We expect this year's Amelia auctions to be the biggest ever, and here's why

by John Wiley
22 February 2023 3 min read
A higher percentage of the cars offered at the Amelia auctions this year have estimates higher than $1M.

Next week, the live auction calendar resumes with four auctions at Amelia Island, Florida. Total sales are likely to be a record, with a range of $182 million to $217 million.

If you’re a close auction watcher, that might sound rather bold. Amelia “peaked” back in 2016 at $139 million, which was when Gooding & Company sold part of Jerry Seinfeld’s collection. What makes us think this year will best it? In a word, quality.

There are four auctions this year, with Bonhams, Broad Arrow Group, Gooding & Company, and RM Sotheby's all auctioning vehicles. That's not unusual, as four auctions were held as recently as 2019. Also, the number of vehicles consigned at 456 is similar to that year's total of 452. But Amelia auctions in those days—along with many other in-person venues—were in something of a funk. Having grown quickly during the 2010s, auction companies found themselves consigning higher quantities of cars in attempt to push the numbers ever higher, but struggling to draw out the absolute finest machinery. Amelia 2020 was memorable, but hardly for the cars—it took place in the shadow of looming COVID lockdowns and was, for many of us in the collector car business, the last in-person event for more than a year. The auctions returned in 2021, two and a half months late and considerably smaller.

Gooding's 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider has the potential to be the biggest sale of the year so far, with an estimate of $18M–$20M. (Photo by Mathieu Heurtault / courtesy Gooding & Company)

Yet that reset, painful and involuntary as it was, seems to have been a beneficial one for Amelia. The sales last year were not only buoyed by a booming market but also were more focused. We saw a record set with the most valuable French car ever sold when Gooding & Company sold a 1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C-SS Teardrop Coupe for $13.4M.

A couple of cars offered this year could approach or surpass that price. Gooding has a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider with an estimate of $18M to $20M. Bonhams has a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Sports Tourer by Vanden Plas at $10M to $12M. RM Sotheby's also has a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT California LWB Spider with an estimate of $9M to $11M.

Bonhams' 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Sports Tourer has an estimate range of $10M–$12M. (Photo courtesy Bonhams)

Those vehicles reflect the growth in the number of $1M+ vehicles consigned. Their share of the auctions this year is the most ever at 12.3%, just ahead of the 11.5% share from 2016.

Another popular feature of the Amelia auctions is the selection of exceptional Porsches. Led by Broad Arrow's 1968 Porsche 907 K with an estimate of $4.5M to $5.5M, the 62 consigned are the most since 2019, when 78 were offered. Total Porsche sales are likely to be in the $20M to $24M range, which is down from last year's record of $28.8M, which saw a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder sell for $4.2M and a 1959 Porsche 718 RSK sell for $3.0M. Only the 907 K at Broad Arrow will likely sell for more than $2M this year.

Amelia has also evolved into a key venue for prewar cars. That's especially true this year, with 63 being offered, the most ever. Total sales for the segment, helped largely by Bonhams' Bugatti, are expected to be between $31M and $38M. That would blow away the previous record for the segment, from 2020, when 58 prewar cars were offered and brought a total of $15.8M.

We'll also be watching analog supercars, which are more popular this year. The auctions have three Ferrari F40s, two Jaguar XJR-15s, and one Porsche Carrera GT, as well as a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (a Hagerty 2023 Bull Market pick), a Ferrari F50, and a Pagani Zonda R. The 150% appreciation we've seen since 2020 for vehicles like the F40, F50, Carrera GT, and XJR-15 are helping the $1M+ segment grow, and we expect many of them to sell this year.

Regardless of which type of vehicle you're watching at the auctions, we hope to see you at Amelia, and please follow along with our live blog of the auctions here on Insider and on the Hagerty app.

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