Gooding & Company, Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, Florida, March 13, 2015
Gooding & Company’s sixth consecutive auction at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation showed a complete disdain for superstition: it was Friday the Thirteenth.
No slashers wielding machetes or aetherial ectoplasmic forms materialized in or near the Gooding tent village, although a somewhat supernatural rain deluge created an interlude that challenged rationality. The inundation quickly receded and a large crowd kept David Gooding and auctioneer Charlie Ross busy on the block. [There may be some skeptics who correlate adverse weather with auction success: it keeps the crowd in the tent paying attention to the cars and bidding.]
Gooding presented several of the ‘barn-find’ cars that have become regular highlights of its auctions. They bring handsome prices that often defy logic, but they are prized these days by a segment of the collecting community that often is willing to pay dearly for dirt, diametrically opposed to the often less than the cost of restoration prices that brilliantly restored cars bring.
There is a wide gulf between sound, well-preserved but aged barn-finds that proudly display the care and attention of generations of sympathetic owners and some of their scabrous, festering, peeling counterparts that evidence only loss of interest and neglect. Some bidders these days seem unable to perceive the distinction. It’s an observation that applies to all auctions, not just to Gooding’s.
Still, this is a business, and a good business caters to the desires of its customers. If they want dirt it is successful to give them dirt, even if it means that after a few more years of oxidation taking its inevitable toll a restoration is inevitable. At its completion any originality premium becomes inverted, evaporated into a cloud of restorer’s invoices.
At Gooding as well as at RM Sotheby’s Saturday sale collectors also paid sharp premiums for limited production, high performance cars, sometimes measured in multiples of the original retail price only a few years ago. It may be helpful to think of these burgeoning prices [use of the term ‘values’ seems ill-advised] as the sharp edge of new collector money cutting its way into the hobby. Late model limited production cars – as seen here exemplified by the Ferrari 599 SA Aperta, but also the flood of 2x-MSRP Ford GTs that are nearly ubiquitous – offer some comfort to the novice. They are pretty, rare, fast and make an immediately recognizable impression on colleagues and neighbors. They also have air conditioning that works, are serviced by a factory-authorized dealer network, and can be expected with a reasonable certainty to start and run with minimal attention to their electronically-controlled innards.
The fond (if so far unsubstantiated) hope is that exposure to the car collecting experience through ownership of these titans of modern technology will whet their newcomer owners’ appetites for further, and more adventurous, experiences.
The Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance has grown steadily – as a few hours on the fairways on Sunday morning made abundantly clear – to include the better part of a week’s activities and a vast gathering of manufacturer [this year including a huge display by Alfa Romeo to introduce its 4C and reinforce the marque’s history] and vendor displays. Gooding & Company’s auction at the Plantation is an essential element that mirrors in many ways the rapid growth and appeal of the car collecting hobby.
Here are the numbers:
Andrew Newton contributed immeasurable to this auction report; the observations and comments are the editor’s responsibility.
Gooding and Company Amelia Island 2015 – Auction Report