A review of auction action for Aston Martin Lagonda as we return to normal
There has been a very long period when auction activity as we know it was curtailed with the onset of Covid-19. In its place came a hybrid of online ideas and new entrants to the market, but any resemblance to the cut and thrust of “proper” auctions with run bids, theatrics from rostrums or combative bidding was lost.
We have seen a gradual return of live auctions but we felt May was exceptional both for the volume of events and the number of Astons in the market so, with the help of some of our clients and online communication, we are able to offer an overview of the marque’s performance as well as some observations on the “new normal”
The action started right at the beginning of the month with Anglian Car Auctions – not a regular venue in our reports but, having brought a Lagonda Rapide to the market recently, one of our clients drew our attention to another of these rarities. But first through the block was a 1990 Virage – in spite of a reported expenditure of £27,000 by the previous owner, 8 keepers and extensive paint bubbling saw the car sold for £14,500 (£15,660 with premium).
The Lagonda Rapide had bills from Strattons for nearly £29,000 and even with rather bright yellow leather, a respectable £155,000 meant the buyer spent £167,400 with premium. Another Virage that had been seen previously at Historics sold at £24,000 (£25,920 with premium).
There was another Lagonda Rapide at Brightwells but in spite of a large restoration invoice, the modern automatic gearbox probably dissuaded Lagonda enthusiasts from bidding and the £90,000 bid (£100,800 with premium was ultimately a little disappointing.
Historics on 15th May offered 5 Astons – a number of them for the second or third time and there was more than a hint of a couple of run bids and three of the entries failed to find a buyer. One was a Virage Volante that may have benefited from its proper description as a “6.3 Cosmetic” but that is where specialisation in a marque is a benefit! But there were two sparkling results – the first a 1999 DB7 Vantage with just 2 owners, the winning bid of £33,000 (£37,356 with premium) reflected the old adage that quality sells! The second tick in the box came from a Series II DB4 that was on its third time round the block and was bid to £345,000 (£385,000 with premium) which was respectable in anyone’s book.
When Bonhams announced their inventories for Bond Street and the MPH Sale at Bicester, there was a sharp intake of breath from Aston Martin enthusiasts and dealers alike up and down the country. Both catalogues featured cars from an overseas collector, offered without reserve, with what appeared modest estimates and little in the way of histories.
First through at Bond Street was a 1980 V8 Oscar India – lovely to see Byron International acknowledged in the car’s background and the hammer price of £60,000 converted to £69,000 with premium. But as you note these prices, remember that if it stays in the UK, there is a 5% tax bill to pay and, like many of its fellows in the sale, the catalogue emphasised “may need re—commissioning”. So, if you are assessing the values of any of these cars, that price with commission is only a starting point – you are buying the opportunity to spend a lot more!
From a different source came the next Aston, a DB6 Mark 2 Saloon stated to have Aston Martin Assured Provenance but no proof as all records had been destroyed by fire! Again, requiring re-commissioning, the price of £190,000 (£218,500 with premium) was probably fair.
From the overseas collection came an original left-hand drive DB4 Series V - £200,000 (£230,000 with premium) seemed cheap but again that 5% and re-commissioning made the final outcome a gamble – in the same vein, another left-hand drive DB4, this time a Series II, from the same stable made £240,000 (£276,00 with premium). In contrast a DB6 Mark 2 on the same terms made £160,000 (£184,000 with premium).
With opportunities like these, there was a fair amount of banter between Jamie Knight on the rostrum and recognised trade interest – that DB6 Mark 2 was sold to a lady with Knight remarking that the car “Was due some TLC from RSW”. In fact, Neil Thompson had already been asked to pass comment on a GT40 and then was noted as the buyer of a 1981 left hand drive V8 Vantage that after some spirited bidding made £112,500 (£129,375 with premium).
That banter had an edge later when another character from the trade was encouraging Knight to bring the hammer down on a left-hand drive V8 Volante – “When it is your auction, you can have the gavel” was the pithy comment from the rostrum and his gavel came down at £85,000 (£97,750 with premium)
It was a varied sale that had started with a registration F 3000 and moved through Bugattis to Bentleys with an energy that probably helped the energy of the event. The best-looking Aston was a pre-war International Short Chassis Tourer that made £110,000 (£126,500 with premium) probably the best value for money was the “Triple Black” DB6 Volante that returned £370,000 (£425,500 with premium)
And with that it was off to the Midlands with two major sales – Bonhams MPH at Bicester and Silverstone Auctions, a little further up the M40. Followed on twin screens at home base, we are grateful to a couple of good friends of Byron International for some elements of local flavour.
