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HomeThe MarketAuction action off to slow start at Amelia

Auction action off to slow start at Amelia

But things expected to accelerate today as Gooding & Company gets going

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(Editor’s note: As it did during Arizona Auction Week, Hagerty is providing daily coverage of the collector car auctions taking place during The Amelia concours d’elegance this weekend in Florida. Here is the report on auction action Thursday, March 3.)

Main themes:

• The first of the three 2022 Amelia Island auctions, from Bonhams, underwhelmed with $14.9 million in total sales—28 percent lower than in 2021 despite having 28 percent more lots. However, sell-through rate jumped from 83 percent in 2021 to 93 percent.

• The drop in sales seems mostly reflective of the condition of the cars. The sort of exceptional examples that have been drawing big prices both at in-person auctions and online were relatively few and far between tonight.

• The Bonhams sale opened with a collection of 51 motorcycles. As we’ve seen elsewhere, British bikes sat idle. Rare models saw less of a premium than usual.

  • Gooding & Company’s Friday auction is the one for Porsche fans: high-spec examples and historic race cars pack the consignment list.

Highlights:

• Bonhams’ 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder sold for $4,185,000 — near its Hagerty Price Guide condition-appropriate value.

• The earliest surviving Ford Model T (serial number 2, from 1908) sold for $246,400.

• The one-off 1954 Jaguar XK 120 SE Fixed-Head Coupe by Pinin Farina sold for $940,000.

Bonhams’ one-day sale kicked off the Amelia auctions week with something of a whimper rather than a bang: the $14.9M in sales fell below Hagerty’s prediction of $23.2M and was down more than a quarter from last year. Despite all that, this was hardly a “bad” sale  — more than 90 percent of the cars sold and most brought logical prices. But given how illogical bidding seemed at times at Scottsdale barely a month ago, it came as a bit of a surprise.

The natural temptation would be to blame events on the front pages of every newspaper. Yet at least at the moment, we suspect the tepid results have more to do with the particulars of this sale. 

First and foremost, Bonhams had fewer excellent-condition vehicles than in years past. Only 10 percent of lots were given a condition #2 (excellent) rating or better by Hagerty staff, compared to 33 percent in 2020 (the last year Hagerty conditioned vehicles in person at Amelia). Generally speaking, many of the “excessive” prices paid at recent auctions — both in person and online — have been for exceptional cars.

That’s not to say there weren’t spectacular cars and strong prices at the Bonhams sale. The headline car of the day was a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder that brought $4.185M. Following a few million behind was a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Victoria at $1.066M and a one-off Pinin Farina-bodied 1954 Jaguar XK120 SE Coupe at $940,000.

The results also may reflect changes in the auction world. The big January auctions in Scottsdale and in Kissimmee, Florida, stand out for their sense of spectacle and offer an array of cars that appeal to bidders of all budgets. Amelia is the first higher-end, catalog-only event of the year, known for being more relaxed and conservative. That may translate to less exuberant bidding. In 2020, 6.2 percent of vehicles at the Bonhams Amelia auction sold above their condition #1 (concours, or best-in-the-world) value. This year, none did. In contrast, just a few weeks ago when Bonhams was in Scottsdale, 23 percent of the vehicles sold above #1 value.

Before all the cars, Bonhams opened with a large collection of motorcycles. Seeing a 50-bike collection show up at catalog car auction is a rare sight, and the results showed the crowd was not exactly head over heels for two-wheels, especially compared to the massive results from the Mecum Las Vegas motorcycle auction two months ago. The average difference between the Hagerty Motorcycle Price Guide #3 value and sale price at Bonhams’ auction was only 3 percent.

Friday’s Gooding & Company auction should provide a more clearcut test of bidder sentiment. Of the 99 vehicles offered, one third of them are from Porsche, a marque that Amelia is known for. The star car of the week – the 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe – will also cross the block at Gooding. It is also the only car expected to break eight figures this week.

Amelia Auctions

Results through March 3

Listed below are the raw results Hagerty Valuation Team members witnessed during live auctions. They may not factor in post-sale deals that have occurred. These numbers include the appropriate buyer’s premiums.

Cumulative total: $14.9M

124/134 lots sold: 93 percent sell-through rate

Average sale price: $119,982

2021 cumulative total through Thursday: $20.7M

87/105 lots sold: 83 percent sell-through rate 

Average sale price: $237,761

Results by auction company

BONHAMS

Top-10 sales:

  1. 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder Roadster sold for $4,185,000 
  2. 1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy sold for $1,066,500

3. 1954 Jaguar XK 120 SE by Pinin Farina sold for $940,000 

4. 1937 Riley Sprite Sports sold for $491,750

5. 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost sold for $489,000

6. 1933 Bentley 3-Litre Speed Sports Tourer sold for $428,500

7. 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Saloon sold for $335,000

8. 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Tourer sold for $335,000

9. 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet sold for $324,000 

10. 1968 Lamborghini 400 GT Coupe sold for $318,500

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