Posted 2016-02-23 in Car

5 Rare, Historic Automobiles offered at the 2016 Amelia Island Auctions

Along with Scottsdale and Monterey, Amelia Island is one of the three major auction events for top shelf collector cars in North America. Five auctions are scheduled on the island in Northern Florida in the days leading up to the annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and all five bring a solid offering of classic sports cars, American muscle, prewar luxury and modern exotic. The biggest news in Amelia Island this year is Gooding & Company’s consignment of 16 significant Porsches (and two Volkswagens) from the collection of comedian Jerry Seinfeld. A pretty diverse mix of road and race cars, the Seinfeld Porsches could bring $25 million to $32 million if they all sell within their presale estimate range. Even without the Seinfeld cars, however, Amelia Island 2016 would still be a world-class group of auctions.

1957 Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France

RM Sotheby’s Estimate: N/A

[photo: RM Sotheby’s]

Ferrari truly established its reputation for speed with the domination of sports car racing during the 1950s and early 1960s. It did this in both the prototype classes and the GT classes, and the 250 Tour de France (TdF) was one of the company’s most successful cars of the day. It wasn’t originally called the Tour de France, but model’s dominance of the event in the second half of the 1950s led to the name and it stuck. The car offered by RM Sotheby’s was bought new by a French industrialist and racer who campaigned it in some of Europe’s great events. While the car didn’t score any important victories, it did score a fourth place finish at Spa, third place finishes at Reims and Monza and two second place finishes at Monthléry. One of only a few dozen built and powered by Ferrari’s glorious 250 V-12, one of the most successful and versatile engines ever made, the car has since been restored and shown at concours events. RM Sotheby’s hasn’t published a presale estimate for the car, but an eight-figure result isn’t out of the question.

1955 Porsche 550 Spyder

Gooding & Company

Estimate: $5,000,000 - $6,000,000

[photo: Gooding & Company]

One of Seinfeld’s numerous Porsches on offer is this 550 Spyder. The 550 was one of Porsche’s most important models in the company’s early days of small displacement sports car racing, and frequently bested cars with much bigger engines and much more power. Many were raced and driven hard or crashed, but Seinfeld’s example has led a pretty easy life and is one of the most original examples in existence, with just one repaint in its original colors. It was found on a used car lot in Worcester, Massachusetts in the early 1960s and then passed through the ownership of several sympathetic collectors before making its way to Seinfeld in 2007.

1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am

Gooding & Company

Estimate: $5,000,000 - $7,000,000

[photo: Gooding & Company]

After winning Le Mans in 1970 and 1971 with their 12-cylinder 917K, Porsche brought the car over to North America to compete in the Can-Am championship. Can-Am was a highly competitive series then dominated by well engineered and well driven McLarens powered by highly tuned Chevrolet-based V-8s. To make the 917 competitive, Porsche turbocharged the flat-12 and fitted spider bodywork. The original 917/10 dominated the 1972 Can-Am season and probably would have in 1973 as well, but Porsche further refined the design with the 917/30. In qualifying trim with the boost cranked up, the 917/30 is said to have made over 1,500 hp and is probably the most powerful road racing car we’ll ever see. Mark Donohue won the Can-Am championship with the car in 1973, and at the time called it the perfect race car. Acquired by Seinfeld in 2012, the car on offer from Gooding & Company was actually sold new in Australia and never raced in anger in period, but is nevertheless a genuine example of one of Porsche’s best design achievements.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider

Gooding & Company

Estimate: $15,000,000 - $17,000,000

[photo: Gooding & Company]

The 250 California Spider isn’t so much desirable for its racing success (although it had plenty) as it is for its combination of rarity and sheer beauty. Just 56 examples of the improved short wheelbase (SWB) version of the car were built, and just 37 have the covered headlights that can add a significant amount to a car’s price tag. While the Seinfeld Porsches are big news, the California Spider offered by Gooding is worth more than all of them. Gooding sold another one at Pebble Beach last year for $16,830,000 and Artcurial got $18.5 million for their barn find example last year, so the presale estimate on this car seems realistic.

1939 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Cabriolet A

RM Sotheby’s

Estimate: $3,000,000 - $4,000,000

[photo: RM Sotheby’s]

RM just sold a Mercedes-Benz 540K Roadster in Arizona for $9.9 million, so they’re hoping to bring another strong result with this car. While this one has less desirable bodywork than the Arizona car, it won Best of Show in Pebble Beach in 1973 and has been in prominent private collections for decades. The supercharged 540K is one of the most highly respected cars from the golden age of automotive design that was the 1930s, and it’s a car that any real connoisseur knows and appreciates.

By Andrew Newton

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