(Bloomberg) -- This year at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance, a forecast of strong storms forced the major sale and show to be held a day early, on Saturday, rather than the planned-for and traditional Sunday. The switch possibly altered the sales themselves as high-rolling collectors had to adjust their scheduling, too. Over two days and five auctions, final results totaled $121.3 million, down from $140 million last year, with the average sale price at $332,345, down from $420,551 in 2016.
"While overall totals are markedly down from 2016 and lower than what we forecasted, it is debatable that weather forces were partly to blame as much as market forces," said Jonathan Klinger, an analyst for Hagerty.
Klinger said the biggest divergence came in the upper-middle market. Cars valued from $250,000 to $1 million continued to see lessened interest.
Porsches also suffered, which is a significant change from their past recent domination on the auction block. Of all the generations of 911 models carried in the Hagerty Price Guide, 964s and 993s are the only variants that haven’t dropped in value over the past two years. "Based on the results witnessed this weekend, it seems these cars may not be as insulated as previously believed," Klinger said.
Another hard-hit pocket: cars valued above $3 million. Only two of the seven lots in this category sold, neither of which was the headline-making 1957 Jaguar XKSS, which had an initial estimate of $16 million revised to $13 million based on late reports of a non-original engine. The feeling was that at this level of worth, buyers demand exceptional provenance or nothing, and Amelia didn't quite provide big-ticket cars to sell this year like previous years.
But there were some bright spots too last weekend, including strong sales for many late-model modern classic cars valued below $100,000.
"Buyers continue to prefer spending on more accessible and affordable cars, and are increasingly more discerning at the upper reaches of the market," Klinger said.
BMWs in general also did well. All five of the major ones offered took as much or more than their estimated values, including a special 1987 BMW M6 from Bonhams and a 1995 BMW M3 lightweight from Gooding & Co. And despite the under-showing of Porsches valued above $250,000, the Porsche GT1 was a notable exception; its $5.665 million price tag set a new world record for a GT1 at public auction.
Other top sales this year included a 2015 McLaren P1 Coupe (Gooding & Company) for $2,392,500 plus Maseratis, Ferraris, Lancias, and even a 1989 Mazda 767B Race Car (Gooding & Co.) that took $1,750,000. In short, there was something for everyone.
But the big winner was a 1937 Bugatti 57S Cabriolet from RM Sotheby’s that sold for $7.7 million, indicative of strong sell-through rates for pre-war cars. And a prewar 1929 Stutz Model M coupe sold for a record $1.705 million, also from RM Sotheby's. Overall, the median price for pre-war cars at the biggest sales rose by 18 percent compared to last year, Hagerty reported.
All told, and despite the major sales dip last weekend, the Amelia Island auctions continue to be a preferred destination for ultra-expensive cars, Klinger said. The event saw only one fewer car worth at least $5 million than at the Scottsdale auctions in January.
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