As is the case with the vehicles that cross their blocks, not all car auctions are created equal. And Gooding & Company’s annual Amelia Island Auction at Florida's beachfront Omni Amelia Island Plantation is in a
lane league of its own.
A one-day affair that occurs on the Friday before the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, the auction is a must-go event for Porsche nuts, but routinely offers plenty of other enticing selections that will appeal to motorheads of different marques. In advance of this year’s auction — which is being held the morning of March 8 — Gooding & Company president and founder David Gooding shared a 12-pack of tips about the proceedings.
1. At Amelia, you can get up close and personal with your dream car.
“The great thing about being there is you actually get to see the cars there in front of you and study them, see all the nuances of their condition and their accompanying items. We have an archive area where you can look through the paperwork and everything that accompanies the car, the spare parts and everything. [You can] haave one of our specialists walk you through the car: put you in it, sit in it, crawl all over it, hear it run … If you’re serious about it, we’ll bend over backward to show it to you and everything that goes with it.”
2. If you are a bidder, being in attendance has its perks.
“It’s exciting to actually witness the market speaking live and in real-time. Also, if you’re there and bidding, you can see what’s going on in the room much better. We have a great webcast, but there’s only so much our cameras can cover, and there are certain people we’re not permitted to cover because they don’t want to be filmed bidding ... We do have some people, very active clients and bidders, who will come to the auction and spend a day or two viewing the cars then go back to their hotel room for the bidding.”
3. Don’t be surprised to see a bidding war break out.
“It’s exciting. It is very much a competitive atmosphere. There is tension. There is excitement. And that’s what we love about the business. We don’t know when that car rolls up on the stage how it's going to perform. We don’t know who is going to bid on it or if there is going to be a bidding war. That’s really fun and interesting to witness. Sometimes you also don’t know who is interested in a car — people come out of the woodwork.”
1930 Packard 734 Speedster Runabout
4. There’s no such thing as a dumb question at Amelia.
“The main thing I think people don’t do enough of is to ask us questions. If they want to just watch and attend, that’s great. Everyone who walks through the door does not have to be a bidder. But if you are interested in a car, come see us, talk to us, ask us about the cars. We do a lot of work on our catalogues and lots of research, but oftentimes we’ll learn something more about the car after they are printed. The old owner will find some additional paperwork or there might be a photo of the car that turns up. It won’t be in the catalogue, but we’ll know.”
5. That person with tears in their eyes? That’s the seller.
“It varies, but usually the seller is on-site. Sometimes it is quite emotional for them, so they don’t want to be there. We’ll also have people who’ve owned the car in the past but want to come and see it go across the block. We don’t necessarily even know they’re coming, but they’ll show up and tell us their story. We love hearing that stuff. To us, these cars are so much more than the object. The human history behind them is important.”
6. The forecast will be cloudy with a chance of Porsches. A strong one.
“We’ve been known for selling Porsches at Amelia Island so that marque is strong and present as ever at the auction. You’ll also see a good representation from Ferrari as well as BMW and Jaguar. We’ve got a good mix.”
1967 Porsche 911 2.0 S
7. Amelia is its own breed of auction.
“Amelia is a one-day auction and we are down there because of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, and that Concours is very different than, say, the Pebble Beach Concours. People like to make direct comparison, but they’re different. Amelia has much more of a race-car flair and much more of a Porsche flair, because the marque and its enthusiasts have a presence there. We like the one-day sale. It’s much more compact and easier to move around than at other auctions.”
8. When you aren’t watching cars, watch the people.
“I’m continually encouraged by people who aren't car people but enjoy coming to see the cars and watch the economics of the event and the competitive bidding atmosphere. It’s an interesting study in human dynamics watching these really passionate collectors look at cars and figure out if they are interested in them. It’s fun. As an observer, just looking at the cars is one thing, but watching the people is also really interesting.”
9. You don’t need deep pockets to enjoy Amelia.
“We try to put in something for everyone. We do have different price categories. There are many cars under $100,000 — those cars are all without reserve. Newer, older, quite contemporary … we try to offer a broad range of cars from different eras.”
1992 Porsche 964 Carrera RS
10. If you want to sit in a multi-million dollar car, just ask.
“Because these cars are oftentimes bringing in pretty staggering numbers and the values are pretty high, people think they are not welcome to them. We want to make the point that if you’re an enthusiast, you’re more than welcome to attend our events, watch our events, follow us … we encourage that. Don’t be intimidated, even if you’re not participating at the price level. Car people love to talk and share their cars and are often very open about it. They’ll let you sit in their multi-million dollar car if they can see you are genuinely interested. They’re happy to share.”
11. At Amelia, be on the hunt for originals.
“I’m a big believer in condition. Originality, I think, is always something I’m looking for. If it’s between something restored and something original, I would always go original, because restorations are often not done as well as they were at the factory. With restored cars, I like ones that have been restored for multiple years and have had time to age. You can really see how they were done and if they were done well.”
12. If you plan to bid, go with your gut.
“I tell people to follow their heart. Go with what grabs them first and then find something in that range. Don’t put a square peg into a round hole. If you want a Porsche, you should really probably go in that area unless something else really captivates you in a way you didn’t expect. But listen to your heart. Don’t think just about investment. If it’s just an investment, go put money in the stock market. You should be getting some pleasure out of this investment. It’s supposed to be fun and something you can share with your loved ones.”
Main image via Gooding and Co.