Unlike their auction at the end of 2014 at the same venue, there was room to breathe at Lindley Hall last night, in fact the audience was positively sparse. Whether it was the smaller crowd or a degree of familiarity with some of the inventory, there was a definite lack of energy in the room.
After a low key start with a Lamborghini marine engine, a Beetle Convertible, a Ferrari 400 and a 1980’s Porsche, the first Aston Martin was a familiar face. The Suffolk Red Virage with less than 1,000 miles had missed the boat on its first outing at H & H last October and with an unchanged estimate, last night’s result was the same with the car being bid to just £52,000 – it is a great car that deserves better than being an also ran in the auction circuit!
Things perked up a little with a beautifully restored VW Beetle and a sparkling Mini Cooper and it was soon time for the second Aston Martin. Brightwells made £45,000 last year on a wrongly described barn find AM Vantage so presenting the last production DBS 6 cylinder in similar circumstance might have delivered the same. So £37,000 on the hammer was a little weak and why oh why did Coys feel it necessary to emphasise the “barn find” aspect by scattering quite so much hay around the car. Look at the catalogue photos and there is nothing remotely agricultural.
The theatricals should have been reserved for lots like the Gold Leaf liveried Lotus 59. For a car with a serious track history and a more recent starring role in the film Rush, there was plenty of opportunity to create a real sense of occasion – instead it was “just another lot” that remained unsold at £81,000. There were sparks of excitement, for example a well restored Series 1.5 E type Roadster achieved a creditable £108,000 and a stunning 1935 Rolls Royce Drophead Coupe found a new home at £130,000.
The next Aston was a Burnham Green V8 Oscar India – dry stored since 2002, we spotted the car in December offered for sale at £65,000 by a dealer. Clearly it passed the market by and was offered by Coys with a reserve of £50 – 60,000 and the sale price of £54,000 may please the seller although the loud and lively bidding came from a Coys proxy bidder acting on a clear brief from an anonymous buyer rather than a commission bidder as suggested by the auctioneer.
Following on was an Aston catalogued as a V8 Vantage with an estimate of £68-80,000 even though the chassis number identified it as a standard car. The catalogue error had been noted and an appropriate saleroom notice published identifying it as a standard car uprated to Vantage specification. The Seller’s expectations had also been clearly re-aligned insofar as the hammer price was just £55,000.
Best value award in the sale was clearly deserved by the Rolls Royce Phantom VI that undershot its estimate to sell at a bargain £37,000. That sale preceded the final Aston of the evening, a beautifully restored DBS V8 that had come in from the Australian market. It was time for the Coys proxy bidder to re-appear and lead spirited bidding to the bottom estimate of £75,000 before retiring as the underbidder as the hammer came down at just £2,000 more – whatever his instructions, they must have been clear because there was no reference or hesitation in any of the bids, win or lose!
So it turned into another flat evening, with buyers there to buy specific cars but little activity on the telephones, and too sparse a crowd to really generate excitement and the sense of theatre that a successful auction relies upon.
Auction houses seem to expect a vibrant market to respond to mediocre inventories that fill a catalogue on any particular night. Preview the next Goodwood auction with its inventory of second rate repatriated Aston Martins with dubious histories and all in need of restoration – more a remake of Steptoe & Son than prestige marketing!
Vibrant markets attract all sorts of new players, some are young entrepreneurs coming in for the long haul and to build their business but others are brigands with sharp practices and short term profits in mind with no concern for buyers’ interests. For the professionals in our market, it is important that we maintain the standards that differentiate us from rest and support the long term health of our clients’ interests.
© BYRON INTERNATIONAL