Classic Car Capital

RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2015 – Auction Report

RM Sotheby’s, Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida, March 14, 2015

Only 28 auctions have recorded higher sale totals than RM’s 2015 Amelia Island auction total of $60,122,000. It is by nearly 50% the highest auction total ever at Amelia.

Only 18 have recorded higher median transaction values than RM Amelia’s $258,500, only 25 have higher average transaction value than its $607,293.

RM announced in the week following the sale that the two cars unsold during the auction were placed in post-block transactions (albeit with undisclosed values that prevent them from being included in the aggregate stats), an unprecedented accomplishment in a multi-consignor auction with 55% of the lots offered with reserves.

What better way for Rob Myers and his team to kick off the newly-announced acquisition of a 25% interest in RM Auctions by Sotheby’s?

The RM-Sotheby’s connection has been bubbling up since Sotheby’s botched 2005 auction at Ferrari in Maranello which RM bailed out two years later with a successful $45.1 million, 97% sale rate auction in the same location.

RM’s 2013 ‘Art of the Automobile’ auction at Sotheby’s York Avenue headquarters in New York, a $62.6 million showcase of style and rarity that placed 91.4% of the cars offered with new owners, continued the trend line that leads directly to last month’s announcement.

Rob Myers and Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht kicked off the Amelia Island auction with a presentation on the block … then Ruprecht, who had announced his impending resignation in November under pressure from activist investor Dan Loeb, was succeeded as CEO four days later. His replacement, Tad Smith, comes to Sotheby’s from Madison Square Garden Co. and has zip auction experience, but loads of background putting on blockbuster events – which says volumes about how much the auction business has come to depend upon Barrett-Jackson style event production and management.

Will Dan Loeb meet his match with the motorcycle painter from Canada, Rob Myers?

I put my money on Rob, who doesn’t bet unless he holds a full hand. It’s going to be fun to watch.

RM Sotheby’s alliance is the clearest example of the evolution of the collector car auction world. While new guys are showing up almost every month the smart players are making alliances for better stability, overhead absorption and enhanced financial resources, hedging against a coming shakeout.

Success like RM Sotheby’s produced at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island this year is only the tip of the iceberg.

RM Amelia Island
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est
Sold > High Est
Average Sale
Total Sales
101 / 99
91 / 88
88 / 81
116 / 102
103 / 99
114 / 98

RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2015 – Auction Report

1952 Kurtis Kraft 4000 "Bowes Seal Fast" Special Indy Car
Lot # 127 1952 Kurtis Kraft 4000 “Bowes Seal Fast” Special Indy Car; S/N 346; Engine # SPL; White, Blue/Brown leather; Estimate $275,000 – $350,000; Competition restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $450,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $495,000. With Reserve – Transverse leaf spring front, torsion bar rear suspension, lever shocks, 4-wheel disc brakes, centerlock polished disc wheels. – Driven by 1952 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Art Cross, later by others including Joey James, Mike Nazaruk, Johnny Parsons and Don Branson. Restored in the early 90’s, displayed at Pebble Beach in 1996 where it was first in class and winner of the Tony Hulman Memorial Cup. Well restored and shiny, not fresh but highly presentable with less than 10 hours on its early 90’s rebuilt engine. – This is a milestone price, but also a significant car with a good history and an impressively long lived restoration.
1931 Cord Front Drive L-29 Convertible Phaeton
Lot # 128 1931 Cord Front Drive L-29 Convertible Phaeton; S/N 2930071; Engine # FF 4993; Pale Green, Green accent/Tan leather; Tan cloth top; Estimate $150,000 – $200,000; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $142,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $156,750. With Reserve – Chrome wire wheels, wide whitewalls, dual sidemounts with strap on mirrors, metal luggage trunk. – Good recent paint, chrome and wire wheels. CCCA Premier # 0899 and ACD Club Category One. Restored in the 60’s with more recent paint and mechanical freshening. Good older top and interior. Rather startling colors. – Impressive on its own, but also impressively maintained over the half century since its original restoration, this is a reasonable price.
1972 Ferrari 246 GT Dino
Lot # 129 1972 Ferrari 246 GT Dino; S/N 03154; Argento Autiel/Bordeaux leather; Estimate $300,000 – $350,000; Unrestored original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $330,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $363,000. With Reserve – Cromodora alloy wheels, Michelin X tires, P/W, Becker Mexico cassette, chrome shift knob, headrest seats. – Represented as original and unrestored with 27,478 miles except for repainting the rear deck after removing a Ferrari badge. Three owners. Bad rust blister over the right upper door hinge. Very good upholstery and chrome. Clean, orderly engine compartment. Clean underbody with original undercoat. – Other than the rot in the passenger’s door this is a sound and well-documented highly original Dino that has all the indicia of a car that has been carefully maintained throughout its life by a few caring owners. It is a sound value for money in the present Dino market.
1995 Ferrari F512 M Berlinetta
Lot # 134 1995 Ferrari F512 M Berlinetta; S/N ZFFVG40A1S0101411; Red/Beige leather; Estimate $325,000 – $375,000; Unrestored original, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $420,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $462,000. No Reserve – Speedline 18-inch modular wheels, Continental tires, A/C, manuals, tools. – Good original paint and chrome. Wheel wells stone chipped and show road use. Belt serviced three years ago with 150 miles since. A clean, original used car showing 11,749 believable miles. – This was a $275,000 car only months ago, now it’s estimated at $325-375,000 and sold for a hammer bid 12% over the already generous high estimate, a transaction that confirms the value escalation of late model Ferraris. Consider that this is a production car, one of 75 U.S. spec cars and 501 total. Even as the ultimate Testarossa derivative it is commonplace and visually ‘just another Testarossa’. This is huge money.
1955 Jaguar D-Type Sports Racer
Lot # 135 1955 Jaguar D-Type Sports Racer; S/N XKD 530; Engine # E2044-9; Dark Green/Green leather; Estimate $3,750,000 – $4,250,000; Competition restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $3,340,909 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $3,675,000. With Reserve – RHD. Dunlop centerlock alloy wheels, Dunlop Racing tires, dual wraparound Plexiglas windscreens, 4-point belts, RetroTrip rally odometer, SINN stopwatch and clock, three Salter digital timers, driver’s head fairing. – A well known car with an involved history. First owned by tennis player Kurt Lincoln of Finland and raced there on land and on ice. It was later separated into two cars claiming the same chassis number. Eventually Gary Bartlett acquired both cars which were extensively researched and examined by Chris Keith-Lucas then reassembled into this car with the original monocoque, front chassis subframe, engine, transmission and brake calipers. An unnumbered bitsa also resulted, now owned by C- and D-type registrar Terry Larson. Very good paint and interior. Chassis (and an array of scrutineering stickers) shows use. Attractively presented and maintained. – Sold by Christie’s in London in June 2002 for $517,979 while there were still two claimants to the chassis number, then sold after rectification by RM at Monterey in 2013 for $3,905,000. It left the RM Sotheby’s Amelia auction block unsold but closed during the sale with this result, surely an excellent deal in a D-type that is eligible for, and has participated in, many desirable events including four runs in the Mille Miglia Storica.
1958 Pontiac Bonneville 2-Dr. Hardtop
Lot # 137 1958 Pontiac Bonneville 2-Dr. Hardtop; S/N C558H3252; Engine # C558U 3252; Green, Light Green roof and accent/Light Green vinyl, Green cloth; Estimate $100,000 – $150,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $75,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $82,500. No Reserve – 370/300hp Tri-Power, automatic, P/S, P/B, P/W, Trans-Portable radio, heater, power antenna, rear speaker, wheel covers, whitewalls, skirts. – Good old paint, chrome and interior except for some weak window trim. Aged, used engine, dirty underbody. Once was a show queen, now it’s a mediocre driver. – Sold by RM from the Milhous brothers’ collection in 2012 for $121,000, then by Auctions America at Auburn Fall in 2013 for $107,250, it isn’t ageing well and brought what it should in its present mediocre condition. But the new owner has an opportunity to give it some attention and bring it back to better appearance while restoring some of the value it has lost due to use.
1935 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Cabriolet A, Body by Sindelfingen
Lot # 138 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Cabriolet A, Body by Sindelfingen; S/N 105384; Engine # 105384; Black/Red leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $2,900,000 – $3,500,000; Older restoration, 1- condition; Hammered Sold at $2,750,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $3,025,000. With Reserve – Black wire wheels, blackwall tires, dual rear spares, mother of pearl instrument travel, spotlight, dip beam light. – Change to 540K engine endorsed in correspondence from M-B. Especially handsome bodywork combining the style of a Special Roadster and the weather protection of a Cabriolet. Known history through its assignment to Dr. Gavin, a M-B director, in 1938 then from its appearance in Paris in 1953. Continuous history since 1957 including use by M-B in 2005 for model introductions. Exceptionally attractive for a cabriolet, even with the top down. An older restoration with good but not concours paint, bright chrome, good interior and top and sound interior wood. Chassis has been repainted assembled since the restoration with some shadows from inattentive application. Clean, chrome detailed engine. – Sold by Worldwide in Houston in 2006 for $1,650,000 and a little aged since then but still nearly concours quality, a car that needs no excuses for its Cabriolet A body, which is every bit as attractive as a Special Roadster.
1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 Coupe, Body by Pininfarina
Lot # 141 1972 Ferrari 365 GTC/4 Coupe, Body by Pininfarina; S/N 15197; Blue Sera/Beige leather; Estimate $300,000 – $375,000; Older restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $450,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $495,000. With Reserve – 5-spoke alloy wheels, Michelin XWX tires, CD stereo, P/W, A/C. – Very good paint, unblemished upholstery, a little aged underhood but not in any sense ‘used’. – This was, by consensus, the best GTC/4 in the world when it sold at RM’s Monterey auction in 2012 for $181,500, barely more than the $150,000 spent on its restoration. It has not aged well since then, but that’s not apparent from the over-estimate price it brought, exactly 50% more than the low estimate. Another $150,000 would buy a decent Daytona, but then you’d have to leave the kids at home.
1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet, Body by Pinin Farina
Lot # 145 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet, Body by Pinin Farina; S/N 1945SA; Engine # 1945SA; Metallic Verde Bottiglia (Bottle Green)/Red leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $6,000,000 – $7,000,000; Concours restoration, 1 condition; Hammered Sold at $5,800,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $6,380,000. With Reserve – Chrome spoke Borrani wire wheels, Pirelli Cinturato HS tires. – One of seven SWB Superamerica Cabriolets, freshly restored to concours standards in the original, and striking, color scheme. Never shown and not noted as being Ferrari Classiche certified. – The highlight of the Amelia Island auctions, a beautiful automobile in magnificent condition and visually arresting in its Bottle Green over Red leather livery, it brought an appropriate price for its style, rarity and condition, not to mention the performance of its 4-liter 340hp V-12.