Analysis: Amelia Island auctions show collector car market is strong when expectations are realistic

Analysis: Amelia Island auctions show collector car market is strong when expectations are realistic

I heard from a lot of people about the weak classic car market after the Arizona auctions.

The 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder at Bonhamst sold for a strong $880,000 | Bonhams

The 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder at Bonhams sold for a strong $880,000 | Bonhams

I heard from a lot of people about the weak classic car market after the Arizona auctions. I contended that the market is not weak but has just slowed down a bit.

If the sales at Amelia Island last week told us anything, it is that great cars are still selling for very strong money. Sure, we are not seeing the huge monthly increases that we have seen over the past few years, but the market, in my opinion, is still very strong indeed.

Let’s start with the first sale of the week, Bonhams. Yes, there were some legitimate deals at the Bonhams Amelia Island sale, most notably the 1967 Porsche 911S which sold for $126,500 and the 1973 Maserati Bora, a stunning car that sold for $187,000. Both were solid buys at the selling price.

A good deal for the buyer on the 1967 Porsche 911S at Bonhams | Bonhams

A good deal for the buyer on the 1967 Porsche 911S at Bonhams | Bonhams

That being said there were a number of cars that sold for very strong money, most notably the 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle cabriolet that went for $52,800 and the 1960 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder that sold for $880,000, both very strong money for each and likely a record for a VW Super Beetle.

Yes, Bonhams had a number of no sales, but the majority of these cars were examples that should have sold for the high bid. This was best illustrated by the 1978 Ferrari 308 GTB that should have had a new owner at the high bid of $82,500. Remember, a car like this 18 months ago would have been lucky to sell for $50,000, let along the 82k high bid.

There were quite a few cars in this category at Bonhams. It seemed as if their owners had unrealistic expectations of what the current market is willing to pay, especially for good but not great examples.

Next let’s move on to Gooding & Company. I heard all day Saturday about what a great deal the fiberglass-bodied 1976 Ferrari 308 GTB Vetroresina, (vetroresina means fiberglass), was at a sale price of $236,500. But let me remind you that early fiberglass-bodied 308 cars are still climbing and not every one of these is going to sell for north of $300k. They will at some point but to me this was a car bought for a market price.

The 1972 Iso Grifo was bought at Gooding for a good price | Gooding

The 1972 Iso Grifo was bought at Gooding for a good price | Gooding

There were a few good deals at Gooding. The biggest standout was the 1972 Iso Grifo which sold for $396,000. This was a Ford-engine car with the Pagoda-style hood, and it was well bought at a good price.

Many commented that, for the most part, the Jerry Seinfeld Porsches only reached their low-price estimates, and seemed disappointed at that. At the end of the day, all of these cars sold for strong market prices even if the estimates were set a bit aggressively.

None of these were deals of any kind and the no sales at Gooding were, for the most part, examples of estimates and reserves that were just set too high.
That being said, the final sale price of the nice driver-level 1961 Ferrari 250 California Spider of $17,160,000 and the Seinfeld 1960 VW Beetle sedan selling for $121,000 had to make the sellers and David Gooding quite happy.

Next, on to RM Sotheby’s. This sale was as always the star of the weekend, and while it did not have the high-sale car, it did have a tremendous sell-through rate with strong prices, especially when you look at the pre-sale estimates.

Of all the sales, I feel that RM had the fewest deals out here, a good thing for the sellers but buyers had to pay what these cars were worth in order to put them in their garages.

The 1964 Peel sold at RM Sotheby's for a staggering $176,000 | RM Sotheby's

The 1964 Peel sold at RM Sotheby’s for a staggering $176,000 | RM Sotheby’s

Standout cars from RM were the 1969 Maserati Ghibli, a stunning green car that sold for a very strong $319,000, the tiny 1964 Peel that for some crazy reason sold for a staggering $176,000, and the 1954 Bentley Continental R Fastback, which sold for $1,815,000.

Many cars exceeded their estimates at RM Sotheby’s, I am sure making the auction house and sellers happy. The pre-sale estimates were realistic and buyers took notice.

Some additional thought on this market:

Ferrari 2+2 cars are now valued a bit less than they were, with cars in this category seemingly worth between $225,000 and $300,000 as opposed to last year’s numbers of $350,000-$450,000.

Ferrari 328 cars are hot and seem to be worth north of $150,000, and more modern special Ferrari cars are still achieving very strong numbers.

Porsche Turbo cars are still strong but are not $400,000 cars, at least not yet. But start paying attention to the Porsche 993 market, especially the 993 Turbo and Turbo S, as well as highly optioned Carrera 4 cars.

The weakest segment in the market still seems to be 1950s American cars. Prices and interest are well down.

Overall, this is a strong and healthy collector car market. Prices are not still skyrocketing, but thatis a good thing as it makes for greater stability and should mean that a market crash is not in our future any time soon.andysig

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