Porsche. There is no substitute.
That immortal marketing line used in the classic 1980s movie Risky Business rings even truer today in both the gearhead and car collector worlds. At the Amelia Island Auction in Florida on March 12, comedian Jerry Seinfeld parted with 16 of his treasured Porsches for a total of more than $22 million.
Some highlights: His blue 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder (above, photo by Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Co.) went for $5.3 million, the 1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder went for $3 million, and the 1974 911 Carrera 30.0 IROC RSR Coupe sold for $2.3 million.
Prior to the auction, Seinfeld said he had never bought a car as an investment. “I don’t really even think of myself as a collector,” Seinfeld said in a statement. “I just love cars. And I still love these cars. But it’s time to send some of them back into the world, for someone else to enjoy, as I have.”
The iconic comic definitely put a smile on the face of the new owners, as well as some jingle into his own pocket.
Seinfeld wasn’t the only big draw at the auction, nor was his the only big take.
A red 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California SWB Spyder (above, photo by Mathieu Heurtault, courtesy of Gooding & Co.) sold for $17.2 million, a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 SC Sports Tourer sold for $9.7 million and a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Convertible Coupe went for $2.6 million.
Total sales at the Amelia Island Auction were $134 million, with a sell-through rate of 65% and an average sale price of $437,834. The 2015 Amelia Island Auction brought in $115 million, with an 87% sell-through rate and average price of $324,466. This was a good year, showing a healthy market in collectible cars overall and Porsches in particular.
Some collectors were cautious before the auction because of what they called a “feverish run-up” of collectible car prices the last few years and felt the market had plateaued.
“There wasn’t a lot of discretion,” says Reid Bertolotti, whose family has been collecting cars for three generations. He’s echoed by others who say that those who purchased overpriced, less desirable cars the last few years would feel the resale pain most.
After the Amelia Island Auction, Bertolotti noted: “The market certainly appears to be strong for the right cars. The prices obtained, both low and high, were warranted based on the overall quality and integrity of the cars. I also think there were premiums placed on some of the Seinfeld cars based on his ownership.”
Most likely he’s right. One of the aspects that goes into pricing a collectible car is its provenance, or history of ownership, including how many owners it has had, who those owners were and even if the car was raced. Tyler Gagnon, whose firm Gooding & Co. handled the Seinfeld sales, says those sales set five world records.
Alain Squindo, chief operating officer of RM Sotheby’s, notes, “What really makes a car collectible is its marquee (brand), originality/condition and provenance…. Knowing a car’s complete history, along with having the factory-issued paperwork or original documentation to back it, can certainly add value.”