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The 2015 Amelia Island Auctions in Florida

Including a 1981 BMW M1 Sold at $605,000.

BonhamsphotographerRM AuctionsphotographerGooding & CompanyphotographerDave Kinneywriter

Amelia Island, Florida
March 12-14, 2015

Feature Car: 1981 BMW M1
Sold at $605,000

S/N WBS59910004301336
White over black leather and gray fabric interior. 277-hp, DOHC, 3.5-liter inline-six; five-speed manual transmission. One of 453 built, this M1 has less than 7,600 miles. Great presentation cosmetically. The paint shows some age. The interior is excellent, though some light wear is visible. This example is from the final year of BMW M1 production.

The Story Behind The Sale

There are now four auctions held at the same time as the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, a mark of the event's growth from a specialty concours focused on classic racing cars into a weekend full of activities for all kinds of classic cars. The three biggest auctions are Bonhams, Gooding, and RM Sotheby's.

The BMW M1 similarly began as a specialty car that has since achieved larger significance. Designed as one of the first high-performance mid-engine cars from a large-scale carmaker, the M1 derived its style from BMW design director Paul Bracq's 1972 BMW E25 Turbo concept car. Lamborghini was hired to produce the car, but ultimately Giorgetto Giugiaro's Italdesign built the tubular frame and fiberglass body and Bauer assembled the car in Germany. The M1 debuted at the 1978 Paris Auto Show to much fanfare.

Some 399 road cars were built, but slow sales led BMW to also build 54 racing versions that promoted the car in short races held before Formula 1 races in 1980 and 1981. This has been a six-cylinder supercar in a 12-cylinder supercar world, and until fairly recently buyers had a choice of M1s for less than half this price. Today, the car is valued for its refined driving dynamics (so different from Ferraris and Lambos of the same era) and its collectibility as BMW's only mid-engine car until the new BMW i8 (not counting the McLaren F1). This M1, featured at Bonhams, represents a record price at auction.

1976 Ford Bronco
Sold at $55,000

S/N U15GLA58968
Blue with white top over white vinyl interior. 138-hp, OHV, 4.9-liter V-8; three-speed manual transmission. Recently restored to a high standard; some light modifications include a 3.5-inch suspension lift. The transmission has a conversion for a floor-mounted shift lever. The paint is better than new; the chrome is very good. The interior is both restored and tidy.

Lots of money was spent on this car, which hit the auction block at Gooding. We can assume the seller left happy, as this Bronco brought $10,000 more than the high estimate. Early SUVs have been hot, and lots of them have come to market recently. It is often cheaper to restore such a vehicle than a car. Be warned that the first-generation Bronco of this era, which features a short-wheelbase frame derived from the Ford F-100 pickup, is not for those expecting a soft ride and lots of creature comforts.

1965 Maserati Sebring Series 1
Sold at $319,000

S/N AM101-02045
Red over black leather interior. 235-hp, DOHC, 3.5-liter inline-six; five-speed manual transmission. Just 348 were made between 1962 and 1969. This Maserati, which was originally gray with red leather, was restored in 1989 and said to have been cosmetically freshened in 2005. Good paint and chrome; all trim, glass, and gaskets appear to be in good shape. Not fresh but still nice.

Named after the racetrack in Florida where Maserati won the 12-hour endurance event in 1957, this GT car has a ZF-built five-speed manual transmission. Auctioned by Gooding, this example has been certified for authenticity by Maserati Classiche. When you open the hood, you will see 12 plugs and 12 plug wires. But don't be confused: It's the classic, 1950s-style Maserati inline-six with two spark plugs per cylinder. The high price is in line with the market.

1968 Intermeccanica Italia Spyder
Sold at $181,500

S/N 50049
Deep blue over tan leather interior. 250-hp, OHV, 4.9-liter V-8; four-speed manual transmission. Documented restoration tallies $200,000. Great paint and chrome. Excellent fit and finish, both interior and exterior.

Thanks to stunning styling created by Automobile's Robert Cumberford, the Italia has looked like a more expensive car since the first day it hit the streets as the Griffith GT in 1966. As a small carmaker in Italy, Intermeccanica endured turbulent times in the 1960s under American ownership, yet it managed to create a string of memorable cars. It survives today in British Columbia, where it builds very nice fiberglass replicas of the Porsche 356. This Italia with its Ford V-8 was fully priced at RM Sotheby's, but it is the best example of a very rare car, which is usually a good investment.

