After a very average sale at Historics followed by a reportedly mediocre effort by H & H at Newbury, we approached Coys annual Ascot offering with a sense that perhaps the classic car market was falling – it was a mood not helped by an apocalyptic hail storm as we arrived and the low numbers of people there an hour before the sale.
Fortunately a delay in the start of the sale, to allow a certain celebrity buyer to get through the traffic, saw the audience swell and it was good to see a phalanx of Coys’ staff on the telephones.
In fact, Coys themselves deserve a pat on the back because their telephone activity gave the bidding some energy and they had obviously worked hard with their clients since the publication of the catalogue to establish achievable reserves often substantially below the published estimates.
This was seen on the very first car lot – a beautifully presented MGA with a published estimate of £18-22,000 that was sold for £16,000. And that set the tone with a very overpriced Mini Pickup and a very average Mercedes Fintail saloon being the first failures on the day.
First Aston Martin was an uncatalogued late entry – a deceased’s sale of a one owner 1971 DBS V8 Automatic. Presented in Dark Blue with Black upholstery, its topside condition, which was poor, was balanced by the fact that the sills and underside had all been renewed. It made a very creditable £19,000. This contrasted wildly with a 1953 DB2/4. Wrongly catalogued as a Fixed Head Coupe, this was a standard car, superbly restored with the exception of the body that was presented in bare polished aluminium. The catalogue and auctioneer said that the car could be left like that or painted to a new owner’s colour choice. But that was not realistic as there was not a smooth panel on the car – so the unsuccessful bid of £76,000 was probably a good shout!
The final Aston was a left hand drive Vantage Supercharged – well presented with just 10,500 kilometres, it gave good value to the buyer at a hammer price of £70,000. These Supercharged cars are great value but cannot be overpriced.
The star of the show, an ex Jenson Button Enzo Ferrari went to a telephone buyer at £875,000 - in fact the telephones were a star turn in terms of sales and, in the case of a 1951 Mercedes Cabriolet, perhaps guilty of a certain amount of smoke and mirrors. Two telephone bidders had apparently conducted a vibrant bidding war that took the car from £27,000 to £35,000 in £1,000 increments – then a bid in the hall took the price to £35,500 and the telephones threw in the towel!
But overall it was a good day and Chris Evans paid back the sale’s patience buying a 1976 MGBGT V8 for just £13,000 – not a Ferrari or a tractor but a good old English classic. The market is safe for a while yet.