The Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance is held each March, on Florida's Atlantic Coast, and some of the worlds biggest auction houses seize the opportunity to sell some truly special cars.
While it may pale when compared to the Arizona's huge car auction week, or the fantastic auctions held in August that lead up to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, the Amelia Island auctions are still, impressive.
Hagerty Insurance values the 365 cars being auctioned at a whopping total of $121 million. Last years auctions had 333 cars, and $140 million, so while its down on last years, its still not pocket change. RM Sothebys made the most money, at $71.8 million and an average sale price of $524,234 per car; RM also have seven cars on our list of the top 10 sellers (which actually numbers 11, since RM sold two cars for $1,705,000). Gooding came in at second place, in both total sales and per-car average: $30.8 million and $440,267. Bonhams sold $10.0 million worth of cars, which includes one that made the list that follows, whilst lesser known auction houses Motostalgia and Hollywood Wheels brought in $4.5 million and $4.2 million, respectively, with each moving a single seven-figure car.
10. (tie). 1966 Aston Martin DB5 SWB Vantage Volante – $1,705,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
the Short Chassis Volante convertible was a run of 37 cars that used the leftover DB5 chassis. Although they had the shorter wheelbase of the DB5, they also included features and styling elements from the newer DB6 (which had already begun production). Aston’s 4.0-liter DOHC inline-six out out 282 horsepower and was combined with a five-speed manual transmission. Notably, this model introduced the term “Volante,” which has been used for Aston Martin convertibles ever since.
10. (tie) 1929 Stutz Model M Coupe – $1,705,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
In 1928, Indiana-based Stutz Motor Company made its return international motor racing after a decade-long absence, entering Le Mans with a stock Model M, and impressively taking second place in the race, a major accomplishment for an American car. A SOHC inline-eight powered the Model M to an average speed of 106.5 mph, but with the British manufacturer Bentley debuting bigger engines, Stutz knew, it needed more if it wanted to to keep up. Instead of building a bigger engine, which would have taken up too much time and resources, Stutz developed a supercharger that pumped it up to a claimed 185 horsepower. The enhanced M coupes fell short of the new Bentleys at Le Mans, but it was a unique moment in American racing history.
According to RM Sotheby’s, only three supercharged Stutz models are still in existence. This one was treated to bodywork from London’s Lancefield Coachworks. It won Best in Class in 2000, and was awarded the Briggs Cunningham Trophy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Since then, it has been restored and improved with some modern parts. With its super-rare factory supercharged engine, Le Mans racing origins, and unique coachwork, it’s considered, perhaps, the ultimate Stutz.
9. 1989 Mazda 767B – $1,750,000 (Gooding & Company)
This Mazda 767B is one of three produced, and it raced at Le Mans in 1989 and 1990. Powered by a demonic sounding four-rotor Wankel engine that made a healthy 630 horsepower, it finished 12th and 20th overall. While the 767B wouldn’t be the triumph for Mazda that the later Le Mans winning 787B would be, the 767B was an important milestone all the same.
Besides being a piece of racing history, this 767B also is eligible for a number of classic racing events. Furthermore, the new owner can rest assured, knowing that he or she paid $50,000 less than Gooding & Company’s estimated sale price.
8. 1964 Ferrari 275GTB – $1,842,500 (RM Sotheby’s)
The revered 275GTB is divided into two series: the original, short-nose cars, and the later version, in which the body was extended which resulted in improved aerodynamics. Despite the obvious advantage of the changed styling, collectors (typically) prefer the rarer short-nose cars, for their design.
This first-year 275GTB is a short-nose version, one of around 250 built. Sold new in the United States, it’s equipped with triple Weber carburetors, Borrani wire wheels, and a Blaupunkt AM/FM radio. Restored most recently in 2013, the car is painted in its original red over black livery and is Ferrari Classiche certified. More impressively, the current seller drove this glorious automobile in the 1000-mile West Virginia Mountain Mille.
7. 1936 Lancia Astura Series III Cabriolet – $2,145,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
The top-of-the-line prewar Lancia, the Astura had separate chassis and body construction, with Pininfarina providing the coachwork for this magnificent drop top. The streamlined design features a flat-folding windshield, rear fender spats, and chrome strakes. A 3.0-liter narrow-angle V-8 provides power, while a hydraulic power top must made its fair share of jaws hit the floor in 1936.
6. 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa – $2,227,500 (Bonhams)
Atypically, this 250 Europa is one of only three Ferraris on this list of top sellers. More predictably, it’s the only "Fezza" here that is not painted red. But this 250 Europa—the model that cemented Ferrari’s iconic relationship with the legendary design house of Battista “Pinin” Farina—impresses, for reasons besides its two-tone blue livery. This car’s original owner intended to enter it in the 1955 Mille Miglia, but Ferrari didn’t complete the car on time. Because it was intended for competition, this car was factory fitted with a widened track front and rear, upgraded brakes from the 375MM Spider racing car, a competition-tuned 3.0-liter V-12 good for about 240 horsepower, a magnesium transmission case, and aluminum bodywork.
Beginning in 1999, this car has taken part in at least six 1000-mile vintage races, including the Mille Miglia Storica, the Colorado Grand, and the California Mille.
