Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, 11 March 2017.
The 22nd annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance took place at its traditional location on the 10th and 18th fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island, adjacent to the splendid Ritz-Carlton Hotel. However, the 2017 edition didn’t take place on its traditional Sunday, but was brought forward to the Saturday, as storms were forecast for the Sunday. It proved to be a brave but wise organisational decision, as although the main bulk of the rain was overnight, Sunday was a very chilly, overcast and windy day, which certainly wouldn’t have been conducive to everybody’s enjoyment. Conversely the weather on Saturday was perfect, with pleasantly warm temperatures and an abundance of sunshine. To accommodate the change of day, the “Cars & Coffee” gathering, normally held on the show field on the Saturday morning, was transferred to the MotorXpo field across the street, which is a free to enter event run in conjunction with the main concours.
As a prelude to the main event there are three major auction companies holding significant auctions, the official auction company of the concours, RM Sotheby’s on site at the Ritz-Carlton, Gooding & Company at the nearby Amelia Island Plantation, together with Bonhams at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club, plus a couple of others in the locality. Despite RM Sotheby’s main auction now clashing with the re-scheduled concours on the Saturday, all reported healthy sale prices and sell through rates.
Bonhams reported an 87% sell-through rate with a total sales figure of US$10.2 million, with the highlight sale being a 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Alloy Pinin Farina Coupe, which achieved US$2,227,500. Other highlights included a “Brass Era” 1911 Pierce-Arrow Model 48 Touring, that sold for US$550,000, whilst a very early production 1961 Jaguar E-Type Roadster made US$326,700, and a 1986 Lamborghini Countach 500 S QV sold for US$335,500.
Over at the Gooding & Company auction they realised total sales of US$30,568,700 with a 78% sell through rate, with nine cars achieving over the US$1 million mark. The star sale was a 1998 Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion, which sold for US$5.665 million, a new world record price for the model and for a Porsche 911. Other highlights included a 2015 McLaren P1, which sold for US$2,392,500, a 1989 Mazda 767B that raced at the 1989 24 Hours of Le Mans, which achieved US$1.75 million, and the 1949 Aston Martin DB Mk II that was formerly owned by company head David Brown, which sold for US$1.54 million.
RM Sotheby’s posted US$70.9 million in total sales, with a 90% sell through rate at their 19th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance sale, with post auction sales of two high number Ferraris boosting this figure further. This was a new benchmark for an Amelia Island auction, with the total comfortably exceeding the combined totals of all the other auctions held over the weekend. They had no less than 19 individual million-dollar-plus sales, with the top number claimed by a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet, one of only three examples sporting this rare coachwork by Vanvooren of Paris, and which was offered for public sale for the first time in its 80-year history, achieving US$7.7 million. Just prior to the Bugatti’s sale, a 1929 Stutz Model M Supercharged Coupe sold for US$1.705 million, against a pre-sale estimate of $1/1.2 million.
After all the auction action let’s get back to the show! Each year a motor sport personality is chosen as the honouree of the show, with a class dedicated to the cars that they have driven during their career, and 2017 was no exception, with the accolade going to American racing legend, Al Unser Sr., four time winner of the Indianapolis 500, along with numerous other race and championship wins to his credit, including the 24 Hours of Daytona. The gathering also featured a number of important milestones in automotive history, including the 50th anniversary of the Chevrolet Camaro, with a display of a range of competition and road variants produced over the years. Another class was a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Jaguar D-Type’s third and final Le Mans victory at Le Mans in 1957, with a variety of long and short nose examples, plus the XK SS road going derivative, of which only 16 examples were produced, with movie legend Steve McQueen being one of the most famous owners. This year there was a class for “Movie Cars”, featuring the likes of the Aston Martin DB5 from the James Bond film “Goldfinger”, the Ferrari 275 GTS4 from the “Thomas Crown Affair”, which was also raced in the 12 Hours of Sebring by Denise McCluggage/Pinky Rollo, the Porsche 917 from “Le Mans” and the 1958 Chevrolet Impala from “American Graffiti”. There was also the first North American showing of one of Japan’s first purpose built race cars, the Prince R380 sports racing car from 1965, courtesy of Infiniti, which appeared in the Japanese Prototype class.
Apart from the annually changing feature classes, every year the gathering attracts a wide variety of rare and desirable automobiles and motorcycles, numbering over 300 in total, and one never ceases to be amazed by the incredibly diverse and desirable selection of machinery that Bill Warner and his team assemble each year. It is no small wonder that the show has been awarded the EFG and Octane Magazine award for The International Motoring Event of the Year, twice in the past four years, a real tribute, not only to the show and its organisers, but also to the ambience that they create for visitors. Despite the last minute change of day, which must have created logistical nightmares relative to staff and catering availability etc, everything ran like clockwork. At the end of the day, the two major Best of Show awards went to the1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider from the A. Dano Davis Collection, which took the Ritz-Carlton Concours de Sport trophy, with the Ritz-Carlton Concours d’Elegance trophy going to the 1935 Duesenberg SJ-582 Limousine of Terence E. Adderley