1994 Ferrari 348
Sold at $60,500

S/N ZFFRG43A0R0097343
Rosso Corsa over beige leather interior. 300-hp, DOHC, 3.4-liter V-8; five-speed manual transmission. Less than 28,000 miles since new; U.S. delivery example (air emissions compliant). Many receipts from service, including a major one in 2013. Bright paint, very good trim, and a clean interior. Good top; the red tonneau cover is a nice touch.

Long overlooked because of its overheated Pininfarina-styled bodywork and a reputation for both tricky handling and demanding maintenance, the Ferrari 348 is finally getting some respect. This price on the auction block at Bonhams would have been the top of the market for a car with fewer miles just a year ago. A Ferrari with a V-8 from this era was once looked down upon by the V-12 crowd, but now it doesn't have to sit at the kiddie table when Ferraris gather.

2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Sold at $191,400

S/N WDDAJ76F45M000157
Crystal Laurite Silver over black leather interior. 617-hp, supercharged, 5.4-liter V-8; five-speed automatic transmission. 7,400 miles from new. As seen at Bonhams, this car is tough to fault cosmetically.

When McLaren and Mercedes-Benz got together to build a car, some people thought things would work out about as well as mixing chocolate and peanut butter. Indeed the car proved tasty, but the partners hated the combination and each other. McLaren wanted a racing-style mid-engine car; Mercedes-AMG wanted a street-style front-engine car. Over seven years, a little more than 1,000 SLRs were built for the U.S., while 526 were made for other markets. Many models were built, including a convertible. Like the Mercedes 300SL or McLaren F1, the SLR seemed a failure when new yet will be sought after for years.

1976 Alpine A110 1300
Sold at $88,000

S/N A110-17163
Blue over black vinyl and cloth interior. 81-hp, OHV, 1.3-liter inline-four; four-speed manual transmission. Very good paint and chrome. As seen at Gooding, this recent import from Europe was mechanically reconditioned before it came to the U.S.

One of the better rally cars you've never heard of, the Alpine A110 won the very first FIA World Rally Championship in 1973. Giovanni Michelotti designed the fiberglass body of the A110, built by Alpine in Dieppe, France. The Renault-powered A110 was successful for several years with its rear-engined layout, but the Ferrari-powered, mid-engined Lancia Stratos was the way forward. A growing network of Alpine enthusiasts has made A110 ownership more practical. This price was fair for a good-looking car in the right color.

1970 Nissan Fairlady Z 432
Sold at $253,000

S/N PS30-00092
Silver over black vinyl interior, right-hand drive. 160-hp, DOHC, 2.0-liter inline-six; five-speed manual transmission. One of about 420 examples made exclusively for the Japanese market. A one-owner car with very good paint and good chrome. The interior has been well looked after.

The Z 432 is the holy grail for collectors of Japanese cars. You might think of it as a celebration to acknowledge the recent passing at age 105 of Yutaka Katayama, the Nissan exec who created the Z-car concept. Yes, the Z 432 looks just like a Datsun 240Z, but think of it as a factory-built hot rod and it's easier to understand. This 2.0-liter engine comes from a special Skyline GT-R of the era, and it delivers big power from a 24-valve cylinder head and three Mikuni carburetors. Sold for well over its presale estimate at RM Sotheby's, the "how come so much?" question is answered in two words: Find another.

1967 Sunbeam Tiger Mk IA
Sold at $137,500

S/N B382002093 LRX FE
Dark blue with dark blue softtop over black leather interior. 164-hp, OHV, 4.3-liter V-8; four-speed manual transmission. Very good to excellent paint and brightwork on this example seen at RM Sotheby's. All the trim as well as the door, trunk, and hood gaps are at least as good as new, possibly better. Excellent interior; great seats and dash.

The Shelby-designed, Ford-powered Sunbeam Tiger has long been called the poor man's Cobra, but as prices of collectible versions of the car reach this level, perhaps a different description is needed. Just a decade ago, dusty, derelict Tigers littered suburban streets in L.A., yet now enthusiasts haunt garage sales in hopes of finding an undiscovered car. Based on the Sunbeam Alpine Series V, the Tiger Mk IA is the most common of the three versions of the car sold from 1964 to 1967. The market value of this car is going higher.