Bonhams Amelia Island Auction 2019 – Preview N° 1

Courage. This is the only word that comes to mind to explain Bonhams’ offer to Amelia Island.

In a world hungry for Ferrari and Porsche, the most British of the three auction houses will offer but 4 Ferraris, 12 Porsches, but as many as 36 Pre-WWI cars. For comparison, RM, with about 30% more cars, will offer 14 Ferraris, while Gooding, with less cars than Bonhams, will offer 32 Stuttgart vehicles.

Another very interesting aspect to consider is that of cars without reserve price. There will be 70 of them this year, and they represent more than 65%, meaning that Bonhams is confident about having already sold two thirds of their cars, no matter the price. However, there is something that should reassure the aficionados, and that is the average of the minimum estimates, which at $105,586 is a nice leap forward compared to 2018’s $68,113.

Inspecting the Lots.

The first interesting lot is number 226, a 1929 Packard Custom Eight 640 Touring. The peculiarity of this vehicle is that it was delivered to its first owner on the 14th of October 1929, also known as Black Thursday. The buyer, a wood businessman, used the car less and less as his business started going downhill, until he finally locked it in a garage. Now, after decades in “hibernation”, it sees sunlight again. Completely original and preserved, always in the hands of the same family, it’s ready to take its share of awards in the Preservation Class of half the world’s contests. It is estimated at $50-70,000.

Lot 214 is a good example of loyalty to the family: the RUF Turbo R from 1998 was bought, new, by Dr Ferdinand Oliver Porsche. Apparently, the 450 bhp of the regular 993 Turbo S were not enough and, after modifying turbo, exhausts, cylinder head, camshafts and flywheel, the car now boasts 520 bhp. Finished with an elegant (and rare) Oak Green Metallic with black interior, it is truly a “punch in a velvet glove”. Its estimate of $650-850,000 highlights its value. Keep an eye on it.

An interesting case to evaluate the market: The Shelby Cobra 289 chassis CSX2328 from 1964 (lot 238) is a wonderful example: it was purchased in August 2017 by the current owner for $1,089,000 (Bonhams at Carmel, lot 24). It seemed like a good purchase, as it was estimated at $1,05-1,25 millions. A year after, always at Bonhams in Carmel in August 2018 (lot 31), the offers for the same car stopped at $950,000. This time the company experts have correctly revised the estimate to $900-1,100,000. Keep an eye on it.

With a third of the vehicles built before 1914, lot 261 is an attractive one: the Mercer Type 35J Raceabout from 1913. It is the most valuable piece from the Don C. Boulton collection. 106 years ago, this vehicle could reach the magical threshold of 100 miles per hour. If we consider that at the time planes only approached 90 mph, and trains only reached 60 mph, we can agree with the catalogue quote that “this was not only one of the fastest automobiles in the world, but the fastest way to travel, period”. The market for these vehicles is rarefied, but the estimate of $800-1,000,000 has its solid base.

Dual-purpose is an almost magical expression for auction experts. It means that the car can be used in two different ways (for example, a car that once raced, and is now suitable to the street as well). The Lancia Aurelia B20GT pre-series coupé from 1951 is one of these cars, as it is one of the extremely rare B20GT, framed not by Pininfarina but by Viotti/Ghia. Lot number 67 is ready to take part in the best rallies (Mille Miglia, Copperstate 1000, etc), but considering its rarity, also in elegant contests. For this purpose, it should be brought back to its original colour: Beige, with Hazel interior. Estimate: $175-225,000, lot number 271.

2019 Auction Data

Data in brackets (…) 2018:

Offered cars: 107 (101)
Overall minimum estimates: $20,681,000 ($19,515,000)
Average minimum estimate per car: $193,280 ($193,218)
Cars offered without reserve price: 70 (53)
Percentage of cars offered without reserve price: 65.42% (52.48%)
Average minimum estimate without reserve price: $105,586 ($68,113)
Average year of production: 1947 (1964)

Cars with minimum estimate under $100,000: 44 (48)
Cars with minimum estimate between $100,000 and $250,000: 43 (36)
Between $250,000 and $500,000: 11 (9)
Between $500,000 and $1,000,000: 7 (5)
Over 1 million dollars: 2 (3)

Cars made up to 1899: 2
Cars made 1900-1909: 20
Cars made 1910-1919: 14
Cars made 1920-1929: 5
Cars made 1930-1939: 6
Cars made 1940-1949: 1
Cars made 1950-1959: 9
Cars made 1960-1969: 19
Cars made 1970-1979: 10
Cars made 1980-1989: 10
Cars made 1990-1999: 7
Cars made 2000-2009: 4
Cars made 2010-2019: 0

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