24 March 2009

Highlights from the Amelia Island Concours and The RM Auction

This year’s edition of the Amelia Island Concours d'Elégance illustrated once again why the Florida show has become a favorite event for so many in the old car hobby. Even after fifteen years, founder Bill Warner’s enthusiasm and sense of good fun is undiminished and both came through in the selection of cars and special classes at this year’s event.

Case in point, 2009’s unique all-yellow Italian car class: Even the most jaded car people are drawn to the sight of a single bright yellow Italian sports car. But the sight of an entire class painted in this hue was irresistible.

The popular color is known by its Italian name “Giallo Fly” or “Fly Yellow.” Fittingly, the origin of the color’s name is shrouded in mystery. Although cars painted this color draw onlookers like flies to a bug zapper, the pesky insect has nothing to do with the name. Some maintain that it’s simply an acronym for “Ferrari Light Yellow”—a neat resolution, but one that ignores the fact that the shade is anything but light.

A more glamorous (and likely) explanation comes from the fact that Mr. Ferrari liked to play the ponies and was known to name his colors after famous race horses like Verde “Seabird” and Azzurro “Hyperion.” “Fly” was the name of a famous race horse in the 1950s and hence the name “Fly” Yellow. The Giallo Fly class winner was a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 owned by Tom and Dee Stegman of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Other special classes at the Amelia Island Concours included cars driven by racer David Hobbs, cars commemorating the 50th anniversary of the US Grand Prix at Sebring and the cars of Group 44, the all conquering race team helmed for years by Bob Tullius. Best in Show Concours d’ Elégance was won by a car built by a French aviation pioneer, the rare and stunning 1931 Voisin C20 Demi-Berline owned by The Munder Collection of West Palm Beach, FL. Best in Show Concours de Sport was won by the 1922 Miller Special 122 Supercharged owned by A. Dano Davis of Jacksonville, FL.

Auction Highlights

Final sales numbers were recently released by RM auctions and they continue to follow the pattern of most post-October 2008 events—down a bit from the previous year ($12.5 million and 83% sold vs. $16.7 million and 92% sold at last year’s event), nevertheless, there were some strong prices paid for cars that were presented in “ready to be enjoyed” condition. The top sale (including the buyer’s premium) broke the $1 million mark with $1,072,500 brought for a 1930 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe. RM Auction's COO Ian Kelleher explains more about the results of the sale and the market in general in a video interview that is exclusive to Hagerty.

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