Bonhams Amelia Island 2016 – Auction Report

Bonhams, Fernandina Beach, Florida, March 10, 2016

As the days before the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance fill up with auctions, it is hard to get in the hotly contested spotlight. Bonhams eloquently made its presentation by being first (on Thursday) and bringing a quartet of important automobiles that would attract attention anywhere:

  • Bugatti Type 57SC Sports Tourer
  • Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A
  • Ferrari 275 GTB/4 (the only 275 GTB on Amelia’s auction docket this year)
  • And, just for good measure, the most creative car on any auction docket, the 1896 Armstrong gas/electric hybrid.

With that kind of lineup it’s no surprise that Bonhams more than doubled last year’s total sale even with a lower sell-through rate that last year’s inaugural Amelia Week sale and the skewed-high pre-sale estimates that were also typical of the other auctions. It’s hard not to do well when your Bugatti sets a record for the marque at $9 3/8 million all-in and accounts for over a third of the sale’s total. It was all by itself 70.5% of last year’s entire 64-car sale.

Here are the numbers:

Bonhams Amelia
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est
Sold > High Est
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
96 / 64
$126,500 [29.4%]
82 / 64
$94,600 [43.9%]

Being first in the week carries some disadvantages. Bidders’ expectations are still being set, particularly in the wake of some softness in Scottsdale, and there are toothsome cars coming up at other auctions; infecting bidders with trepidation about spending their allowance early in the week. Bonhams auctioneers also set a sloth-like pace that tests onlookers’ endurance.

But it can’t be denied that Bonhams specialists are uniformly enthusiastic and well informed, imparting a vigor to their sale that is palpable.

Bonhams kicked off the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance week in excellent fashion, setting a standard for quality consignments that established the tone for the week.

