5 cars at the Amelia Island auctions that you'll probably never see again
Events like Amelia Island gather all kinds of classics that are beautiful, historically significant, fast and often all three. This of course applies not just to the concours but to the auctions as well, where many of the cars on offer are not only gorgeous and valuable but also extremely rare. Strolling the auction previews in Amelia Island is a unique experience, whether you’re shopping or just dreaming, because there are cars on offer there that you might just never see again unless you’re the winning bidder. This year is no exception, and there are 10 in particular that are definitely not the kind of thing to come up for sale every day.
1964 Sabra GT Coupe
Presale estimate: $80,000 - $100,000
When you think of great car-building nations, Israel probably doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Yet, an Israeli company called Autocars did build cars for over twenty years, and called their little sports car the Sabra. Having nothing to do with the delicious hummus we know and love today, the word Sabra means cactus and is also slang for someone born in Israel. The UK’s Reliant was actually responsible for much of the Sabra’s design and construction, while the engine was a 1.7-liter four out of the Ford Consul. 379 were built during the 1960s, with 144 of them coming to the United States. Apparently, the Sabra was particularly popular in Belgium, where over 80 Sabras were sold, and the example offered by Bonhams originally belonged to the wife of the Belgian Israeli Consulate General.
1964 Peel P50
Presale estimate: $75,000 - $100,000
The Isle of Man is another place not normally associated with car manufacturing, but a Manx company called Peel Engineering was actually responsible for the world’s smallest production automobile. Designed as a city car that could carry one person (and not much else), the Peel P50 had a 4.5-hp two-stroke engine and a top speed of 37, but it could get up to 100 mpg and you could park it pretty much anywhere. Despite the P50’s appeal, particularly to European urbanites, microcars were falling out of fashion by the 1960s and just 50 were built. According to RM Sotheby’s, only 26 are thought to still exist, although production of new built-to-order P50s started again in 2010.
1958 Porsche 597 Jagdwagen
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $350,000 - $425,000
People who know a thing or two about Porsche’s early history might remember that they built diesel tractors, but a much more obscure vehicle is the ill-fated Type 597 Jagdwagen, which basically translates to “hunter’s car”. When the German military was seeking a capable light duty vehicle, Porsche threw their hat into the ring against Borgward and Auto Union for a contract. The four-wheel drive, amphibious Jagdwagen featured Porsche/VW suspension and a single carb, air-cooled flat-four that was basically a detuned 356 motor. It was a capable little thing that could climb a steep 60 percent grade, but the German government went with a simpler, cheaper design from DKW instead. Porsche sold a few dozen to the public and moved on. 71 were built and, according to Gooding & Company, only about 15 still exist today. The example on offer at Amelia Island is one of the 16 Jerry Seinfeld cars, and while it’s certainly not the prettiest, most significant or fastest, it’s still one of the most interesting and rare Porsches that will be auctioned this coming weekend.
1932 Ruxton Model C
Presale estimate: $375,000 - $450,000
Along with the Cord L-29, the Ruxton was America’s first front-wheel drive production car. Ruxton was a featured class at Pebble Beach in 2014 and 16 of them were present on the lawn. At first glance, then, it might have seemed that Ruxtons aren’t all that rare, but those were 16 of the approximately 19 Ruxtons surviving today and 96 total that were originally constructed. By comparison, Cord made over 4,000 L-29s. Front-wheel drive allowed the Ruxton to sit considerably lower than other cars of the period, and several examples (including this one) were given a “rainbow” paint scheme by Joseph Urban that made the car appear even lower and longer than it already was.
1973 Porsche 917/30
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $5,000,000 - $7,000,000
After they won overall at Le Mans in 1970 and 1971 with the 12-cylinder 917K, Porsche decided to campaign the car in North America’s Can-Am championship. In order to make it competitive with the then-dominant McLarens, though, Porsche turbocharged the flat-12 and fitted spider bodywork. The resulting 917/10 dominated Can-Am in the 1972 season. For 1973, Porsche further tweaked the design with the 917/30, and in qualifying trim the 917/30 could make over 1,500 hp. With Mark Donohue at the wheel, Porsche again dominated in 1973 and at the time Donohue called it the perfect racecar. The one on offer in Amelia Island, one of six built, was sold new in Australia and never raced in anger, but it is nevertheless one of the top cars from the Seinfeld collection.