Last week, the 20th Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance was held at the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, Fla., bringing out some of the most beautiful cars ever built. Over 315 blue-chip cars and motorcycles were displayed on the rolling green, with a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Town Car and Spanish-built Pegaso Z102 BS 2.5 Cupula Coupe taking home Best of Show awards. But like Pebble Beach, its West Coast counterpart, Amelia Island doesn’t just bring out gearheads anymore, it brings out collectors and their check books, too. Last month’s Scottsdale Auction Week may have shown signs that the insane upward spiral of collector cars may finally be slowing, but the fortunes spent in Florida show that there isn’t exactly a bust looming on the horizon.
As usual, the big winners were mid-century Ferraris (with how often these things have been changing hands, you’d think Ferrari outsold the Mustang way back when), with a few tried-and-true prewar classics thrown into the mix to keep things interesting. The big X-factor, however, was noted Porsche collector and sometime comedian Jerry Seinfeld who decided to divest himself of 16 cars from his stable, making for one of the most memorable auctions for Porsche fans in some time.
So Amelia Island’s auctions had just enough variety to keep things interesting, while keeping prices high enough to make sellers happy, and make most mortal gearheads weep. Here’s a look at the six biggest-sellers from the classiest event that will happen in Florida this year.
6. 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder
When it was introduced in 1970, the Porsche 917 was the most dominant endurance racer in the world, one of the fastest cars ever built (zero to 60 in two seconds, 240-plus MPH), and also almost universally acknowledged as probably the most terrifying car you could drive. But this was the ’70s, baby, so for 1970, Porsche lightened it, opened up the cockpit, and began racing in the American Can-Am series. This car was driven by the legendary Mark Donohue in the 1973 season, where it absolutely dominated. One of Seinfeld’s cars, it sold for far below the $5-7 million estimate, but it still fetched a cool $3 million through Gooding & Company.
5. 1966 Ford GT40 Mk I Coupe
Ironically enough, the 917 is the car that finally ended the GT40’s five-year dominance in the racing world. No matter; its legendary status, gorgeous lines, and ultra-rare road car configuration (one of just 31) earn this Ford the fifth spot on our list. Gooding & Company sold this one too. It fetched $3.3 million.
4. 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica Coupe
A decade ago, this Ferrari wouldn’t be anywhere near the top 10 at a blue-chip auction. Yes, it’s a V12-powered Ferrari from the company’s golden age, and yes, it’s just one of 18 with this Pininfarina-styled body, but it’s also the type of big, luxurious grand tourer that Enzo Ferrari cynically sold to raise money for his all-important racing program – the type of car that was largely ignored by collectors until recently. With a well-documented history and impressive restoration, this Superamerica fetched $4.4 million at RM Sotheby’s auction.
3. 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder
At a time when the dead-simple 356 represented the most luxurious Porsche you could buy, the 550 Spyder was the company’s no-frills street-legal racer. Just 60 of the all-aluminum cars were built over its three-year production run, and one was infamously destroyed in the wreck that killed James Dean. The jewel in the crown of the Seinfeld cars, this Spyder has just over 10k miles on the clock, and is likely one the most original examples out there. Gooding & Company sold it for $5,335,000.
2. 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Sports Tourer
When Bugatti talks about channeling its heritage with cars like Chiron, this is what it’s talking about. Introduced in 1934, the Type 57SC had a 200 horsepower supercharged V8 mated to a four-speed transmission – at a time when Ford V8s left the factory with 85 ponies. With a rare British-built Vanden Plas body, this classic Bugatti was sold by Bonham’s for $9,735,000.
1. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spider
It wouldn’t be a blue-chip auction without a classic Ferrari fetching the most money, but at least it went toward a worthy model – and yes, this is the Ferris Bueller car. One of just 36 built with the beautiful covered headlights, this is the car most collectors really want then they buy another ’60s-era Ferrari. Gooding & Company sold this one for $17,160,000, or roughly the price of a Northrop Grumman F-5 Tiger, LeBron James’s old house in Miami, or Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis’ annual contract.