5. 1956 Maserati A6G/54 Series III Coupe – $2,365,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
RM Sotheby’s reports that only 65 ACG/54s were built, and of those, only 22 feature the beautiful Italian coachwork of Pietro Frua. This was one of two coupe bodies built on the Series III chassis and the only one known to survive. This model also is the last to be developed under the Maserati brothers (who had already sold their company to Adolfo Orsi, but were still working under contract).
During its life, this car has seen its original twin-cam engine replaced with an American V-8 (blasphemy!) and then the powertrain from a Maserati 3500GT. Fortunately, it has been given a full restoration since those times and once again has the proper inline-six engine and four-speed manual gearbox. It also picked up a Best in Class award at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance during the Maserati centennial year of 2014.
4. 2015 McLaren P1 Coupe – $2,392,500 (Gooding & Company)
It takes something truly special to keep company with timeless classics at the world’s biggest auctions just a couple of years after it was released. A technological tour-de-force, the P1 is just such a machine. The team from Woking conjured up 903 horsepower from a hybrid combo, of a V-8 and an electric motor and, in doing so, ushered in a new era of supercars and performance, and created the first of the Holy Hypercar Trinity. The P1 is one of only 375 examples.
This particular auction is an interesting story. According to Gooding & Company, the consignor has pledged the proceeds of this sale to go to his old school, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. With the money, the school and the consignor are establishing the Alfred R. Schmidt Chair for Excellence in Teaching.
Further separating this P1 from the already tiny pack is its customization, which includes the special Professor 2 Blue paint job, specially molded seats that draw from the Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona, and a unique passenger-side vanity mirror with the message, “You look beautiful,” for the owner’s wife. The car was also signed by former McLaren CEO Ron Dennis and McLaren design director Frank Stephenson. A special version of a special car brought a special price at a special auction, at this year’s Amelia Island sale.
3. 1995 Ferrari F50 – $2,640,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
The F50 may live in the shadow of its brothers, the elder F40 and the younger Enzo, but laying beneath the wild styling beats a Formula 1–derived naturally aspirated V-12 engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission.
This F50 is the 73rd of 349 built and one of 50 U.S.-spec cars. It’s claimed to be in “immaculate” condition after covering just 5694 miles, and it benefits from Ferrari Classiche certification. Original ownership by boxing champ “Iron Mike” Tyson appears to have further bolstered the final hammer price, which exceeded the high estimate by $240,000.
2. 1998 Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion Coupe – $5,665,000 (Gooding & Company)
Designed to break the McLaren F1’s stronghold on the BPR Global GT series GT1 class, the GT1 Strassenversion is essentially a slightly detuned version of the competition Porsche that snagged a one-two finish at the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans. Proud of its racing achievement, Porsche made it clear to prospective customers that very little separated the two: “It’s basically the same car. Minor changes apply to the interior, engine and suspension tuning, and fuel tank.”
Utilizing the same carbon-fiber tub construction and twin-turbocharged flat-six engine—slightly detuned from competition duty—the street car made a reported 544 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque. It was presold to Porsche VIP customers, and the automaker apparently lost money on each car, despite the $900,000 price. The model was limited to a production run of 20 units, numbered 04 through 23; this example is chassis number 05. Factory records indicate this car was equipped with air conditioning, black leather, and special “comfort” seat cushions.
The owner had the car EPA certified but rarely drove it, choosing to keep it in his climate-controlled storage facility between showings. In 2012 the car returned to Germany; it came back to the U.S. in 2015. Recentlyhaving had a major service at DeMan Motorsport, this exotic 911 has covered only 4909 miles.
1. 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet – $7,700,000 (RM Sotheby’s)
Based on the Bugatti Type 57, the race-focused Type 57S debuted at the 1936 Paris auto show. Sitting on a lowered chassis with a wheelbase almost a foot shorter than that of the standard Type 57, the Type 57S made the most of its more manageable dimensions, with a specially tuned 3.3-liter straight-eight engine that made 170 horsepower, due to a higher 8.5:1 compression ratio. A dry-sump lubrication system helped keep the Type 57S’s engine’s center of gravity low.
Forty-two Type 57S cars were produced, with nearly half sold as rolling chassis and subsequently fitted with bodies by custom coachbuilders. Chassis 57513 is just such a car. One of four Type 57S cabriolets produced by French coachbuilder Vanvooren (only three of which survive today), chassis 57513 retains its original engine, gearbox, and body. Despite its originality, though, this car has seen some minor modifications over its nearly eight decades. In the mid-1950s, a set of Koni shocks were fitted to the car, and its standard mechanical brakes were swapped out in favor of a hydraulic setup. Originally black and gray, the car was repainted in its current yellow-and-black color scheme in 1962. Additionally, the car’s original louvered side grilles were replaced with mesh units, and higher-mounted headlights were added. Despite these modifications, chassis 57513 was never formally restored, although in 2016 the clutch was rebuilt and the original four-speed manual transmission was refitted to the engine.
An unrestored and exceptionally rare version of the renowned Type 57S, unsurprisingly this Bugatti, by quite the margin, was the most expensive car to go under the hammer at any of Amelia Islands five classic-car auctions this year.