A 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 / 540K (Factory Upgrade) Spezial Roadster is the lead car for the Bonhams Amelia Island 2021 classic car auction in Florida, USA, end May 2021.
A magnificent red 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 / 540K (Factory Upgrade) Spezial Roadster with an estimate of $4.5 to $5 million is the most expensive car on offer not only at Bonhams but at all classic car auctions during the Amelia Island 2021 sales in May 2021. The 12 most-expensive cars on offer in the auction are all prewar classics with several even from the pre-First World War Brass Era — a high-risk strategy that classic car lovers will watch with interest.
Bonhams Amelia Island 2021 Classic Car Sale
Bonhams scheduled its seventh Amelia Island sale for May 20, 2021, at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club in Florida, USA. The format will be a live auction with onsite bidding, as well as internet, telephone, and absentee bidding.
The 2021 auction has a relatively high 90% sell-through rate that is very encouraging for the classic car market especially given the high number of prewar and even brass era automobiles on offer.
Bonhams had the two top results at the Amelia Island 2020 auctions but the lowest sell-through rate of 76% and total earnings of $21.2 million with an average price of $240,536 (according to Hagerty).
In 2018, Bonhams earned $13.4 million and in 2017 the gains were around $10.2 million. Bonhams’ best Amelia Island auction was in 2016 when it earned $27.5 million in a sale that included a $9,735,000 result for a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Sports Tourer – one of the highest Bugatti results ever.
Top Cars at Bonhams Amelia Island Sale 2021
The top 12 most-expensive cars on offer at the Bonhams Amelia Island 2021 classic car auction are:
|1||1934||Mercedes-Benz 500/540 K Spezial Roadster||4,500,000 – 5,000,000|
|2||1909||Roll-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Open Drive Landaulette||1,300,000 – 1,500,000|
|3||1928||Mercedes-Benz 630 K La Baule Torpedo Transformable||1,100,000 – 1,250,000|
|4||1913||Mercer Type 35 K Runabout||1,000,000 – 1,500,000|
|5||1933||Duesenberg Model J Sweep Panel Dual-Cowl Phaeton||1,000,000 – 1,250,000|
|6||1934||Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet by Franay||800,000 – 1,000,000|
|7||1935||Godsal Sports Tourer by Corsica||750,000 – 950,000|
|8||1912||Stutz Bearcat||650,000 – 850,000|
|9||1908||Simplex 50HP Speedcar||600,000 – 800,000|
|10||1935||Auburn 851 Supercharged Boattail Speedster||600,000 – 800,000|
|11||1933||Chrysler Imperial Model CL Dual Cowl Phaeton||550,000 – 675,000|
|12||1927||Rolls-Royce Phantom I Transformal Phaeton||450,000 – 550,000|
Million-Dollar Cars at Bonhams Amelia Island 2021
No one could accuse Bonhams of trying to play it safe at the Amelia Island 2021 classic car auction: rather than a bunch of easy-to-sell-without-personal-inspection modern hypercars, the top twelve cars on offer are all prewar classics. These range in age from the 1908 Simplex 50 HP Speedcar and the 1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost to the magnificent 1930s Mercedes-Benz 500 / 540 K Spezial Roadster, Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet, and a Duesenberg Model J.
Prewar cars in this price range are often a hard sale but given the high number of cars on offer, the right buyers are likely to attend. It will be sink or swim and classic car lovers will watch this sale with interest.
1934 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Spezial Roadster
The 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Spezial Roadster is the most-expensive car on offer at Bonhams and any auction at the 2021 Amelia Island sales. This Mereces-Benz, as well as several further cars in the sale is from the estate of the late Howard Farfard that included many fine pre-war and Brass Era automobiles.
The Special Roadster was ordered new as a 500K to the unique specification of a Dr. Alfons Sack of Berlin, which included a plethora of chrome accents to the bodywork and a ‘waterfall’ front grille. Two years later, he also oversaw an engine upgrade, returning the Spezial to the Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart factory for the more powerful 540K unit to be fitted.
Had it not been rediscovered in the 1970s in a barn in Poznan, Poland by two Swedish car hunters, its history may have been very different. Although dismantled, it was complete, except for its fuel cap, and was subsequently restored to its former glory by its former custodian who owned it for more than 40 years. The Spezial was acquired by Mr. Fafard in Bonhams 2014 Mercedes Benz Sale in Stuttgart, where it was sold to benefit two Swedish charities for cancer and Alzheimer’s research. The price then was €3,105,000 million ($4.221,247 at the time of sale).
