Welcome back to The Collector Car Podcast. For this episode, I will review the Amelia Island results from all the big auction houses and I will identify some of the winners and losers from different events. This will include everything from the cars that performed above expectations to those that did not to events that occurred over the weekend. There is even one new car that literally made my eyes hurt it was so ugly.
But before we get started, I do have a few updates. Soon you will notice that I’ve added a “Artist Update” section to the podcast. This will be in addition to the regular content and it will be a quick interview with some of the incredible automotive artist I have had the pleasure of meeting.
There are now three ways for you to get content from The Collector Car Podcast. Obviously, if you are listening to this podcast, you know that a new episode is posted every Thursday. Future episodes include an interview with Motor Trend Editor, Jonny Lieberman, Cavallino Classic’s Luigi Orlandini, The Biggest Little Car Collector, A Deeper Look into Jay Leno’s Garage and more.
You can also find new content on my YouTube Channel including behind-the-scenes look at what it means to be a Car Specialist for RM Sotheby’s, collector visits, barn finds and museum tours. Videos coming soon include a tour of the Gilmore Car Museum, a barn find Dodge Power Wagon that is available now for private sale and I share my experiences during the Amelia Concours weekend.
The third avenue for new content is to subscribe to my “Insider’s Alert” email. This has additional market trend information including my most recent “12 Cars to Watch at Amelia” and my results email which will go out tomorrow. To subscribe, just send me an email at Greg@TheCollectorCarPodcast.com.
Now let’s move onto the “Winners and Losers of Amelia Island”. First, a note about the estimates that are assigned to each car at auctions. The estimates are only as good as the Car Specialists and their counterparts. At RM Sotheby’s, we want to be as accurate as possible and often confirm with other Specialist who may be more specialized in a certain era of automobile. Auction houses should want to be as accurate as possible and in today’s hyper-active market, it is sometimes hard to get them just right. There is one auction house out there who is not RM Sotheby’s, Gooding or Bonham’s, that let’s the seller come up with their own estimates. Beware! If this happens to you, run away as they just want to get the cars to the auction and then grind you down on your reserve if it doesn’t sell.
Also, many times there is a gap between what the seller thinks his or her car is worth and what the auction house believe it will sell for. This sometimes results in cars selling for an appropriate value but selling below estimate. I.e. the auction house knows a car will sell for $250k but the seller thinks it is worth $300k to $400k. The auction house may put on an estimate of $300k – $400k to get the car in hopes that it sells strong. When it does not, they work with the seller to get it sold for a more realistic price.
Hagerty had a great quote that highlighted the gap in seller’s expectations and actual valuations from the Amelia auctions. Per Hagerty, “Bidders were willing to play ball but sellers, perhaps spoiled by a year of estimate-beating sales, were often holding out for more: a quarter of cars that did not sell were bid to Hagerty’s #1 (concours condition) value. Sellers, or even the auction companies, are overestimating the heat of the market.” To be fair, there are times when the estimate cannot keep up with the quickly increasing values of certain makes. One example would be the BMWs from the Gooding sale.
For the purposes of this analysis, I did not include any motorcycles in my calculations because this is not The Collector Motorcycle Podcast. Now off to the winners…
Total sales for the three-day auction window was $127.7 million across RM Sotheby’s, Gooding and Bonhams. It was the second-highest gross total after 2016’s record of $140 million. That was the peak of the collector car market at the time. Did we just experience a new peak? Only time will tell.
Highest Sales for Amelia and Year-To-Date
Year-To-Date Total Sales
Winners – Gooding for Amelia and RM Sotheby’s for YTD
Top 10 Sales
Winner – RMS for selling five out of the top 10 cars
Winner – Record Breaking Results
Winner – Most accurate (hammer fell within the estimate range)
Winner – Educated Buyers
Winner – Hagerty’s Cars and Caffeine Event
Winner – Hagerty
Loser – Bonhams 1950s cars that sold underestimate
Loser – Highest % Sold Underestimate
Loser – Unsold 1950s cars (LE shown)
Loser – People that are not use to change
Despite strong results, Amelia Island 2022 proved bidders have their limits
Overall, the week confirmed that the market is still very hot and included many record sales, but Amelia was not another leap upwards as we saw at the January 2022 auctions. It’s tempting to blame events in Europe, which managed to roil the stock market even as bidders were descending upon Amelia. Yet if we’ve learned anything from the last two years, it’s that collectors will continue collecting despite—and maybe even to escape from—turmoil in the world at large.
Rather, we suspect we’re simply seeing a market-finding equilibrium: The strong prices over the last few years have drawn more sellers—this year’s Amelia auctions had the most consignments since before the pandemic and the highest ever percentage of cars with estimates over a million. Bidders were willing to play ball but sellers, perhaps spoiled by a year of estimate-beating sales, were often holding out for more: a quarter of cars that did not sell were bid to Hagerty’s #1 (concours condition) value. Sellers, or even the auction companies, are overestimating the heat of the market.
Mixed Results – Prewar Cars
Why younger buyers are increasingly chasing prewar cars
2021 showed a significant increase in the sell-through rate of prewar cars (up ten points from 60 per cent to 70 percent) and a big reduction in the number of cars selling for under low estimate (just 10 percent compared with 41 per cent in 2020). In general, prewar cars seemed to sell better at auction in 2021 compared with the previous year. Also, the demographics of owners are changing—and in an encouraging fashion. Younger drivers are warming to these aging cars: from 2019 to 2021, the number of Millennials insuring prewar cars with Hagerty grew by 65 percent; for Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) it rose by 32 percent; while the number of owners born before 1946 fell a little, by two per cent.
Some big sales of prewar classics prove the market isn’t just buying their youth and moving on as demographics shift. Three of the top five sales were from the 1930s. This is the second year in a row that prewar cars have performed particularly well at Amelia, suggesting that even as more collectors gravitate toward online auctions, curated in-person sales seem to be the “right” place for these older machines, which tend to benefit more than other cars from in-person inspection.
That said, it’s worth noting that many of the prewar cars that sold here, even those that brought big prices, tended to be flat compared to previous sales five or ten years ago. For instance, the Talbot-Lago sold for an impressive $13.425M, but that’s only 1.8 percent more than it brought the last time it sold nine years ago. A high-yield savings account might have performed better in that time, although of course, it wouldn’t have returned nearly as much enjoyment.
Overall, the bidding at Amelia was certainly enthusiastic but not overly so. In the long run, that may be a good thing. An overheated market is one that has the potential to cool suddenly. What we saw in Amelia was car collectors were still very much willing to pay big money for exceptional cars, but not willing to spend recklessly. That bodes well for the long-term stability of collector car values.
And I couldn’t agree with Hagerty more.