We thought Amelia’s auctions this year would be big, and they were. Final numbers are still being tallied and, assuredly, auction companies are feverishly working to close a few post-block sales. It’s already clear, though, that 2023 will be the biggest year ever for the Amelia Island auctions, with $178M in sales besting 2016’s record of $140M.
Yes, another record
The very word “record” has become almost mundane in the classic car market over the past few years—auctions in Monterey last summer and more recently in Scottsdale also hit new highs. Yet the tally at The Amelia is notable for a few reasons.
First and foremost, it asserts that demand for top-quality automobiles is still strong. The market has cooled since the Pebble Beach auctions—the Hagerty Market Rating has slid for several months straight. Also, there was a new auction company and more than 100 additional cars here compared to 2022, creating potential for oversupply. That didn’t happen. Sell-through rate was down slightly, from 91.6 percent to 87 percent (as of Sunday), but the average price ticked up to $455,293 from $435,939.
The key factor was the quality of the consignments. We knew going in that there were more top-tier cars than in years past—some 12 percent of the vehicles carried an estimate of $1M or higher. Having inspected vehicles in person, we can say that the condition of the field backs that up. The Hagerty Insider team evaluated 49.6 percent of the lots as either #1 (“concours ready”) or #2 (“excellent”) condition. This is the highest share since 2020, when 55.8 percent of lots were conditioned “excellent” or better.
The combination of better, more expensive cars and lower sell-through rate indicates that sellers were willing to test the waters but aren’t feeling pressure to sell. Similarly, buyers bid strongly for some cars, but weren’t in a rush to buy everything that crossed the block. In other words, it seemed characteristic of a healthy, rational market, as opposed to the overheated one we saw at certain points in 2021 and ’22.
Change afoot in the Ferrari world
The top sale of the week—and all year so far—was Gooding & Company’s 1962 250 GT SWB California Spider that brought $18M. The price beats the Hagerty Price Guide’s condition #1 value, even factoring the premium collectors typically pay for side vents.
But Amelia also reminded us the Ferrari market isn’t just about 12-cylinder cars. Of the four Dinos offered, all sold, and two (a 206 and 246 GTS) set records. We included the 246 Dino in our 2022 Bull Market list, yet their gains in recent years surprised even us—their value in the Hagerty Price Guide rose 50 percent in 2022.
Life isn’t as grand for Daytonas. There were five here (four 365 GTB/4s and one GTS/4) and all but one sold, but they were, on average, 3 percent below condition-appropriate price guide value. One of them sold for 22 percent less than its sale at auction in 2015. This largely confirms what we saw last month in Paris, where Daytonas also underperformed. Make no mistake, these are absolutely lovely cars, but it seems they’re still feeling a hangover from the sharp appreciation of the 2010s.
Top prices for top cars
The knowledgeable bidders at Amelia seemed willing to pay a premium this year for the best of the best. Several expertly-restored- and special cars sold for record prices, including models that rarely make headlines. A 2002 Esprit 25th Anniversary sold for $193,200 against a $125k–$150k estimate, becoming the highest Esprit sale ever excluding the Bond Submarine. It also became the first non-Bond Esprit to sell for more than a Bond-related one, besting the $165,467 2008 sale of another movie car. Similarly, a 1959 Volkswagen Karmann-Ghia smashed the previous record of $106,400 and sold for $123,200, satisfying a new owner with what’s potentially one of the best Karmann Ghias in the world.
Live auctions remain the place for world records, even for cars that typically receive more attention at online auctions. Prior to today, 49 of the 50 highest sales for an Acura Integra Type-R were sold online. However, a 6k-mile 1997 Acura Integra Type-R sold for a record $151,200 at Broad Arrow, beating the previous record, set in 2022 on Bring a Trailer, by 29 percent. Another example of an internet darling car, a 1992 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R Group A racecar, set a record for R32s at $379,000.
The AMG Hammer record, previously held by a 1988 Mercedes-Benz AMG Hammer Coupe that sold on MBMarket.com for $766,300, was broken twice today. First, A 1987 Mercedes-Benz AMG Hammer Sedan sold for $775,000—24 percent above Broad Arrow's high estimate and setting a record for both a W124 and AMG “Hammers.” Then, just 20 lots later, those records were broken by a 1991 AMG 6.0 Hammer Widebody Coupe, which sold for $885,000.
