Events

We're live-commenting from two May auctions—and we want to hear from you

by Andrew Newton
13 May 2021 1 min read
Duesenberg
1929 Duesenberg Model J 'Disappearing Top' Torpedo by Murphy. RM Sotheby's is offering it at Amelia Island with a $3.5M–$4M estimate. Photo by Ryan Merrill/RM Sotheby's

And we’re back. After a year in which the classic car market has moved mostly through computer screens—we all know why—we’re about to witness two major in-person classic car auctions in the same week.

Mecum’s annual “Spring Classic” in Indianapolis starts Friday the 14th and continues through the following Saturday. Typically we see 1000 vehicles cross the block here. It is joined this year by one of the calendar’s biggest events, Amelia Island, which moved from its usual March dates to May this year. Amelia will include a Bonhams auction on May 20th and an RM Sotheby’s auction on May 22nd, before the concours on the 23rd.

The auctions will be a heat check for a sizzling collector car market and will specifically test two segments that tend to rely more than others on in-person sales—muscle cars (Mecum) and prewar (Amelia). (We looked at some of the star cars earlier this week.)

Most of all, though, these gatherings are exciting because so many enthusiasts who have been at home are finally able to attend them again. We will have (vaccinated) boots on the ground in both locations. We’re ecstatic to be going, not just to be able to catch up with old friends and see some world class cars, but also to gauge the market in realtime.

We will be posting live updates in the comments section of this article—what’s selling as well as the scuttlebutt you can only get in-person. We’re also eager to hear your questions and thoughts about the auctions and about the collector car market in general as things slowly return to normal.

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Comments

  • Julie Gu says:

    Looking forward to being at Amelia Island this week and sharing the overheard shouts and murmurs!

  • Andrew Newton says:

    Heard today that Mecum has already sold a few cars (both online and to in-person bidders) paid for with cryptocurrency.

  • David Zenlea says:

    We reported on the potential impact of cryptocurrencies on the collector car market earlier this year. At that point, most auction houses were unwilling to go on record. The fact that, mere weeks later, we’re hearing about it being used at major auction tells you how quickly things are moving in this realm.

  • Andrew Newton says:

    Other than face-masks and the giant pump bottles of hand sanitizer, Mecum Indy looks/smells/feels like the first “normal” auction I’ve been to in 14 months.

  • David Zenlea says:

    I’ll be curious if the folks on the ground in Amelia observe the same thing when things kick off there in earnest later this week. The 2020 iteration of that concours was, for so many of us, the dividing line between pre- and post-COVID life, as we reported at the time.

  • Rick Carey says:

    Amelia is a great relief, and everyone I’ve talked with makes the same observation: This is where COVID took over last year and it’s fitting that Amelia is where a semblance of “normal” resumes.
    Even Bill Warner said in response to a routine “How are you?” greeting, “I’m here,” and that seems to sum up how most of us feel.
    There are well over 200 cars between the Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s auctions. Few of them are what Don Williams would dismiss as “walk-bys” and many are wonderful, even unique examples.
    I arrived Monday afternoon and spent two days at Bonhams before heading to RM this (Wednesday) afternoon at RM Sotheby’s.
    It’s so good to be able actually to look at the cars again.
    Bonhams has a world-class consignment of old crocks which at the end of the day tomorrow will give insight into that often-dismissed market segment.

  • Dave Kinney says:

    Very excited to be back here at Amelia!
    The Bonhams sale line-up for today looks fantastic – a something for everyone sale is about to happen. From pre- motoring age Buggys and coaches, right up to cars from 2017. Prediction – there are a LOT of Rolls-Royce and Bentley coach-built cars on offer, and a few are going to be unbelievable bargains! Off to the auction for me…

  • Andrew Newton says:

    Definitely big anticipation for Parnelli Jones’s Big Oly Bronco, which seems to be the talk of the town in Indy. Not just because of its history, but because there aren’t really any other recent sales to compare it to. So we’re all left to speculate just how high it will go.

  • David Zenlea says:

    Two of our editors are live on Facebook right now from Amelia.

    https://fb.watch/5Chm3aTJT4/

  • Dave Kinney says:

    Bonhams sale is happening now, overall very strong prices. Full tent. Lots of bidders.
    Good to see!

  • Jeff Peek says:

    Here’s some trivia about the 1905 Queen (Lot #211) that’s crossing the block at Bonhams in a bit: It represents the only American-built marque that begins with the letter Q. Stump your friends with that one.

  • Jeff Peek says:

    It drew quite a crowd earlier today, mostly because people had never heard of it – and there were a lot of senior citizens in the group of folks that I spoke to, so they’ve seen a lot of cars through the years.

  • Dave Kinney says:

    Bonhams had a solid, strong sale, to use baseball analogy – lots of solid hits with a few home runs.
    Excellent attendance throughout the afternoon- a long day, but worthwhile.
    Just saying in print what lots of people expressed to me today – “its great to be back, live and in person and surrounded with friends!”

  • Andrew Newton says:

    Decent crowd and strong prices in Indy today. Worth noting that Mecum is still selling a significant amount of cars (something like 20-30 percent) to online bidders.

  • David Zenlea says:

    Several key sales are happening in Indy today, including the Big Oly Bronco and a ’71 Hemi Cuda convertible that Mecum estimates at $5,750,000 – $6,500,000.

  • Dave Kinney says:

    Final comment on Bonhams sale held yesterday- lots of cars went to end users- but there are plenty that you will see again, as they are heading into dealers stock, some after a “shaping” for retail end users.
    On to the RM sale preview at the Ritz Carlton!

  • David Zenlea says:

    And, yes, @Andrew Newton, it is interesting to see how much of these in-person sales are now relying on internet bidding. In 2020 we noted that so-called “hybrid” sales that combine some kind of live element with web bidding had a higher sell-through rate than in-person or online-only sales.

  • Colin Comer says:

    A 1982 Jeep J10 Honcho pickup with a 258 CID six cylinder just sold for $100k hammer against a $35-45,000 estimate at Mecum Indy. Impressive!

  • David Zenlea says:

    Big Oly sold for $1.87M. That’s a new record. Here’s our story on that.

  • Dave Kinney says:

    Looking forward to an excellent sale day here in Amelia Island for RM. Lots of buzz surrounding a number of cars- but none more so then Lot 207, a 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL!

  • Dave Kinney says:

    It’s 3:00 pm East, and the RM sale continues apace. Only five no-sales so far, 87 cars in (by my count) only about 12 cars to go.
    Looks like most sales are within pre-sale estimate range, bargains are few and far between. Another solid sale at Amelia Island!

  • Dave Kinney says:

    It’s 3:00 pm East, and the RM sale continues apace.

  • Chris Theodore says:

    Attended both Indy and Amelia auctions. I’d have to say market overall is very strong – more over than under.

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