A 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Three Position Roadster with a rare British-made Windover coachwork is offered in the RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2021 sale with an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000.
1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost
The 1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost Open Drive Landaulette with coachwork by Barker & Co is the oldest surviving example delivered to Canada. Chassis 1120, has long been admired as one of the most authentic and original extant, having been carefully maintained and preserved with its mere five custodians over the course of its life, including notable collections such as that of pioneering enthusiast D. Cameron Peck and the Pennsylvania State Museum. It is the oldest to retain original coachwork that is not in a museum or long-term, institutional-type, private collection.
1928 Mercedes-Benz 630K ‘La Baule’ Torpedo
The 1928 Mercedes-Benz 630K ‘La Baule’ Torpedo is also from the Fafard Collection. The Ferdinand Porsche-designed 640K, the fastest road car of its time thanks to its 6.4-liter supercharged engine, was married to the high-quality barrel sided ‘torpedo’ convertible body by celebrated coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik to create the ‘La Baule’ variant.
One of only a handful of survivors, the Torpedo offered was delivered new to the USA. For many years, it was kept in the Los Angeles ‘Pacific Auto Rentals’ collection, which supplied motor cars to the Hollywood movie studios, and had a cameo role in the film Under Suspicion. It later belonged to the Craven Foundation Collection in Toronto, before being acquired by Howard Fafard in 2016 for $973,500 in the Bonhams Scottsdale 2016 sale.
1913 Mercer Type 35 K Runabout
The 1913 Mercer Type 35 K Runabout is the lead car from the Lange Collection of Brass and Classic Era automobiles that will be on offer at the Bonhams Amelia Island 2021 sale. Around 400 were made but this Runabout is the only one with its original bodywork and externally shifted four-speed transmission.
One of the most revered motor cars of its day, the Type 35 Runabout was the luxury version of the legendary Type 35 Raceabout, one of the first race cars for the road which competed in early motorsport meetings as the Indy 500 and at Daytona.
The Runabout shared the same 108 inch-wheelbase chassis as its sibling as well as its revered ‘T-head’ 4-cylinder engine and the 1913 version also had the external 4-speed gearbox. However, it offered some comfort in the form of side doors, full windshield, a top and slightly raised steering column.
1933 Duesenberg Model J ‘Sweep Panel’ Dual Cowl Phaeton
The 1933 Duesenberg Model J ‘Sweep Panel’ Dual Cowl Phaeton with coachwork by Lagrande is also from the Lange Collection. ‘Category 1’ Certified by the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club this well-known example was fitted in the 1960s with a desirable original LaGrand Dual Cowl Phaeton Body, while its original Murphy Convertible Sedan body was fitted onto a different Model J.
The more desirable car at Amelia Island will be in the RM Sotheby’s auction: a 1929 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Torpedo by Murphy — it has a presale estimate of $3,500,000 to $4,000,000.
1934 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet
Another highlight of the Lange collection is a 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet. The first all-new Bugatti of the era designed by Jean Bugatti, son of the founder Ettore, the 57 was beloved of the international glitterati. This particular example is the only one to have had its bespoke coachwork designed by Carrosserie Franay, Paris-based coachbuilders, for its first owner, the German film star Hella Hartwich. It was later owned by French filmmaker Jean Rouch.
The Bugatti received a full $650,000 restoration between 2012-15, which is a hefty chunk of the presale estimate of $800,000 – $1,000,000.
Further Highlight at the Bonhams Amelia Island 2021 Sale
A few further highlights on offer at the Bonhams Amelia Island 2021 classic car auction include:
A 1912 Stutz Model A Bear Cat — the earliest surviving Stutz in existence and the 63rd Stutz built. This well-known motor car was restored by Stutz Club judge Raymond Drake.
A 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster — a rare export model delivered new with right-hand drive, and Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club Certified, this example is offered with no reserve.
The 1935 Godsal Sports Tourer with coachwork by Corsica — the sole eponymous prototype produced by engineer Charles Godsal, which won a Best in Class award at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2020.
Amelia Island Classic Car Auctions 2021
Amelia Island 2021 Auction Results
Amelia Island 2021 Auction Previews