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The Inaugural ModaMiami Concours Will Be a Disruptor in Extra Methods Than One

The Inaugural ModaMiami Concours Will Be a Disruptor in Extra Methods Than One

For nearly three decades, devotees of the automobile have made the same pilgrimage at the beginning of every March; convening on Florida’s Amelia Island to attend its namesake concours d’elegance. This year, though, is different; this year, the collector-car community is a house divided as the inaugural ModaMiami automotive festival, scheduled from February 29 through March 3, falls on the same weekend as its long-standing counterpart at Amelia. An unfortunate coincidence? A scheduling faux pas? Not quite. Actually, not at all.

Although the new four-day celebration of car culture, taking place at the famed Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla., will have many players once prominent at Amelia, it’s not building off the Amelia model. “We’re going to reinvent it,” says Rob Myers, the “RM” in auction house RM Sotheby’s, which has founded the nascent event. “We’re going to do something new and exciting.” What that translates to is a field of 150 show cars, complemented by scheduled drives, culinary experiences from renowned chefs, pop-up luxury venues, and even synchronized swimmers putting on shows in the Biltmore’s pool.

The ModaMiami concours will field 150 show cars competing via peer-to-peer judging.

ModaMiami

The elephant in the room, or rather on the show lawn, is the issue of timing. Motorsport is defined by intense competition, often fueling equally intense rivalries, but the rarified collector-car world always projected a sense of familial camaraderie. Now, it seems, the family just got dysfunctional, with enough discord to script a full season of reality TV, at least when hearing Myers recount the inspiration for ModaMiami.

“I did the Amelia Island [concours], with its founder Bill Warner, for 25 years. He would host the concours and RM Sotheby’s would host the auction at the Ritz-Carlton,” Myers tells Robb Report. “A couple of years ago, Hagerty insurance asked us about potentially partnering on Amelia Island because Bill Warner was wanting to retire and sell the show. We discussed it, but it was a lot of money . . . and I didn’t understand how the show could be worth that, so I declined on purchasing it.” Fair enough, but that set the stage for what may have resembled the 1961 “palace revolt” at Ferrari, only now at RM Sotheby’s.

Rob Meyers, the "RM" in auction house RM Sotheby's, host of ModaMiami.

Rob Myers, the “RM” in auction house RM Sotheby’s, host of ModaMiami.

ModaMiami

Myers explains that, unbeknownst to him, his right-hand man and the owner of Hagerty joined forces and made the deal that Myers was unwilling to pull the trigger on. “My ex-president, along with a few past employees, started their own little gig called Broad Arrow Auctions . . . so that means I’m going to get the boot out of Amelia. I found the Biltmore Hotel, and Miami is an international city, so here we are, doing ModaMiami.” As for deciding to choose the same dates as the other concours, Myers candidly explains that he “didn’t like the way Hagerty bought Amelia” and wanted to “give people an option,” though he adds, “plus, when we went to the Biltmore, it was one of the very few dates available.”

A rendering of what is envisioned for the first ModaMiami concours at the Biltmore Hotel Miami-Coral Gables in Florida.

A rendering of what’s envisioned for the concours lawn at the Biltmore.

ModaMiami

As for what ModaMiami attendees can expect, the concours will feature automotive exotica across categories that include the American Dream, showcasing 1950s models; Superstars, spotlighting cars with a celebrity tie; Eureka Early Motoring, presenting examples from the start of the automotive age; Back to the Future, an assemblage of youngtimer cars; It’s Only Original Once, comprising provenance-rich vehicles; and Curator’s Choice, unexpected rarities and crowd-pleasers selected by ModaMiami’s committee.

Among the apex machines adorning the grounds will be such unicorns as a 1966 Ferrari 365P and a 1998 McLaren F1 “LM Specification.” And as for provenance, it’s going to be hard to find anything that surpasses the 1954/55 Mercedes-Benz W 196 R Formula 1 car campaigned by Juan Manuel Fangio, which will be displayed next to his 300 SL Roadster (offered in a private sale through RM Sotheby’s in 2022). But perhaps most notable and impressive will be the assortment of cars that have all won Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. These will include the 1933 Delage S deVillars Roadster that claimed the title in 2010, and the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster that took the top honor last year.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster that once belonged to racer Juan Manuel Fangio

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster that once belonged to racer Juan Manuel Fangio will be on hand.

Tim Scott, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

After sating the appetite for sheetmetal art, attendees can expect their fill of exclusive dining options, including a culinary experience on March 1 with chef Mario Carbone, who has done similar one-off presentations during the Miami Grand Prix.  Also on hand will be a temporary extension of Miami’s private members club Casa Tua, open at the Biltmore throughout the weekend.  And to start the festivities, an invite-only drive session will take place at the Councours Club’s private racetrack.

Besides the stellar selection of automobiles exhibited, ModaMiami’s commonality with other leading concours is the auction component, though now solely presented through RM Sotheby’s. At their swan-song sale at Amelia last year, Myers and his team did $62.3 million in sales with an 89 percent sell-through rate. When asked about the cars on offer in Miami, Myers is assuredly optimistic. “I think we’re going to have a great sale; we have some great product and we’re going to have a two-day auction—Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon.

The Aqualillies synchronized swim team will be performing shows at the Biltmore’s pool during ModaMiami.

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Gray Malin, courtesy of Aqualillies

When it comes to the current state of the collector market, Myers is equally confident. “It’s very healthy,” he says, “we sold just under $1 billion in 2023, and we’ll probably do the same this year.” Among the lots set to cross the block in Miami are a 1966 Porsche 906 Carrera ($1.8 million to $2.2 million), a 1967 Ferrari 365 California Spyder ($4 million to $4.5 million), and a 2018 Bugatti Chiron ($3.2 million to $3.8 million).

A 1966 Porsche 906 Carrera.

This 1966 Porsche 906 Carrera will be among the lots crossing the auction block through RM Sotheby’s in Miami.

Brian Rozar, courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

One question remains: Is this all born from a case of sour grapes? “It’s not really sour grapes, not at all,” says Myers about his response to Hagerty and his replacement by Broad Arrow. “I’ve seen them all come and go in the past—I’ve been in this business forever.”

That may be true, but there is now an undeniable tear in the fabric that binds this niche tribe, with mainstays like Gooding & Company and Bonhams continuing to hold auctions at Amelia this year, and concours entrants and attendees forced to choose which exhibition to support. Ironically, RM Sotheby’s is pushing back against the very legacy it was so instrumental in creating at Amelia, while it hopes to turn the key on a new one. Says Myers, “I think we can do some amazing things in Miami and put some new life into these concours—some action.” It’s hard to doubt that. After all, it hasn’t even started yet and there’s already been plenty of drama.

Source: Robb Report

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