not necessarily the biggest or the most-hyped. “In some ways, the thrill is gone, as far as seven-figure cars go,” said Dave Kinney, the publisher of Hagerty’s Price Guide. “But while some of the stars disappointed, interest in the sub-$1 million market is growing.”

Best in Show (Times Two)

Best in Show (Times Two)

This year the Concours d’Elegance Trophy went to Harry Yeaggy’s 1929 Duesenberg J/SJ Convertible (left). The award for Best in Show Concours de Sport went to a 1963 Ferrari 250/275P from The JSL Motorsports Collection of Redwood City, Calif. The cars won for their meticulous restorations, their rarity, and their racing history, in addition to exceptional design and performance capabilities for their time. 

Photographer: Deremer Studios LLC
The Big One

The Big One

It’s ironic that a dusty, unrestored barn-find cost the most of any car sold, but this was the top-selling car of the weekend: a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy Coupe went for $2.53 million. The car’s thoroughbred racing heritage, coupled with the fact that the car had remained untouched for so many years, pushed its price to stratospheric levels.  

Photographer: Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Co.

The Data 

The Data 

This year, Amelia Island’s relaxed atmosphere compressed slightly as two days of auctions were bundled into one, because of a rain warning for Sunday. According to Hagerty, overall results reflected the increased activity. The final tally of $80.5 million in sales was down from 2017’s $120.3 million total, well below Hagerty’s forecast of $91 million. On the bright side, the sell-through rate for lots bid at $1 million or below was 73 percent, up from 70 percent at the Scottsdale, Ariz., auctions in January. In all, 334 of 489 cars sold at an average price of $240,794, down from last year’s average of $333,219. Total sell-through rates were 68 percent, up 2 percent over last year. 

Photographer: Deremer Studios LLC
On the Links

On the Links

Guests inspect a few of the more than 300 classic cars and motorcycles on the 10th, 18th, and 1st fairways of the Golf Club of Amelia Island next to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, near Jacksonville, Fla. More than 10,000 people attended the weekend gathering. Two of the top sellers were a 2003 Ferrari Enzo ($2.3 million) and a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose ($2.2 million). The top-selling non-Ferrari was a 1967 Ford MK IV that went for $1.925 million.

Photographer: Deremer Studios LLC
The Mood

The Mood

Amelia Island is second to Pebble Beach in global prestige, but it’s first when it comes to attracting true car enthusiasts. The auctions are arranged with a bar and food at the back, with entry open only to ticket-holders and Gooding’s legendary auctioneer, Charlie Ross, at the podium. Strong sellers included a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe ($1.077 million) and a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Hibbard & Darrin Imperial Cabriolet ($995,000), both from RM Sotheby’s. Gooding’s 1966 Shelby Cobra 428 Roadster ($1.457 million), and 1976 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo Coupe ($1.32 million) took big sums, too.

Photographer: Mike Maez, courtesy of Gooding & Co.

The Icon

The Icon

This 2003 Ferrari Enzo Coupe was the second-highest seller of the weekend, fetching $2.36 million at the Gooding & Co. auction on Friday. Overall, the average sale price of a car at Amelia Island in 2018 was $240,794; last year's was $333,219.

Photographer: Brian Henniker, courtesy of Gooding & Co.

The Italian Stallion

The Italian Stallion

This 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Coupe took $2.2 million at the RM Sotheby's auction (Lot 148) on Friday. It was the third-highest sale amount at auction during the weekend, and second-highest for a 275 Ferrari. The red car from the vaunted Italian automaker was Sotheby’s highest-seller. 

Photographer: Peter Singhof © 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

German Engineering

German Engineering

This 1993 Porsche 911 Turbo S Leichtbau Coupe sold for $1.76 million at the Gooding & Co. auction on Friday, making it the top-selling Porsche. This color, Midnight Blue Metallic, is also thought to be a bespoke mix for the owner who originally ordered the car. Porsche performed the best of any marque, pulling off the rare feat of matching the blue-chip Ferraris as the top-selling brand at the event. Porsches returned an exceptional sell-through rate of 89 percent, making nearly $25 million, all told.

Photographer: Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Co.

Still Got It

Still Got It

One segment of cars that continued to do well among the older, wealthy bidders was the prewar classics. For example, this 1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S Boattail Cabriolet took $1.27 million at RM Sotheby’s auction on Friday. It was the auction house's fourth-highest seller. 

Photographer: Darin Schnabel © 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Racing Green

The Racing Green

One factor that distinguishes Amelia’s concours from that of Pebble Beach is the proliferation in Florida of historic and important race cars such as these. The lawn at Amelia contains Formula 1 and endurance-racing cars from multiple eras and brands, and this year, two-time Indy 500-winner Emerson Fittipaldi was the show's guest of honor. 

Photographer: Deremer Studios LLC
Anniversary Year

Anniversary Year

This 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8 Coupe sold for $1.65 million at RM Sotheby's sale, and the second-most-expensive Porsche. The so-called Type 964 was stouter and smoother than its predecessors, making for a more powerful, connected ride. Expect continuing interest in Porsche for the rest of the brand's 70th-anniversary year. RM Sotheby’s has announced it will hold a Porsche-only sale at the brand’s Atlanta headquarters later this year. 

Photographer: Darin Schnabel ©2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

American Power 

American Power 

This 1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV Coupe, which sold for $1.925 million, was the first complete car designed and built (largely by specialists in the U.K.) solely for racing by Ford Motor Co. Its first outing came at the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it took first place. This car was the fourth-highest seller of the weekend—and the last of its kind to be built. 

Photographer: Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Co.

A Final Look

A Final Look

All told, said Hagerty's David Kinney, expect a continued focus on more modern cars, especially those with a legitimate motor sports connection or an outstanding performance pedigree. As for the best of the best, results will be dicey, he said: “The top of the market is as choosy as ever."

Photographer: Deremer Studios LLC