Bonhams Amelia Island 2016 – Auction Report

1964 Sabra Sports GT Coupe
Lot # 109 1964 Sabra Sports GT Coupe; S/N GT4818; Engine # S305658; Light Blue/Blue leatherette, Dark Blue cloth inserts; Estimate $80,000 – $100,000; Older restoration, 2 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $85,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $93,500 – 1701/61hp Ford Consul engine with dual SU carbs, 4-speed, centerlock wire wheels, Firestone tires, woodrim steering wheel, Smiths gauges. – Very good paint and chrome. Very good interior. Almost spotless restored engine bay and underbody. Done to like new condition. Originally owned by the wife of the Belgian Consul General to Isreal. Has to be one of the best of its kind, although with a car this rare there is not much competition. – Israel’s contribution to sports car history (although a lot of the design and construction came from Reliant in the UK), the Sabra is a rare bird with less than 400 built. Placing a value on one is therefore difficult, but almost six figures for an obscure fiberglass-bodied, 61hp Consul-powered sports car is a huge result even if it was within Bonhams’ presale estimate, and probably the most anyone’s ever paid for a Sabra.
1982 Aston Martin V8 Volante
Lot # 112 1982 Aston Martin V8 Volante; S/N SCFCV81C7CTL15260; British Racing Green/Tan leather; Beige top; Estimate $160,000 – $200,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 2- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $192,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $211,200 – Quadruple Webers, 5-speed, alloy wheels, Avon tires, tan leather boot cover, wood dash and window trim, wood shift knob and console, dash clock, power windows, air conditioning, Pioneer cassette stereo. – Somewhat dull bumper plastic. Fantastic original paint. Passenger’s side door not quite flush. Excellent recently redone upholstery and new top. Fairly dull switchgear and seat belt buckles. A 35-year old, 20,480-miles used car that looks a tenth of its actual age. – It’s a Volante and it has Webers and a 5-speed, plus it’s finished in gorgeous traditional colors. It ticks all the right boxes for Aston V8 fans, so the Amelia bidders were willing to forgive its light signs of wear and bid it to the top end of Bonhams’ presale estimate and at the very top of V8 Volante values. It is a superior car that brought a superior result.
1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider
Lot # 114 1962 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider; S/N AR370395; Engine # AR001020678; Red/Cream leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $75,000 – $100,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $48,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $52,800 – Silver steel wheels, Signet blackwall radial tires, no radio. – Freshly repainted in a hurry. The paint is still curing and outgassing. Poorly masked, abundant overspray inside the doors. Underbody sprayed assembled over old undercoat. Worn older upholstery with some cracks and abrasions. Described as three owners from new but still an auction car as presented here. – This result is nothing if not generous for this car’s condition and quickie repaint, a price more appropriate to a Veloce in this condition than a Normale, despite the auction’s fabulously generous estimate. The repaint and other superficial attention robbed it of any hope of getting an originality premium.
1973 Maserati Bora 4.9 Coupe, Body by Giugiaro
Lot # 115 1973 Maserati Bora 4.9 Coupe, Body by Giugiaro; S/N AM11749534; Engine # AM1071149534; Blue, Stainless steel roof/Black leather; Estimate $180,000 – $220,000; Older restoration, 2- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $170,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $187,000 – Quadruple Webers, Pirelli P4000 tires, dual mirrors, locking filler cap, leather-wrapped steering wheel, Maserati Classiche certification, tools, jack, build sheet, owner’s manual, jack. – One of just 275 Bora 4.9s. Represented as matching numbers. 2009 restoration. Unusual but very attractive colors changed from the original red. Unknown early history. Very good paint. Lightly worn driver’s seat. A few very small dents and scratches in the stainless roof. Beautiful car. Done recently enough to still be fresh but it wasn’t a no expense spared job. – This is a huge result for a Bora, even taking the 4.9 engine and solid presentation into account, but still a significant value compared with its counterparts from Maranello.
1987 BMW M635CSi Coupe
Lot # 117 1987 BMW M635CSi Coupe; S/N WBAEE1401H2560534; Cinnabar Red/Beige leather; Estimate $30,000 – $40,000; Unrestored original, 3+ condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $19,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $20,900 – 3.5/286hp, 5-speed, alloy wheels, Michelin tires, rear spoiler, sunroof, power windows, air conditioning, Alpine CD stereo, service history, books. – One owner for most of its life. The bumper plastic is dull but the paint is very good. There is some curb rash on the wheels. Worn but sound upholstery. The rest of the interior is quite good. Certainly not perfect, but remarkably good considering the 99,443 miles on the odometer. – A highly unusual car, the first of BMW’s M-series and one of 1,767 built for the U.S. It has obviously been cherished for years and this result is a bargain for its condition. It has nowhere to go but up in value.
1957 Ford Thunderbird Convertible
Lot # 118 1957 Ford Thunderbird Convertible; S/N E7FH236160; Thunderbird Bronze, Bronze hardtop/Bronze vinyl; Estimate $50,000 – $60,000; Older restoration, 2- condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $36,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $39,600 – 312/270hp, dual quads, automatic, Vintage A/C, cassette stereo, chrome wire wheels, whitewalls, power steering, power brakes, hardtop only. – Very good older paint, chrome and interior. Neat, orderly engine compartment but the fan, A/C belt is misaligned, probably in the rotary A/C compressor installation. A quality older restoration that is holding up very well. – Always popular and with enough power from the dual quad engine for it to keep up with modern traffic, the Vintage A/C doesn’t hurt its value (except for the belt issue) as it is an accepted upgrade by T-bird clubs to enhance using their cars. Its restoration (said to date back to ancient history – the 1980’s) is holding up impressively and it could have brought the low estimate without being expensive
1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
Lot # 120 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing; S/N 1980405500587; Engine # 1989807500496; Red/Tan leather; Estimate $900,000 – $1,200,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $820,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $902,000 – Rudge centerlock wheel with body color centers and polished rims, Michelin blackwall tires, Talbot outside mirror, hinged steering wheel, fitted luggage, air conditioning added. – Very good color changed paint, chrome and interior. Replacement engine block. Broken driver’s outside door latch handle. Deck lid emblem was rechromed over small pits and the rear and quarter window lock trim is dull. Engine is orderly but the chassis is covered in road grime. A good used car with fresh cosmetics. Wade Carter estate. – The car collectors’ faith in what might be is evident in the generous price paid for this sound but needy Gullwing. Its history of seventeen years with Wade Carter and for some time before that with John Calley offers some confidence in its underlying quality, but it also has a replacement block. The executors should be grateful to Bonhams for getting this much.
1950 Jaguar XK 120M Roadster
Lot # 121 1950 Jaguar XK 120M Roadster; S/N S672788; Engine # W5834-8S; Old English White/Tan leather; Tan cloth top; Estimate $70,000 – $90,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $78,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $85,800 – 3442/180hp, centerlock wire wheels, Dunlop Road Speed tires. – Slightly dull but presentable paint. Uneven panel gaps. Big gouge taken out of the paint right behind the passenger’s side door. Paint coming off of the red painted brake drums. Good, lightly worn interior. Long crack at the back of the hood. Represented as matching numbers. Titled as a 1953 with chassis 672788. Extensive mechanical and cosmetic work done in the early 1990s, but never fully apart and enjoyed since. Recently serviced. A 94,831-mile XK120 that’s been well maintained and is in reassuring driver condition. – This XK 120M isn’t going to wow JCNA judges, but it is more than handsome enough to be an exceptional driver particularly at this price which doesn’t really recognize the quality of its care and presentation. The transaction is fair to both the buyer and the seller.