One thing we will all take to heart after the events of last year is how tough it can be to predict the future. Though our team can extend every effort, putting on a world-class event requires attendees from around the world to gather in one place, not to mention assembling a list of cars that are top tier. A hint at the most exciting offering of any auction can usually be found on the cover of its respective catalogue. As dazzling as the ‘Disappearing Top’ Duesenberg that graced the cover of our catalogue, RM Sotheby’s 2021 Amelia Island Auction proved to be an overwhelming success, proving that the market for desirable automobiles has not faded over the past year.
Speaking of the marvelous 1929 Duesenberg Model J 'Disappearing Top' Torpedo by Murphy which graced the cover of our auction catalogue for Amelia Island, predicting it as the star of the show would not require much clairvoyance. Merely describing the Murphy coachwork on this Model J, with its tapered Torpedo styling and triple-tone color scheme, evokes images of another age. Shown from above, in the striking artwork by RM Sotheby’s expert in-house designer Adriaan Geluk, on this year’s catalogue, one can imagine aiming this Duesenberg southwards towards the Florida Keyes on a grand adventure. Seeing it in person, with the brilliant chrome-over-brushed aluminum body glinting in the lights of the Ritz Carlton resort’s ballroom, was somehow even more spectacular, as all attendees can surely attest.
The spirit of the roaring twenties could almost be sensed in the ballroom at the Ritz as well, as three bidders valiantly sparred against one another for ownership of the one-off Duesenberg. Auctioneer Mike Shackleton deserves recognition at this point, as his measured and even articulation allowed for some all-out bidding at the end, with the final bid hammering down at $5,725,000.
As stunning as the headline-grabbing Duesenberg was, successful auctions are built from not one, but many spectacular selections. The image above samples a bit of this variety, with the late-production, U.S.-spec 1991 Ferrari F40 (sold for $2,040,000) and 1995 Ferrari F50 both attracting considerable attention. The F50’s hammer price of $3,772,500 made it the second-highest result of the auction. Ferrari fans will also have noticed the 1972 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS by Scaglietti in the background, a former Cavallino Classic concours attendee, which sold for a respectable $401,000.
Zooming out somewhat, one can see the supercar selection was not limited to the Ferrari brand, with this hybrid-powered 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder selling for a fitting $1,182,000. Yet it would be difficult to top a true classic like the 1968 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 parked behind it, which commanded a hammer price of $2,810,000, making it the auction’s third-highest result. Also of note in the background is the blue-and-orange liveried 2006 Ford GT Heritage, which sported only 2.7 miles and sold for $566,000, proving that supercars of all stripes are still selling for strong sums, as long as they can genuinely be called “super.”
On the day of the auction, the Giallo Solare 275 GTB/4 was parked next to another standout Ferrari sports car, this 1971 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider by Scaglietti, wearing its original shade of Giallo Fly. Fittingly, this drop-top Daytona also saw strong demand during Saturday’s auction, with the final hammer price adding up to $2,452,500, making it the auction’s fourth-highest sale.
Outside, in the auction’s action-packed staging area, the supercar theme continued, with this 1991 Lamborghini Diablo standing out in the Ritz Carlton’s courtyard. Fans of full classics no doubt noticed the 1937 Cord 812 Supercharged Cabriolet and the 1930 Cadillac V-16 All-Weather Phaeton by Fleetwood pictured behind the Diablo, all of which could certainly claim “super” status. Whether roaming the many diverse offerings of this year’s auction, or attending the superb concours d’elegance curated by Bill Warner on the resort’s expansive golf course, it felt almost like, if not the world at large, at least the classic car world specifically was starting to return to normal.
Underneath the protective tent holding some of the auction’s treasures, RM Sotheby’s specialist Ramsey Potts held court, describing the finer points of the 2014 Chevrolet SS NASCAR, the final rainbow-liveried racecar driven by American legend Jeff Gordon. When the rumbling of the Hendrick Motorsports-certified Chevy race engine announced this NASCAR-winning example’s on-stage debut, both auctioneer Mike Shackleton and RM Sotheby’s Chief Operating Officer Alain Squindo had to comment: “Isn’t that excellent?” Indeed, with all the events of the last year and the promising view of the collector car market provided by this most recent data point in Amelia Island, it feels very much like the natural world is returning to excellence.