Auction Report

Amelia Island: more sellers, more demand, and high-dollar cars

by John Wiley
23 February 2022 2 min read

Amelia Island has become something of a bellwether for collector car auctions during COVID. 2020’s event wrapped up only days before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. After that, Amelia 2021 saw people cautiously come together in person to witness a low car count but higher average sales, hinting at the influx of buyer interest and higher values we’d see later that year. What does Amelia 2022 have in store?

It doesn’t take a data scientist to understand that we’re in a particularly heated market that is bound to produce some jaw-dropping sales at Amelia. Lest we become a broken record when we talk about record breaking, however, let’s take a closer look at the numbers and why they’re important. Each element helps put a finer point on auction trends and can also paint a broader picture of market activity.

Sellers are coming out of the woodwork

We've written plenty about the current unprecedented demand for collector cars. The flip side of that, at least at the in-person auctions, has been limited supply. Even the blow-out Scottsdale sales moved fewer cars than we were used to seeing pre-pandemic. Amelia signals that might be changing—having seen the market demand, sellers are coming out of the woodwork. 2022's events will see 321 vehicles cross the block, up 70 from 2021's pandemic-constricted proceedings.

While that remains less than 2017's high of 547 lots, 2022's count may more accurately reflect the demand at in-person auctions. The downward car count trend for Amelia's 2017-2020 events indicates a supply correction from heated prior years. Further, 2021's COVID-influenced dip to 251 cars was still in a period of relative uncertainty in the market. It may be too soon to tell, but 2022's slight uptick may suggest that the auction market supply has found its level—it may also be the beginning of another upward march toward oversupply.

Demand and quality are driving higher sales prices

Average sales prices are projected to rise this year in large part due to the overall health of the market as well as an influx of high-dollar offerings, including a 1937 Talbot-Lago and a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. Amelia's 2022 average sales price projection of $484,049 exceeds 2015's high of $425,673. What's more, from the 2020 auctions that took place moments before the pandemic was official to now, Amelia's average sales price is projected to have increased over $230,000. Despite the fact that supply has increased this year, demand is even greater.

High-dollar cars increasing at in-person events

The share of projected $1M+ sales this year at Amelia is 11%, nearly double last year's number. Aside from the hot market yielding aggressive estimates across a strong cohort of cars this year, another factor has come into play. Amelia 2022's events include three catalog auctions but no volume auctions. The absence of auctions that cater more directly to the sub-$200,000 collectible buyer has created a concentration of high-dollar vehicles at Amelia. We'll see if other in-person auctions evolve this data point into a trend as 2022 unfolds.

Broken record: another projected high

Despite having 147 fewer cars than in record-sale-year 2016, the data influencing our 2022 sales projection point to the potential for a new high of over $149M. Demand for quality cars has been acutely focused at in-person auctions of late, and we expect that to be the case at Amelia. Like results from recent prior auctions in Scottsdale, this points to a continued hot market that has no signs of slowing.


  • jane don says:

    I think the Increase in sellers & buyer has more to do with Greed rather than a love for cars- With all these programs about Flipping houses & Cars on TV–Everyone thinks they are going to get rich Quick -Plus of course–Folks are inheriting & liquidating –

    • Gayle H Michener says:

      Totally agree with you!

    • Peter says:

      jane don got it right…those of us in the “love for cars” group keep & maintain them to drive ’em!…If we have to sell & return a profit, it’s icing on the cake.

    • Stephen Williams says:

      Most of these cars were just a special for the era. They were not great cars at the time and age doesn’t improve them

    • roger h says:

      l tend to agree with you. There are somewhere around 300,000 or so Model A’s in the United States. How come they seldom come up at these auctions? Are real nice stock examples not valued high enough for the hype the auctions generate? l think they are mainly sold privately to folks who love them!!
      So we see endless Camaros, Chevelles, Mustangs, Challengers, Barracudas and Corvettes (and low-mileage Vipers that apparently aren’t being driven either) cross the auction house stages. The kids, or their Dads, as you mentioned, want to see how much they can get for these collectibles because they don’t used them and they modify them to make them attractive to the guys that want a trophy car to go with the trophy girlfriend. A few folks do know what they want and can appreciate a car that is put together right and are lucky enough to have the money to indulge themselves to buy those. But l don’t think there are THAT many people in that last “knowledgeable”-and-rich category to support all the auctions we see!
      So where are the thousands of sales of Model A’s, Model T’s, MGB’s, Miatas, early pre-V8 ’50s Chevies, Dodges, Plymouths and Fords, most of the independents, stock cars from the 20’s and ’30’s and old “quirky” European makes being sold? Through make/model dedicated car clubs and old car newsletters/ad papers where lots of folks who love old cars find cars that have been loved.

  • Jim Liberty says:

    The Russian situation will have some effect on the market. Maybe positive, maybe not. If the stock market takes a hit, some of that money will go to hard assets. Cars. ………..Jim.

  • Maestro1 says:

    John, Hagerty’s concentration on the high dollar part of the market suggests that it is either looking for that level of client or for some other marketing reason.
    I have been in the Hobby a very long time. I never buy cars at an Auction. I have always thought that the top bidder at an Auction is the only person in the room who thought the car was worth that much money. I have sold some of my cars mostly at a decent profit, which is not the reason I owned them. Because of the international situation, the epidemic, I am sitting still and paying the bills, bored with all the media hysteria.
    So I’m in a Hold position, by doing so getting some decent annual appreciation on most of them and currently
    playing around with a finicky 65 Plymouth which is not cooperating.
    All Hagertys please stay well.

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