RM Sotheby's 2017 Amelia Island Sale, In-Depth
Business as usual, with just a few surprises
It seems bidders at RM Sotheby's 2017 Amelia Island sale were undaunted by the weather and rescheduled concours, as the sale netted a record $70.9 million for the auction house. There was a stellar 90% sell-through rate, with 19 cars reaching the million dollar mark. Here are a few takeaways from the sale:
Modern 911s Take Home Top Dollar
Much like the eye-watering figures exchanged in Scottsdale for modern supercars, don't assume the turbulent Porsche market is restricted to the old, rarified metal. Water-cooled 911s brought some serious cash at Amelia Island, particularly those from the 997.2 generation. The already legendary 2011 Porsche 911 GT2 RS sold for an impressive $434,500, while the contemporary 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS 4.0 crossed the block at $577,500.
These are stripped-out, hunkered down track weapons, but even the more relaxed street-focued special editions lightened wallets. A very handsome — and very rare — 2011 Porsche 911 Speedster went for $363,000 while a newer, 991.1-generation 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Rennsport Reunion Edition was sold for $214,500.
Scratching your head at these prices? These are likely a symptom of market speculation driven entirely by vintage Porsche prices. Essentially, you can see these cars as futures, where their limited production runs, go-fast hardware, and Porsche provenance ensures big-money payouts in the future. Be careful, however, as Porsche appears to not give a damn about maintaining these outrageous prices. Case in point: The impending crash of Porsche 911 R prices following the unveiling of the new GT3, offering everything (and more) the 911 R has.
Pre-War Still Has Pulling Power
"It seems it's often hard for people to get excited for cars made before the day they were born." I've heard this adage a few times, but it seems no one else was listening. Sure, price tags usually begin to decline when you move below the 1960 mark, but pre-war heroes made a strong showing at Amelia.
We'll get into how vintage Rolls and Bentleys were the show darlings a little later, but for now, let's focus on other marquees. The top sale for the entire event was an elegant 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet, which shifted to a new owner for $7,700,000. The next most costly pre-war example, a 1936 Lancia Astura Cabriolet Series III "Tipo Bocca," commanded $2,145,000.
American oldtimers were popular as well. A 1929 Stutz Model M Supercharged Coupe went home for $1,705,000 while the visually arresting, one-off 1938 Graham 97 Supercharged Cabriolet with a body by Saoutchik sold for $770,000.
As always, a smattering of Packards filled the catalogue. The strongest Packard sale was the 1933 Packard Twelve Convertible Victoria, which changed hands for $522,500.
Vintage Rolls-Royce and Bentleys Steal the Show
Pre- and post-war offerings from Rolls-Royce and Bentley have never been for the common people, but the prices commanded by Orin Smith's mighty collection of the two marquees was astounding.
For starters, a handful of pre-war Rollers went for above the half-million mark, including fabulous 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom.Henley Roadster that sold for $682,200. This tan drop-top paired perfectly with the similarly-colored 1934 Rolls Phantom II Continental Drophead Sedanca Coupe that went for $632,500. Even the Brass Era was in attendance, represented by a 1914 Rolls Silver Ghost Tourer that changed hands for $726,000. The capstone, however, was the indomitable 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Special Newmarket Permanent Sedan, sold at $1,237,500, while our favorite had to be the wonderfully oddball 1959 Rolls Silver Cloud I Estate, sold for $583,000.
Bentely refused to play the little brother role at this sale. Early models like the custom 1931 Bentley "Blue Train" Special from Bob Petersen Engineering ($440,000) set the pace, while mid-century Bentleys stole the show. A pair of Continental S1s were auctioned off, one Fixed Head Coupe ($561,000) and one Drophead ($1,683,000). We'd be remiss if we didn't also mention the wonderous 1952 Bentley R-Type Continental Fastback Sports Saloon that sold for an incredible $1,347,000.
Ferrari Continues to Surprise (or Maybe Not)
Gone are the days of finding a dusty, neglected 250-series Ferrari in a barn. Everyone knows of their seven (or eight)-figure potential, so rarely are there any deals to be had.
Strangely, the two Ferraris predicted to take home high seven-figures failed to sell, leaving the $1.8 million 1964 Ferrari 275 GTB at the top of the vintage heap.
Yet, the Ferrari market proved it still has some volatility up its sleeve. A 1995 Ferrari F50 formerly owned by Mike Tyson blew by the pre-sale reserve to sell for an incredible $2,640,000, setting what we believe to be a new record for the model. As discussed before, the F50 has often suffered at the hands of collectors, closely following the prices of the older and much more common F40. Now, it might be the underappreciated F50's time to shine.
The manual-transmission-only Ferrari 550 might still be affordable, but you'd better hurry - one sold at Amelia for $165,000. A safe buy if there ever was one.
Front-Engined Porsches Find Their Stride
You've been warned for years that prices of the assorted Porsche 924s, 944s, and 928s were on the rise. Now, that boat might be about to sail. RM sold a cluster of the four-cylinder coupes for very strong prices, indicating that collectors have finally turned an eye on the non-special-edition entry-level Porsches from the 1980s.
Heading the four was a wine-red 1988 Porsche 944 Turbo S that sold for $44,000, followed closely by a 1986 Porsche 944 Turbo that saw a $33,000 hammerfall. Shockingly, a clean 1987 Porsche 924 S sold for $19,800, a king's ransom for a 924 that isn't a Carrera GT.