Wind in their sales

Fewer cars shifted at Amelia Island this year, but some big numbers were still achieved

Bad weather didn’t catch out purchasers over the major auction weekend at Florida’s Amelia Island Concours, even though a grim forecast of heavy rain for Sunday caused much of the action to shift forward a day or two. But fewer cars went across the block compared to the previous year and the weekend total was down on predictions.

Amelia has gained a reputation as the place to offer Porsches; the Stuttgart marque featured heavily, and not just the flagship 1970s racers: Gooding and Co achieved $1.76m for a 1993 964 Turbo S, with RM Sotheby’s pulling in a record $1.65m for a 911 Carrera RS 3.8 of the same vintage – more than the $1.59m Goodings obtained for a 962 with race history.

This is the same ballpark as a 2015 McLaren P1 fetched at Bonhams, indicating that low-mileage examples of more recent road supercars are pulling in a premium.

However, Ferrari remained the flavour of the month at RM Sotheby’s, where a 1966 torque-tube 275 GTB with the desirable long nose and triple-carb set-up made $2.2m. Among the 11 964 Porsches the firm fielded from one collection, a ’93 3.8 RSR with less than 800km on the clock hit $1.27m. Just five years old, a Black Series Mercedes AMG SLS pushed up to $434,000, confirming the supercar surge.

A two-way battle over an unusually original 1931 Marmon 16 resulted in a big jump over the expected price – it went for more than $1m, remarkable for a car that – despite its attractive LeBaron body and a 16-cylinder engine that made it quicker than a Duesenberg – is not usually seen in the same league as the more famous marque. A Duesenberg J cabriolet ordered by William Randolph Hearst in 1930 made slightly less, while the boat-tailed 1930 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8S cabriolet ‘Grey Goddess’ (with wing-shaped sidepods) was nearer forecast at $1.27m.

The phrase ‘barn find’ has a romantic air, but that was the story behind Gooding & Co’s 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB and a Shelby 427 Cobra, both parked and left since 1991. Hard to imagine. The Maranello beauty made the low end of estimate at $2,53m, with the Cobra just breaking into the million-dollar bracket. In contrast, a 1967 Ford MkIV might have been expected to garner more than $1.92m, but this was a spare chassis without race history, built up later in the UK. Nevertheless, a mighty piece of kit. So was the 1974 Porsche RSR Turbo that finished second at Le Mans. It was expected to be a prime sale at up to $8m, but though bidding surged up to $5.4m that wasn’t enough to buy it. A 1956 Ferrari 410 Superamerica also stuck on the block: at $3.9m the best bid didn’t meet the seller’s hopes of $5m, although an Enzo with 1600 miles on it, the only modern Ferrari to go up at Amelia, reached $2.36m.

At Motostalgia a rare example of cross-Atlantic co-operation – a 1967 Iso Rivolta, perhaps not one of Giugiario’s finest, but powered by a torquey Corvette 327 V8 – achieved $66,500, while if you required more technical sophistication a Mercedes SLR McLaren went down for $260,000.

Back in the UK, Race Retro activity centred on Silverstone Auctions’ two sales for classics and competition cars in late February. Top item here was a Robb Gravett/Mike Smith 1990 BTCC title-winning Cosworth RS500 on £182,250, while a pretty Lola T210 first raced by Willi Kauhsen in 1970 and currently maintained by Martin Stretton Racing achieved £146,000 and a Ford RS200 £157,500. If you wanted to try your hand at the HRDC Academy a fully prepared A35 went for £19,690, and the Special Saloon Suzuki built and raced by Ben Bowlby in the 1980s hit £5630. Or, for track-day fun, a Palmer Jaguar JP1 packing a 3-litre Cosworth V6 sold for £32,630.

Among the classics, a lurid green BMW CSL 3.0 made £106,875 and the first UK right-hand-drive Lamborghini Jalpa, with its gorgeous-sounding transverse V8, just under £50,000.

In March we had Historics at Brooklands’ Ascot sale, where one lucky purchaser landed a bunch of mid-engined fun by buying a 2002 Renault Clio Sport V6. For anyone who wanted to try circuit glamping, an Airsteam caravan with minimalist interior redesign hit £43,000 and the perfect tow car, a primrose yellow two-door Range-Rover, made £14,560. Much nicer to look at than later spoilered versions was a 1972 De Tomaso Pantera in its simple original shape – sold for £63,840.

Among the automobilia someone recognised the historical significance of Harry Munday’s work on ERA and BRM, because two lots of his notes and drawings exceeded estimates at more than £700. Murray Jamieson’s material about developing the racing Austin 7 went even higher at £868 while one of Jacques Villeneuve’s helmets from his BAR time ran to £992 – better value than a replica Lewis Hamilton lid at £620.

Despite some unpredictability setting in after a few surprising no-sales, the auction circus appears confident it can maintain its footing – especially with many new buyers from Russia and the Far East showing interest.