in love at the Florida auction
It helps to be rich at Amelia
Island -- 312 breaks heart, but not pocketbook
AMELIA ISLAND, FLA.-I am a true romantic. I
believe in love at first sight. And it was on
a grassy knoll that I first laid eyes on what
I thought to be my destiny.
He was beautiful - in every sense of the
word. I found love under the preview tent here
in Florida at the RM Collector Car Auction.
The auction was part of the annual concours
d'élégance held here, and certainly the most
exciting part. Chatham, Ont.'s RM Auctions
Inc. has dealt with some of the most exclusive
and prestigious cars across the globe. Here
were throngs of beautiful collector cars -
from classics to modern, race and road cars of
all vintages, all for sale to the highest
shied away from auctions because of my fear of
scratching my head and accidentally buying
some white elephant. But it doesn't work that
way. To be able to bid on RM's collection, I
would have to register first, bidding either
in person, by telephone or on the Internet.
Being there in person proved to be more
exciting, as the energy spread through the
auction tent. I swore to keep my hands in my
pockets and not bring the American Express
card. I was safe until I saw my love: the 1972
Ferrari 312 PB.
Because of my unfamiliarity with evaluating
collector cars, earlier that day I'd signed up
for a seminar on the topic given by Keith
Martin of Sports Car Market Magazine.
Auction expert David Kinney led my group
around the preview to see first-hand what to
look for when wanting to purchase a
While Kinney doesn't pick apart any
vehicles, RM has the crème de la crème of the
automotive field here as examples. He points
out what can make a car more valuable, from
the look and condition of the car, to the
history and desirability.
My valuation is different. If I love the
car, it is priceless - a sign of true love. My
nostalgia for the Ferrari marque validated the
need for the 312 to be in my garage.
watched fellow bidders poke and prod my future
car until the time came for the auction to
begin. Off the lawn, the Ferrari is placed in
line. Slowly, it makes its way to the auction
tent, which is filled with enthusiastic
buyers, onlookers and fans.
Famed race car driver Brian Redman
introduces the 312 PB to the crowd. He gives
us an account of his meeting with Enzo Ferrari
himself, as a video shows the car racing in
its glory. If I end up owning this car, I will
be in the driver's seat that held such notable
racers as Jacky Ickx and Carlos Reutemann. The
current owner, a Puerto Rican Ferrari
enthusiast and collector, has restored it to
"better than new" condition.
Chassis number 0892 boasts a documented
history but, more importantly, it has the
glorious sound of Ferrari's racing flat 12.
The 2,992 cc alloy engine with twin overhead
camshafts and Lucas port injection howls 450
hp at 11,500 rpm. Its 650 kg comes from a
multi-tube steel chassis with riveted aluminum
panels that form a semi-monocoque.
Four-wheel disc brakes with vented rotors
are hidden behind Campagnolo magnesium road
wheels. It is a pristine example of this part
of Ferrari's racing heritage.
The bidding starts at a furious pace.
Auctioneer Peter Bainbridge keeps calm as the
price creeps up. One million dollars. A
million-two. The bids are now in $100,000
increments, and those are U.S. dollars. He is
respectful but persistent. He scans the crowd
of 1,500 for the buyer holding up his/her
card. It is standing room only here now.
My Ferrari 312 PB is now hovering at $1.6
million. A hush falls on the crowd as RM
auction founder Robert Myers is on the phone
with a customer. The reserve - the minimum
price the car will sell for - has not been
met. But we are so close.
pondered bidding $1.7 million, but after
buying lunch at the Ritz-Carlton, my pocket
book is empty.
"Going once," I hear Bainbridge call.
"Going twice," he adds and, with a pound of
his gavel, the Ferrari auction is finished.
I sit there defeated as I watch the car
move off the auction block. As luck would have
it, my love did not sell. A rarity, but
sometimes cars do not meet their reserve
RM Auctions had a respectable 80 per cent
sell rate at this auction and my Ferrari was
one of the few that did not find a new home.
My 312 PB is now in the secured garage
waiting to be packed up and shipped back to
his owner which, unfortunately, is not me. It
might yet be sold later in the day, though, as
these deals sometimes happen with the
I leave with a more healthy credit card
balance but, of course, a broken heart.
If $1 million is out of your league but you
still want to collect cars, the Toronto
International Spring Classic Car auction
presented by RM is here April 2-4 at the
International Centre in Mississauga.
In the course of three days, more than 450
cars are scheduled to be passing through, of
all shapes, sizes and prices.
If your wallet only allows you to bid on a
hamburger, think of the Spring Classic Car
auction as a unique auto show.
For the price of admission, the opportunity
is there for you to get car crazy and maybe
find a four-wheeled friend.
Who knows? I may find true love again after