Birmingham, Brooklands and Bond Street
Birmingham, Brooklands and Bond Street
That would be a wonderfully alliterative introduction to the madness that has been the November / December auction scene but that would be to deny the inclusion of the tongue twisting Duemila Ruote from RM Sotheby’s in Milan. And we haven’t finished yet – there are Coys, H & H at Chateau Impney and a Bonhams Olympia to come!
To put some scale into it, since Silverstone opened the batting at the NEC on 12th November – 286 cars have been sold in the UK and the tills have rung up over £13 million whilst RM on their own accounted for 420 complete cars and over 47.5 million euros.
So at least for now, one can say that the classic car business is in rude health and, having seen how financial markets seem to lurch at the sniff of a rumour or large scale stock sale, it is pleasing to see that the results from Milan were good. With every lot being offered with “No Reserve” and some very low estimates, the preliminary judgement was almost of a fire sale. But take a selfish, Aston Martin, perspective and you see a frankly scruffy DB2 Drophead making 504,000 euros, a DB7 GT selling for 84,000 euros whilst another DB7, a Vantage Volante, making 58,240 euros. There were other Astons in the inventory and they are included in the following table of Aston Martin results. So no fire sale prices there!
The sheer volume of cars may have a longer term impact on Porsche, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo which seemed to dominate the catalogue but RM Sotheby’s deserve high praise for the work they put into that giant sale.
And praise too for Historics for their marketing – unlike Silverstone at the NEC or RM in Milan, they did not have a major event to draw the crowds or build an inventory – again, just bloody hard work. But, as an event, they were partly victims of their own success. There were too many people, in fact there were concerns from their hosts, Mercedes Benz World, about the distribution of the crowds.
Added to those crowds were two other issues – the PA system was inadequate, a situation not helped by Edward Bridger Stille’s bad throat. The second auctioneer relied more on his Sergeant Major delivery but his staccato bid taking had an impatience about it and then the third auctioneer reverted to the barely audible.
The internet has become an important tool in the bidding process and too often, the auctioneer would say that the internet bid on his screen did not match what his colleagues were telling him. Does this matter? Well in a subsequent conversation with a potential online bidder, he told me that the event lacked enough certainty to encourage him to participate. So there is still work for Historics to do on their event management.
Aston Martin were well represented but the results remain mixed – a DB7 GTA sold for an outstanding £56,000 reflecting the “bounce” in DB7 values whilst the Virage still struggles for acceptance and the manual example presented was cracking value at £30,800. From our perspective lucky strike of the day must go to the Seller of what was billed as a V8 “Volante” and the parentheses are theirs, not mine! It was V8 saloon which was one of seven converted to Dropheads by Daytona, last seen by us advertised in Burgundy in 2015, it has a new coat of Green paint but a poor and over conolised interior – estimated at £67.000 - £78,000, it sold for £113,120 – happy Seller, not sure for the Buyer.
In contrast,the Bond Street Sale in December has increasingly become more of a celebration statement than a sale but the rare prospect of a POW V8 Volante and a gorgeous pair of Zagatos was enough temptation to brave Oxford Street’s Christmas mayhem.
Stunning presentation and famous faces in the audience did little to disguise what was a disappointing result overall with a 70% sales rate. Last year’s astonishing result on an XK150 Drophead proved unrepeatable but possibly the most recognisable bidder in the room, Richard Biddulph, drew both applause for his winning bid of £561,500 on a Rolls Royce as well drawing the following epithet from auctioneer, James Knight as “The only man brave enough to wear a claret fedora at a car sale!”
For Aston Martin, the POW V8 made £651,500 (hammer price £580,000) which fell just short of bottom estimate but seems bang on value. The DB7 Zagato had tremendous interest with 3 phone bidders, 1 online and 2 in the hall and neared its upper estimate with £309,500 (£275,000 on the hammer). Less enthusiasm for the DB4 on sale – bid to £290,000 on the day, the results show a sale but not the price! The 2013 Zagato V12 made a bid of £440,000, described as “close” by James Knight, but still failed to sell.
About to depart Historics on the Saturday afternoon, I met an old motor trade acquaintance and said that I was trying to make some sense of the market right now. “Well you won’t make any sense from this” he said nodding back toward the sales rostrum. And he is right – it is a strong Buyers’ market right now with no discernible pattern.
We have been tracking all the sales since the middle of the year and when we report back on those three remaining sales, we will report on any perspectives that the analysis of 6 months and over 2,600 auction lots can offer. We will also offer our thoughts on an interesting trend that is coming in the wake of sales where cars are offered in Ebay fashion “Buy it Now for……”
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