Post-block sales boost RM Sotheby’s to 100 percent sell-through at Amelia Island

'Blue Train' Bentley reproduction sells after the block | RM Sotheby's photo
‘Blue Train’ Bentley reproduction sells after the block | RM Sotheby’s photo

It turns out that the RM Sotheby’s classic car auction at Amelia Island was even better than reported.

At the auction, Max Girado hammered all but two of 101 lots “sold.” But that was on the block. RM Sotheby’s reported Thursday that both of those lots sold in post-block deals, which the auction company says makes its Amelia Island auction its first multi-consignor sale since Hershey in 2010 to have a 100 percent sell-through rate. (Post-block sales made within five days of the actual auction can be included as part of the official auction results.)

During the auction, a 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 S convertible (Lot 114) was bid to
$460,000, well shy — by $90,000 — of its lowest pre-auction estimate, while the 1930 Bentley “Blue Train” recreation (Lot 169) was bid to $480,000, also short of its lowest pre-auction estimate of $550,000.

In both cases, those bids also were less than the owners’ reserve prices on the cars.

“A 100 percent sell-through rate for a multi-owner consignment auction is a rare occurrence in the collector car auction industry and reflects not only our team’s client service orientation and commitment to achieving the best results for our consignors, but also the depth and expertise of our specialist team,” RM Sotheby’s said in announcing the post-block sales.

“The RM experience does not end when the final gavel drops.”

The Blue Train Bentley recreation was completed last fall on a 1950 Bentley Mark VI chassis and looks like the streamlined Gurney Nutting coupe owned by Capt. Joel Woolf Barnato, who in 1930 was one of the original “Bentley Boys,” a two-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, scion of South African diamond and gold mining interests, and chairman of Bentley.

Barnato and others were in Cannes, France, and were discussing a Rover advertisement that claimed the Rover Light Six was faster than the famed Le Train Blue. Barnato said his Bentley Speed Six could beat the train, placed a wager and with a co-driver left Cannes at the same time at the train was heading north to London.

Despite several problems along the route, the drivers reached London even before the train had arrived for its ferry ride across the English Channel.

Barnato won his bet, but he was fined more than that amount for racing on public roads. Bentley also was banned from showing its cars at the 1930 Paris auto salon.

But as the RM Sotheby’s auction catalog noted, it was not the Gurney Nutting coupe that won that race — and was memorialized in newspapers, magazines, in Terence Cuneo’s commemorative painting, and even in the reproduced car offered at Amelia Island.

The Gurney Nutting fastback Bentley was still under assembly when a black, fabric-covered and “unassuming” Bentley sedan built by Mulliner beat the blue train in a race across Europe.

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