Because they serve two masters, the Buyers and the Sellers, auctions are always presented with a quandary when building a catalogue. It is the issue of establishing estimates – they want to set them low to attract Buyers but know that if they set them too low, the Sellers will be reluctant to commit their car to the sale.
Some will overcome this by setting attractive estimates for Sellers but offering the cars with No Reserve thereby inferring to Buyers that there are bargains to be had. But these are tactics when building a catalogue, sometimes months in advance of a sale where markets can change in the intervening period.
So when there are a flurry of sales, as there have been this week, the later auctions must inevitably react to market intelligence.
Accordingly, we saw two organisations react in different ways – Historics had been the pathfinders on Saturday and found that the market was there but bidding well under estimate and they worked like Trojans with their clients to make sales happen on the day.
On Tuesday evening, Coys had worked in two ways – improved ambience in the hall helped by lashings of wine, sandwiches and mince pies. They had also clearly spoken to Sellers and achieved a smooth and consistent sales rate – albeit mainly shy of estimate. There were plenty of high value cars and a 1929 Bentley selling in the room at a hammer price of £570,000 shows there are strong Buyers about, but its estimate of £580,000 - £700,000 illustrates the issue.
For Aston Martin, there was a beautifully presented DB Mark III that found a new home at a hammer price of £145,000 only just short of its top estimate.
The next day, H & H held a sale at the imposing Chateau Impney in Worcestershire. They appeared to have done less work since Saturday’s market signpost and we had their now familiar litany of “Provisional Sales” as the hammer came down time and again short of estimate. And the comment made in our earlier report about DB7’s was held out when a 1995 6 cylinder DB7 was sold provisionally at just £10,000 on the hammer while a 1998 Dunhill Limited Edition car went provisionally again for a poor £13,000.
Better news on a lovely V8 Series III in a Pale Metallic Blue with a good history, the car sold in the room for its top estimate, a hammer price of £34,000. They also had a nice Feltham car – a three grille DB2 that they had estimated at £320,000 - £360,000. They started at £220,000 and went in £10,000 increments to a “Provisional Sale” at a disappointing £270,000.
All the sales were well attended – importantly there were plenty of buyers on hand – but it is clear that this year’s sales were kinder to buyers than sellers on price but the acid test of quality will prove whether the lottery of auction buying has delivered true value.