We always look forward to the market’s energetic return after the Summer break and this year the first two weeks of September got everyone in the swing with major auctions from Bonhams and RM.
Bonhams got the ball rolling with their annual appearance at the Beaulieu Autojumble with a large and mixed inventory. There were three Astons entered in the sale and, with its inventory targeted at the “popular” end of the classic car market, the results were not good. A 1969 DBS and a 1990 Virage saloon, both failed to sell while a DB7 Vantage Volante made just £18,975 including premium. All three were not given the best chance with the DB7 especially, being rather under described.
Seven days later, all the headlines at a wet Goodwood Revival will be the near £6 million paid for an ex Scuderia Ferrari 1935/36 Alfa Romeo Grand Prix car. There were three Astons in this sale and, as if to prove the point, a 1970 DBS Vantage Saloon made a creditable £49,450 while a buyer paid £147,100 for a White DB Mark III showing that properly presented and described cars will sell. The same could not be said of a DB5 with a catalogue correction noting replacing one non-original engine number with another. To make premium money, these cars have to be right in every aspect.
Sandwiched in between these two events was RM’s traditional London sale at Battersea Evolution. A month earlier than normal, there was another break with tradition when the sale was conducted over two nights. On Sunday 8th September, as well as providing their normal hospitality and the opportunity to preview the sale, RM auctioned a private collection of Mercedes motor vehicles.
It was a little strange as the auction crowd was a little thin and the normal frenetic bidding atmosphere absent. Max Girardo earned his money that night with a virtuoso performance on the rostrum charming, cajoling and bullying the bids out of a sometimes reluctant audience.
Life was easier for him on the Monday evening when the focus was on a more varied inventory – from a James Bond underwater Lotus to a pristine BMW Bubble Car - the evening had everything. The Lotus sold for £616,000 and the Bubble Car for over £30,000 but the star turns did not quite reach expectations – a D type with a bid of £4 million was £1 million short on estimate – a Ferrari 275 GTB/C and a Maserati Birdcage also failed to sell even after attraction multi million pond bids.
But RM won the battle of the DB Mark III’s with a left hand drive example whose scruffy interior was compensated by the knowledge that it was one of 2 known examples with a DBC race engine. The car made £184,800.
All the sales had their hits and their misses but the market is clearly back in form with substantial funds available for the right cars but a market that is sufficiently educated to understand the right price to pay.