Porsches playing second fiddle?
Amelia Island has long been synonymous with Porsches, and this year was no exception, with more than 60 on offer. Yet only one Porsche sale, a 1987 959 Komfort at $1,710,000, cracked the top 25 sales. The 1968 Porsche 907 K at Broad Arrow, with its $4,500,000 low estimate, was the only Porsche that had a chance of breaking into the top 10. It failed to sell, however. This is a departure from recent years, where Porsches have contributed to top sales, like in 2022 when a 1955 Porsche 550 took the second-highest sale at $4,185,000.
That’s not to say it was a bad year for Porsches, though. A 1994 Porsche 911 Carrera Turbo S “Flachbau” sold for $1,215,000 and a Magenta 1974 911 Carrera 2.7 Targa sold for $201,600—well above high estimate and nearly triple its Hagerty Price Guide value.
It’s possible Porsche collectors were keeping their powder dry for Porsche’s upcoming 75th anniversary event, but more likely, the lack of Porsches in the top 25 says more about the rest of the field. As we noted, there has been a significant increase in the potential value of cars offered at Amelia. More than 40 (currently 41) cars sold for at least $1 million this week, accounting for 59 percent of total sales.
Mixed bag for prewar
In addition to being a Porsche fest, Amelia has also gained a reputation for being a strong venue for prewar automobiles. Expectations were particularly high this year after a 1912 Simplex 50HP took top sale honors at the January auctions at $4.85M. But results here were mixed, reminding us again that it’s more about individual cars than broad segments. RM Sotheby’s sold a stunning 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Derby Speedster by Brewster for $885K, but that same car went for $1.98M in 2013. Five lots later, they sold a 1931 Duesenberg Model J 'Disappearing Top' Convertible Coupe by Murphy for $4.295M. That same car sold for $3.52M in 2015, a $775K gain.
A stable, strong market—at least for the best cars
Three years ago, as many of us went straight from Amelia Island into COVID lockdowns, we were worried about the future of the collector car market (among many other things). The market weathered that storm and then some. Now we face different headwinds, but the story here remains the same: People really like collector cars, and they are willing to spend top dollar to get the very best ones.
I love cars came from a young man that loved to view them but could not afford a car, to fairly ok person by working hard. I have always had a nice driving but different car. I now own quit a few beautiful cars. I am not a dealer. I assume I am a collector. Bidding is fun so now I am trying to do my homework, that is where listening to experts like Hagerty is useful. But I am a beginner. What are best methods of understanding the cars that will make a better auction car are. I have 25 cars I had 50 last year but too much effort and time to enjoy driving these cars. I think there should be a great future value in the really nice jobs people like Doug Graf did with the 200 1958 Corvettes, he built using a complete mold he made for his creations. CARBON FIBER he chose to use for entire body not a wing or dash a trim to make it look better. He did a study to find the Carbon Fiber that Bruce McLaren started using on his race cars for the CAMAM circuit. It was lighter and stronger and held its shape going through the apex and gave the drivers the ability to go into apex with more speed then hit the brakes without losing the ability more quickly control the car and come out more quickly. Doug had this Carbon Fiber for the mold of his cars. This is not a Retro Car it is a new method of building a Corvette looking car with a Modern ability to fit into and use every upgrade made to be a super and fun car to drive. What a fun car to own. His dooner cars were the best of modern Corvettes engines. Paint work on these cars is outstanding. I own Ferraris, Lamborghinis. Porsches, McLaren, and yes I have 6 of Doug’s cars. I am the real attention getter, when driving these cars. On my exotic cars I get a thumbs up. On Doug’s Carbon Fiber cars, people roll there windows down to snap pictures, I get number one spot at Valet, some even follow me into gas stations to take pictures. Have a problem take it to the Chevrolet house. O what to race SR1 split window 727 hp 224 miles per hour. It is a one and only Doug Built for Himself. I conned him out of it. It is not for sale. I got side tracked talking about auctions and get carried away when we talk about cars. Auctions are fun. It is really fun when you win that thing of beauty that you so long have desired. I did not mean to get side tracked. Guess I just wanted to TALK CARS. I appreciate the good work Hagerty does to help these flames of excitement going. Thanks.
The Green California Spider is gorgeous.