2021 Amelia Island Auction Wrap Up

Prewar Cars Roar to the Top in Two Major Sales

The excitement around the 2021 Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance and its two auctions by Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s was like bottled lightning uncorked. The Amelia was about the last major classic automobile event held last year before COVID restrictions. After that, top auction houses scrambled to put online auction platforms into place. Now, those online sales have joined a growing, permanent roster of buying options. Read on for a full Amelia Island auction wrap up.

Yet, just as there is no substitute for hearing music played live compared to even the world’s best audio setup, nothing can replace the tension, suspense and thrill of becoming or just witnessing the high bidder in person. This year’s two sales at The Amelia did not disappoint. Bonhams achieved a 90-percent sell-through rate, and RM Sotheby’s reached 95 percent for a $42m sale.

“We’d missed the atmosphere and fun of the live saleroom over the past 14 months, but the results of this auction were truly worth the wait,” said Rupert Banner, Bonhams Group Motoring Director. “Our bidders were clearly pleased to be back in the saleroom with lots of spirited bidding from the floor, which were well-matched by much activity online and on the telephones.”

Silver 1929 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo, front right
1929 Model J ‘Disappearing Top’ Torpedo was RM Sotheby’s top sale at Amelia Island auction for $5.725m. (Source: RM Sotheby’s)

Prewar Cars Win The Weekend

Of course, there were high-dollar Ferraris. Yet, the top sales at both auctions were pre-WWII automobiles. The unequivocal star of the RM Sotheby’s event was the 1929 Duesenberg Model J “Disappearing Roof” Torpedo Convertible Coupe with coachwork by Murphy. One of just two made, this Duesy roared past its  $4m estimate to sell for $5.725m. RM Sotheby’s had one other prewar car in its top-10, a 1935 Mercedes 500K Roadster that brought $1.6m.

For Bonhams, the top sale was an absolutely stunning 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Speziale Roadster factory upgrade that brought $4.9m, which was just a bit below the top of its $5m estimate. Remarkably, the top seven sales at Bonhams were prewar, including three that were pre-WWI.

Yellow 1913 Mercer Type 35K Runabout - Front View
Yellow The 1913 Mercer Type 35K Runabout with original bodywork sold for $2.425m – doubling its pre-sale estimate. (Source: Bonhams)

The number two slot for Bonhams went to the sole surviving 1913 Mercer Type 35K Runabout with its original bodywork, which sold for $2.425m – doubling its pre-sale estimate. In current lingo, this New Jersey-built touring car was the street version of Mercer’s road-and-track Raceabout model. Third place at Bonhams was a 1933 Duesenberg Model J “Sweep Panel” Dual-Cowl Phaeton for $1.665m — $400k above its estimate. The Mercer was part of the Clem and Mary Lange Collection, which had a 100-percent sell-through.

The high sale for a 21st-century sports car went to a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder that brought $1.182m at RM Sotheby’s. At the same sale, a 2012 Lexus LFA with under 500 miles from new, sold for $700k, crushing its $500k pre-sale estimate.

1995 Red Ferrari F50, front
1995 Ferrari F50 brought $3,772,500 at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction. (Source: RM Sotheby’s)

And Now, the Ferraris

While pre-war American iron kept Ferraris our of the top positions in these sales, Maranello was well represented at RM Sotheby’s. Its number two sale was a 1995 F50 that brought $3,772,500. This was the 48th of 349 made and one of just 55 sent to the U.S.

Were you at the 1972 New York Auto Show? If so, you might remember the yellow (Giallo Fly in Ferrari-speak) 1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider on display. One of 121 official Spiders built, it was Classiche Certified with under 13,500 miles from new. It sold here for $2,452,500 – about 100 times its original price. The 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 that brought $2.81m at this sale had been in the same family since 1973.

Yellow 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4, front
1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 was third highest sale at RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction for $2.81m. (Source: RM Sotheby’s)

Amelia Island Auction Wrap Up:

Bonhams Top 10

  1. Lot 160: 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K (factory upgrade) Speziale Roadster — $4,900,000
  2. Lot 142: 1913 Mercer Type 35K Runabout — $2,425,000
  3. Lot 143: 1933 Duesenberg Model J “Sweep Panel” Dual-Cowl Phaeton — $1,665,000
  4. Lot 144: 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet — $1,325,000
  5. Lot 139: 1912 Stutz Bearcat — $643,000
  6. Lot 134 1908 Simplex 50hp “Speedcar” — $610,000
  7. Lot 145: 1935 Auburn 851 Supercharged Speedster — $456,000
  8. Lot 120: 2019 Porsche 911 Speedster — $412,000
  9. Lot 129: 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition — $387,250
  10. Lot 173: 1959 Aston Martin DB4 Series I — $346,000

RM Sotheby’s Top 10

  1. Lot 156: 1929 Duesenberg Model J ‘Disappearing Top’ Torpedo — $5,725,000
  2. Lot 181: 1995 Ferrari F50 — $3,772,500
  3. Lot 136: 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 — $2,810,000
  4. Lot 176: 1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider — $2,452,500
  5. Lot 151: 1992 Ferrari F40 — $2,040,000
  6. Lot 185: 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Roadster — $1,600,000
  7. Lot 186: 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II — $1,490,000
  8. Lot 191: 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder — $1,182,000
  9. Lot 171: 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra — $967,500
  10. Lot 163: 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster — $923,500
Red 1912 Stutz Bear Cat, front top view
1912 Stutz Bear Cat, said to be oldest Stutz in existence, sold for $643k. (Source: Bonhams)

Premier Financial Services Cars to Watch

For each major auction, the Premier Financial Services staff selects “Cars to Watch.” For the Amelia Island auctions, all but one sold. See how they did in our Amelia Island Auction Wrap Up:

Bonhams Cars to Watch

Lot 118: 1971 De Tomaso Pantera “pushbutton” model, one of the first 75 examples hand-built by Carrozzeria Vignale: did not sell

Lot 130: 1966 Porsche 911 in Gulf Blue over red leather: sold for $114,800

Lot 134: 1908 Simplex 50hp “Speedcar,” believed to be the oldest surviving Simplex: sold for $610,000

Lot 139: 1912 Stutz Bearcat, believed the earliest known Stutz automobile in existence: sold for $643,000

Lot 144: 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet, bodied by Franay and delivered new to German movie star Hella Hartwich: sold for $1,325,000

Lot 177: 1976 Aston Martin V8, upgraded with supercharger: sold for $100,800

RM Sotheby’s Cars to Watch

Lot 117: 2002 BMW Z8, inspired by the 507 of the late 1950s: sold for $196,000

Lot 121: 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series coupe, one of a reported 349 examples produced for the U.S. market out of 500 built: sold for $145,600

Lot 132: 1965 Porsche 356C 1600SC, the final expression of Porsche’s foundational 356 series as the 911 was coming into the market: sold for $123,200 

Lot 134: 1964 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider with bodywork by Carrozzeria Touring, sold for $246,400

Lot 151: 1992 Ferrari F40, Classiche-certified: sold for $2,040,000

Lot 188: 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition, one of 343 of these stunning, Gulf-liveried examples were produced, and with just 2.7 miles: sold for $566,000

Jim Koscs
Written by Jim Koscs, Audamotive Communications
May 25, 2021