Ah, spring. Leaves unfurl, wildflowers explode, fat, fuzzy animals emerge from hibernation, and a squadron of significant Porsches invade the palm-peppered paradise that is Amelia Island.
Yes, for Porsche folk, the return of chirping warblers and seasonal allergies signal the impending arrival of a serious Porsche party. Since around the time of Porsche market’s second boom in the mid-2010s, the cluster of auctions accompanying The Amelia (née The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance) are one of the best places to score a seriously special Porsche, particularly if your desires have a bit of a motorsports bent.
Why has this Floridian resort island become synonymous with selling Stuttgart’s finest? I’ve got a theory. As major collector car events—like The Amelia—continue to mature, a theme eventually emerges and the cars on the auction block eventually resemble those wearing ribbons on the green.
Pebble Beach, for example, brings out the biggest collectors and the oldest money, so you can expect some serious firepower in the way of prewar powder and mid-century rolling sculpture. Across the world from Monterey, the sales adjacent Rétromobile’s sprawling hall of rare and fascinating European classics is your first stop for top-shelf automotive esoterica.
The Amelia, owing in large part to the interests of founder Bill Warner, is a motorsports-focused event. As the field fills with old racehorses, the accompanying sales cycle retired racers across the block. As you’d imagine, this means there are enough Porsche cup cars and prototypes on offer to fill an entire race weekend. (It doesn’t hurt that the Brumos Porsche dealership is located in nearby Jacksonville.) And where there are Porsche race cars, there are Porsche street cars, and where there are Porsche street cars, there are Porsche collectors—and now a self-sustaining cycle emerges.
Look to 2012 as the real kick-off year for Amelia’s Porsche association. That year’s event featured Porsche legend Vic Elford as the Honorary Chairman, kicking things off by roaring onto the showfield in his old 908/3, then owned by Jerry Seinfeld. In addition to a Porsche-heavy selection of Elford’s former mounts, a salute to the Daytona 24 Hours and the 60th anniversary of 12 Hours of Sebring leeched serious P-car power from the woodwork. Of course, both RM Sothebys and Gooding & Co—the only two auction houses on-site in 2012—planned for this Porsche-palooza by upping the Porsche concentration of their catalogs.
The rest, as they say, is history. By 2016, there were 75 Porsches on offer from three houses—Gooding, RM, and Bonhams.
Not surprisingly, Amelia has become a referendum on the Porsche market. The peak year for the auctions here were in 2016, right around the height of the air-cooled craze. Gooding's selection of Porsches from Jerry Seinfeld netted $22M on their own. As 911 Turbos and the like fell back to earth over the remainder of the decade, sales totals and sell-through rates here unsurprisingly flagged.
The 2023 Amelia auctions will provide another test. Porsches of all stripes, from water-cooled 996s (OK, not mine) to fantastical Carrera GTs, have gained ground in the past few years; many will be crossing the block next week. In addition to the usual suspects, Broad Arrow Auctions is coming to Amelia for the first time with 19 Porsches in tow.
Read on below, for more info on standouts we'll be watching:
1968 Porsche 907 K: est. $4.5 million–$5.5 million
This is a bit of a homecoming, as this 907 took home class wins at the Amelia concours in 2007 and 2012. It was raced in-period by Vic Elford, winning the 1968 Targa Florio. You can read more detail about this car here.
1987 Porsche 959 Komfort: est. $1.75 million–$2 million
This is one of a handful of 959s outfitted with Canepa’s desirable “Stage One” upgrade package that boosts output from 444 hp to a healthy 600 hp. Along with California smog compliance—don’t laugh, that’s quite important—the 2.85-liter engine wears upgrade Garrett turbos, wastegates, new ECU, ignition system, upgraded fuel system, alternator, and redesigned exhaust. So, should be fun. And if you’re more show-than-go, this appears to be one of the well-presented 959s to come to market in the past six months, wearing just around 14,400 miles at the time of the sale.
1994 Porsche 911 964 Turbo S Flachbau: est. $1.15 million–$1.35 million
Amelia seems to be a magnet for rare 964s, and Broad Arrow’s 1994 Turbo S Flachbau is one of only 39 Turbo S’ fitted with the “X85” flatnose package. Even by modern standards, these are serious performers; the vaunted “X88” Turbo S package grew 25 hp over the standard Turbo 3.6 to 385 hp and 384 lb-ft with bigger turbochargers, intercooler, hotter cams, and revised intake, among other hop-ups.
1964 Porsche 356 Carrera 2: est. $500,000–$600,000
Unlike modern 911s where “Carrera” denotes a standard production 911, affixing this denominator to a 356 implied something quite special. 356 Carreras carried the vaunted and highly complex Fuhrmann four-cam flat-four aimed at racers, privateers, and other power-hungry enthusiasts, and were regular successes on the SCCA event circuit.
This stunning 1964 Carrera 2 is from the final year of 356 production, and is just one of 101 “C” series built as a Carrera. While the original engine is gone, a hotter, rarer 587/2 engine most often associated with the even rarer 356 Carrera GTs, so expect more than a few Porsche super-dorks in the bidding pool.
1979 Porsche 911 SC Alméras Frères 'Eminence' Rally Tribute: est. $300,000–$400,000
Here’s a wildcard. This 1979 Porsche 911 SC is a high-effort, motorsports-focused replica of the Alméras Brothers’ 1982 911 SC rally car they built and raced at the Monte Carlo Rallye, an effort hoping to emulate their overall victory at the 1978 Monte Carlo rally—without any help from Porsche itself. Much like the original car, this is a serious race conversion with a fully stripped and caged interior, built race engine based on the 930’s 3.3-liter case, and full competition-spec chassis.
This is likely not going to win any originality awards at a Porsche-centric concours, but with a full FIA Historic Technical Passport valid until 2028 for racing, hill climb, and rally, it’s a capable and notably painless way to enjoy vintage racing without the worry of damaging a historical artifact.