The market for blue-chip cars continues to be strong — but the definition of blue chip may be shifting
By Jim Pickering
Managing Editor, Linkage magazine
It’s safe to say that any year can be considered a transitional year, at least when talking about the collector car market. You can track any segment you want, from blue-chip Ferraris to classic American pickups, and while trends do tend to carry across time, the only thing you can count on is change.
As tastes in classic and collector cars evolve, so do use patterns and values.
But these transitions can sometimes really stand out, and when it comes to this year’s Amelia Island auctions, which took place back in early March, the shifts were stark.
The biggest shift came from Gooding & Company, which set aside its long-running Scottsdale-based auction in January in favor of an expanded Amelia Island event in March.
For Gooding & Co, the move paid off with a record-setting (and week-leading) $72.6M in total sales, up from last year’s $66.5M. The company also featured the most expensive car of the week — and in all Amelia Island history — the covered-headlight Azzuro Metallizzato 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider, sold at $18,045,000. What was once two auctions’ worth of focused high-level consignment work for Gooding was all focused on Amelia, and that meant higher average prices when the final numbers came in.
As such, that Ferrari wasn’t the only show-stopper at Gooding. The company also moved a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS for a world-record $967,500, a mostly original 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 for $3,525,000, and a U.S-spec F40 for $3,085,000 — all notable numbers on traditional-style auction feature cars.
Porsches have been an Amelia Island cornerstone for this company for years, and the Gooding team had a good selection of modern examples on offer as part of this expanded event, including a collection of RUF cars that was headlined by a 1998 RUF Turbo R at $1,550,000. Additionally, a 1997 RUF BTR2 broke the world auction record at $720,000, and a 1998 RUF Turbo R Cabriolet made $1,022,500. For Gooding, Amelia was more of everything — which was a good sign for both the traditions of the market and its growth into new sectors.
Beyond Gooding, the auction scene itself shifted this year as well. The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance became “The Amelia” in 2021, and Broad Arrow Auctions was named as the official auction of the newly rebranded event. That auction joined Gooding & Company and Bonhams in the area and displaced longtime concours auction partner RM Sotheby’s from its traditional space at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island.
Broad Arrow’s first Amelia auction saw just under $31M in sales. The company set four new world auction records at the Ritz, including the top sale of the event: a 2015 McLaren P1 at $2,425,000 all in.
Modern cars were the headline here, reflecting a younger demographic that events such as The Amelia are aiming to bring into the fold. Among these cars were a 1997 Acura Integra Type R that sold for $151,200 (a new record for the model), along with a 1987 Mercedes-Benz AMG “Hammer” Sedan at $775K and a 1991 AMG 6.0 Hammer Widebody at $885K.
But while Broad Arrow may have had RM Sotheby’s old (and prime) auction location, they didn’t outdo RM Sotheby’s in scope or total. At a new location and advertising itself as the final RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island auction, RM Sotheby’s sold $70M worth of collector cars, representing some serious growth over the $46.1M achieved in Amelia last year. From car quality to on-site presentation, including a huge air- conditioned tent that looked and felt like a world-class car museum, RM Sotheby’s was on a mission — with a point to prove.
Again, a modern car took high sale honors: At RM Sotheby’s, it was a 2010 Pagani Zonda R “Revolucion Specification” at $5,340,000. Indeed, just behind it was a 1995 Ferrari F50 in like-new condition at $5,065,000 — but RM Sotheby’s built a reputation over 24 years of selling great Full Classics here at Amelia, and those still sold well, led by a 1931 Duesenberg Model J “Disappearing Top” convertible coupe by Murphy at $4,295,000. On top of that, a 1930 Packard 754 Deluxe Eight Convertible Victoria by Waterhouse set a new record for the model at $637,500. So, while there’s obviously a contemporary focus on newer collectibles in the market, the traditional staples are still in demand, especially when their condition and histories align in a grand presentation.
Bonhams’ Amelia auction at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club saw just under $13M in overall sales this year, headlined by a 1966 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series II that sold for $1,930,000 — double its pre-sale estimate. But again, newer cars were a fresh staple here alongside traditional lots, including a 1992 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R Group A racer that sold for $379K. In addition to the Ferrari, Bonhams also offered the Thomas Hendricks “Lost Jaguars” Collection, which included a 1959 Lister-Jaguar Sports Racer and a 1951 Jaguar XK120 LT3 Works Lightweight, both of which sold for $775K each.
It’s by no means groundbreaking to say that the market is trending younger these days — but what was interesting from the results in Amelia was the rate at which the demographics are changing, even at the higher levels of the car world. The traditional excellence of Full Classics and blue-chip sports cars still draw the same — or more — attention as they ever have. But there’s a new group of cars and buyers here, too, and they’re no longer waiting in the wings.
This article is provided by Linkage magazine for publication on Chubb.com The opinions and positions expressed in this article are the authors’ own and not necessarily those of Chubb.
Want to read more content like this? See Linkage magazine.
Linkage is more than just a printed car magazine. It’s a look inside the car world in new and fresh ways — from stories about great roads to in-depth interviews with industry experts and luminaries. Linkage is where experiences, opinions, and values converge to both highlight and elevate the collector car world you know, as well as the collector car world you don’t know.
Speak to an independent agent about your insurance needs.