I’m reflecting on the results from Amelia Island. Interestingly, there were no big cars in any of the big three auctions. The most valuable car of the weekend was RM Sotheby’s 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC by Corsica, which was bid up to $5.6 million but didn’t find a new home.
The first of the Big Three was Bonhams, its auction led by the collection of the late Don C Boulton, and anyone interested in Brass Era cars was watching intently. These cars are some of the best for the London-to-Brighton Veteran Car Run, and the collection sold well. The best of the rest was the Formula One GP-winning Brabham. The car is perfectly suited for the 2020 Monaco Historic Grand Prix, and was sold back to Europe. Overall, the results were in-line with last year, although some argued that the selection lacked modern cars. But I believe that the Boulton Collection made up for it. As for attendance, the Bonhams tent didn’t seem to have the same buzz as its competitors, which could be down to the selection of the cars; Brass Era cars aren’t necessarily ‘en vogue’.
Gooding and Company was the polar opposite to Bonhams, with a more modern selection of cars, and the atmosphere was different as well — younger cars attracting a younger audience. Like Bonhams, Gooding had its own collection to offer: the Jan Koum Collection, the founder of Whatsapp and an avid Porsche collector. All the cars were offered without reserve, which is always a true test of the market, and in general, they all sold under estimate. Most will say that this is a sign of the market, but I wonder if the estimates may have been too aggressive.
RM Sotheby’s held the final auction and increased its sales by over $10m compared to 2018. Its sale total was higher than both Gooding and Bonhams combined. Unfortunately, its star lot (the previously mentioned Bugatti) didn’t sell, but its top-selling car, the 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB, was a beautiful example. In my opinion, the bargain of the weekend was the very eligible 1949 Maserati A6 1500/3C Berlinetta by Pinin Farina, which sold for $505,500. The last time it sold at auction (in 2014), the car made $891,000.
The old saying of buying the best still stands, but the days of a Ferrari Daytona making well over estimate are probably behind us. Combined, over $75m of cars sold, which, interestingly, is almost exactly the same as in 2018, but there were more cars on offer in 2019.
Max’s top picks coming up this month
Max Girardo is the founder of classic car specialist Girardo & Co. Before that he spent 20 years in the classic car auction world, where he was the managing director and head auctioneer at RM Sotheby’s
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