The auctions at Amelia Island were very interesting to watch, with entry-level cars still seemingly on the rise and with the modern classic market still pretty hot, though showing some signs that it is leveling a little.
The most interesting trend of all appears to be taking place in the middle of the market, which seems to be down, with many cars in the $75,000 to $250,000 price range dropping a bit, and more so for those in the $100,000 to $150,000 range.
The reason, it seems, is that prices in that middle part of the market simply grew too fast and buyers are coming to their senses. The feeding frenzy is over — well, at least for the time being.
But let’s start with the entry-level market. Prime examples of this segment were the four Porsche “transaxle” cars offered by RM Sotheby’s.
I was planning on bidding on the 1987 924S but very quickly the bidding reached double the car’s current market value, and sold for an astonishing $26,400. A 1988 944 Anniversary edition sold for the same price while 1986 944 Turbo went for $33,000 and a 1988 944 Turbo S for $46,200.
And it was not just entry-level Porsche cars that sold for strong money. RM Sotheby’s also had a 1967 MGB in nice driver condition that sold for crazy money at $38,500.
The trend was similar at Gooding & Company, with a 1991 BMW M3 convertible selling for $88,000 and a 1957 Toyota Land Cruiser for a strong but, I honestly feel market-correct $66,000.
Bonhams also contributed to this same trend; a nice driver-level 1969 Austin Healey Sprite sold for a strong $19,800, a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL for $46,200, a 1965 Buick Riviera Grand Sport for $45,100, and even a mint-condition 1989 Mazda Miata for a very strong $16,500.
Meanwhile, the middle-range market seems to be suffering some, and especially the European cars in that segment.
RM Sotheby’s had a few examples, most notably an 1972 Alfa Romeo Montreal that sold for a low $72,600 and the 1992 Porsche 911 America Roadster that was a great buy at $74,800.
More of the same at Gooding and Bonhams: At Gooding, a 1951 Lincoln Mk II sold for a low $68,750, a nice 1950 VW Beetle changed hands for only $44,000 and a 1979 Porsche 911E sold for a low $97,900. At Bonhams, a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Speciale went for only $84,700, a 1964 Jaguar E-type FHC for only $85,800 and a 1988 Ferrari Testarossa for $80,300.
On the other hand, we’re seeing big numbers at the modern part of the market, which has become the sweet spot for big prices. Some standouts at the Amelia auctions included: at RM Sotheby’s, a 2003 Aston Martin DB7 Zagato coupe for a strong $357,500 and a 2011 Porsche 911 GT3 RS that sold for $557,500; at Gooding, a 2015 McLaren P1 at $2,392,500 and the 2011 Porsche 997 GT2 RS at $561,000; at Bonhams, a 2011 Porsche 911 Speedster at $247,500 and a 1994 Porsche 911 Turbo for $187,000.
So what does this all mean? Buy the nicest Porsche 944 you can find for a reasonable price. Unless you have more money than sense, instead of buying an ultra-low mileage modern supercar, consider one that has, say, 30,000 miles on its odometer, that’s a car you can drive and enjoy without the risk of lowering its value every time you take it out of the garage.
Buy cars to use, not to speculate.
Oh, and if you have an MGB to sell, give RM Sotheby’s a call. It seems to know the secret for getting top dollar.