Market Finds: What Does The Collector Car Market Look Like After Amelia Island?

What Does The Collector Car Market Look Like After Amelia Island?

Avatar By Benjamin Shahrabani
March 15, 2016
17 comments

Photography by Nate Stevens

It feels like only a few short weeks ago we were lamenting the somewhat stagnant auction results from Scottsdale, and looking ahead to Amelia Island to see if what transpired was just a blip in the market, or perhaps the beginning of a downward trend.

Reviewing the numbers from the auction houses in attendance at Amelia Island, however—Gooding & Company, RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, and upstart Hollywood Wheels—we can definitely say the crystal ball is perhaps a little clearer.

First, the good news: quality continues to sell. Wares from marques like Ferrari, Porsche, Bugatti, Mercedes-Benz, and the like continue to be in demand, but perhaps one didn’t need a crystal ball to predict that.

A 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder, as featured in the movie Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow with Sophia Loren, sold for the princely sum of $17,160,000, setting both the record for both the Gooding & Company auction house and the Amelia Island auctions overall. Bonham’s star car, a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Sports Tourer, traded hands for $9,735,000, and set the Amelia Island record for a single day until that pesky Ferrari California at Gooding’s crossed the block less than 24 hours later and obliterated the record. RM Sotheby’s had some more quiet success with Ferrari, with a 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica LWB Coupe Aerodinamico crossing the block at $4,400,000. In much the same vein, the Seinfeld Collection garnered significant interest against high expectations, with all but one of the comedian’s cars sold, and realizing just over $22 million dollars for the funnyman and Gooding (once again).

Looking at the bigger picture versus just a few particular sales, the outlook was a bit more upbeat and rosy—especially so after Scottsdale. With its second sale at Amelia Island, Bonhams reported earnings of $27.5 million on 80 cars at the 2016 edition of Amelia, compared to $14 million last year. The sell-through rate slumped somewhat to 65% compared to almost 80% one year ago.

Gooding & Company earned just over $60 million from 79 cars offered compared to $27 million last year, with a sell-through of 87%. However, RM Sotheby’s—while setting an auction record with that Ferrari Aerodinamico—experienced a bit of a pullback overall from the highs of 2015. Its total was $38.6 million against a high 89% sell-through rate, strong results by any measure except its $60 million performance last year. Hollywood Wheels, a newcomer to the collector car auction scene, offered up an all-Porsche auction, taking in $1.8 million from a 42% sell-through rate.

The Overall Top 10 List, prices inclusive of commission

  1. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider—$17,160,000—Gooding & Company
  2. 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Sports Tourer—$9,735,000—Bonhams
  3. 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder—$5,335,000—Gooding & Company
  4. 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica LWB Coupe Aerodinamico—$4,400,000—RM Sotheby’s
  5. 1959 Porsche 718 RSK—$3,300,000—Gooding & Company
  6. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk1—$3,300,000—Gooding & Company
  7. 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder—$3,000,000—Gooding & Company
  8. 1937 Mercedes Benz 540 K Cabriolet A—$2,970,000—Bonhams
  9. 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4—$2,750,000—Bonhams
  10. 1931 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing-Top Convertible Coupe—$2,640,000—Gooding & Company

Overall sales were almost $134 million, up from $115 million last year, with a corresponding bump in average sale price at $437,834 per lot, compared to $324,466 the year prior. While there may be a few post-sale transactions that smudge final numbers a bit, looking at the auction catalogues, and seeing what did and did not sell, we can perhaps say that perhaps a resurgence and renewed confidence brought back pocketbooks that were a bit more willing to open wide at Amelia Island, at least for top-tier cars that sold well.

As has been the trend for a few years, pre-war and early post-war American cars didn’t do quite so well, with a continuing diminishing audience and market for them. Another segment that saw some pullback was the modern classics from the ’80s and ’90s, but a correction was perhaps overdue due to the run-up in prices over the past few years. It may well be temporary.

At Amelia Island it seems, we aren’t seeing any signs of an imminent crash, but perhaps a continuing correction on a few different types of cars. C’est la vie, but overall, the market seems to be healthy.

Our best advice though, if you’re thinking of dipping a toe or two into the market? Buy cars you love, because like the old saying goes, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”


 

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Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Ben S ; Apologies for the excess words and postings but this one last thing needs to be said ; As for whether or not need may or may not be driving some of the current wave of sell offs ; You would be shocked as well as more than likely appalled if you knew how many millionaires [ and some billionaires ] are investment rich but cash poor . Especially those in the entertainment world . I’m not pointing any fingers mind you . But trust me .. especially when it comes to many mere [ cough ] millionaires… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Oh dear .. it seems the system decided to multiply my reply to Mr Dickerson . If I’m in any way to blame .. apologies … if not …give the system a good wack on the silicone chip … 😉

Amir Kakhsaz
Amir Kakhsaz

Don’t start drinking so early in the day.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Your statistics and conclusions though interesting are in fact anything but accurate or complete. More often than not your numbers are ignoring the facts behind some of the number such as the celebrity bump Seinfeld’s Porsche’s garnered [ as much as $150k over and above market value ] not to mention the Ferrari California for which without that celebrity ‘ bump ‘ would of brought in significantly less than it did . Then …. you are completely ignoring the mass sell off’s happening with many collectors who are either thinning their cars in order to take advantage of the market… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Mr Shahrabani … Horsefeathers . those collectors are selling off because they know something you do not . Dig deeper and you’ll see what it is

re; The Porsche market .. is a bubble thats peaking if not already peaked .. heading rapidly towards bursting as we speak . And every Porsche expert / pundit etc knows it

Amir Kakhsaz
Amir Kakhsaz

Good post. I was discussing this with Afshin on Sunday actually. The Seinfeld cars were particularly interesting to me as a Porsche guy. I felt that running them all at once one after another diminished the cache of his ownership. Only 2 lots were super strong, and the rest of them were flat below their low estimate and needed some help to get up to where price+commission brought them over the low estimate. The IROC was the only big standout, and the bus did ok too. Overall there are good deals to be had now, especially for cars that are… Read more »

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

Good deals ? Seriously ? What plain Jane Alfa’s reaching towards $100k … irrelevant and meaningless FIATs approaching $60k and above … Audi Sport Quattros being touted a $450k cars … fun little joy bugs selling for over $60k .. VW micro buses of any vintage rapidly ascending to new financial heights .. and you think there’s anything even vaguely resembling a ‘ Good Deal ‘ Methinks perhaps you need to reassess the meaning of the phrase ‘ good deal ‘ .. cause your present definition is just a bit out of touch with reality Mr Kakhsaz . This aint… Read more »

Bryan Dickerson
Bryan Dickerson

Of course the outlook for those of us without deep pockets ain’t so upbeat and rosy as everything remotely interesting to drive gets priced further and further out of reach. At least we can look at really great pictures of unobtainium on Petrolicious!

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

In one simple paragraph you’ve outlined the very essence of an impending burst of the current classic cars and M/C’s bubble .. whether you intended to …. or not … I’ll assume you did

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

In one simple paragraph you’ve outlined the very essence of an impending burst of the current classic cars and M/C’s bubble .. whether you intended to …. or not … I’ll assume you did

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

In one simple paragraph you’ve outlined the very essence of an impending burst of the current classic cars and M/C’s bubble .. whether you intended to …. or not … I’ll assume you did

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

In one simple paragraph you’ve outlined the very essence of an impending burst of the current classic cars and M/C’s bubble .. whether you intended to …. or not … I’ll assume you did