Firstly, we should note that the Silverstone event was a kind of hybrid, offering buyers the opportunity to place bids online well before the event – a bit like the Goodings Geared Online events only Silverstone was going traditional on the hammer on the Saturday. And that in itself bring the issue of internet reliability in a live auction situation – both Bonhams and Silverstone experienced issues.
With Bonhams, sound and vision went out of kilter – recovered but disconcerting at the time. At Silverstone, as the first Aston made its debut, and as bidding began to progress through the twenty and thirty thousand, the screen froze and the connection was then lost as it passed £40k.
However, it was quickly recovered, only to discover the problem was actually more fundamental at the Auctioneer’s end. “The internet line has dropped” came the comment from the rostrum. “Proxy bids are not functioning and the screens are not updating.”
A short hiatus followed, but technical problems were soon resolved, and the Aston bid reset/updated to Mr Whale’s and his colleague’s satisfaction. However, it had rather stalled further progress on any subsequent bids and the V8 came to a halt at £43,000 (£48,375 with premium) and the car sold. That was a cheap car as in the words of one of our “friends” it has a 9” thick history fie and had been thoroughly restored. Did the IT issues cost the seller? Hard to say, it was one of the few “No Reserve” cars in their inventory and the incident soon forgotten.
We’ll stay with Mr Whale and his team because aside from that early V8 at lot 702, the Astons were helpfully clustered from lots 723 – 731 and can be summarised more easily. There was a real spread from modern to the Feltham era starting with a Black DB9 – the bottom estimate said £32,000 but the hammer came down at £29,500 (£33,187 with premium) and she was followed by a pair of classic Vanquishes, a 2002 version and a later 2007 model – with a top bid of £48,000, the 2002 car remained unsold as did the 2007 model that was bid to £90,000 – that was later corrected to a sale recorded at £100,000 including premium.
It was a different outcome for the next pair. Two 1966 DB6 Mk1s, both stalling at £10,000 under lower estimate, but declared sold at £170,000 and £175,000 at the hammer (£191, 250 and £196,875 respectively with premium)
The most elderly Aston on offer, a left-hand drive DB MkIII drop-head, was reportedly the first one sold new to a United States based owner. It appeared to rush to a bid of £220,000 and was declared “very close” – the veracity of that close bid has to be questioned with the published result of the car being sold at £218,000 including premium.
Another DB6, this time a Volante that was observed by our friend as having rather garish White leather and confirmed, as the catalogue stated, that the car needed recommissioning. Probably why it struggled to its selling bid of £338,000 (£380,250 with premium). Silverstone rounded up their Astons with a DB7 Vantage Volante and another DB9.
An interesting statistic coming from that sale derives from their choice to use YouTube as the streaming platform for the sale – it makes it easy to measure the interest in the sale which kicked off around 640/650 going on to peak at 750 but settle at an average of high 600’s.
So, let’s wind up with Bonhams MPH – we cannot pass by without mention of their presentation style. There were a male and female presenter who “welcomed in” each lot – nothing at all wrong with the idea. Historics liven their presentations with Vicki Butler Henderson and whilst she may fall short on auctioneering talent at least her presentation skills are professional.
The MPH effort was the opposite – trite, sniggery comments about “small tools” talking about restoration of an MG Midget were not professional and the lighting appalling. Note to Bonhams, proper lighting, scripted and rehearsed presentation will add value.
But the Aston section also started with a V8 Series III and given that this one had the potential penalty of recommissioning and a 5% tax levy, £57,000 on the hammer (£64,125 with premium) perhaps put a price on Silverstone’s IT hiccup.
Next was probably the real headline question mark for the trade – a DB6 Saloon offered with a low estimate of £60,000 – but even presented with odd colour wings, bidding took off jumping at one stage from £113,000 to £130,000 with a final winner at £136,000 (£153,000 including premium).
An aside during the bidding for the next DB6 offered a clue that news of the opportunities offered was spread wide. A comment of Czech bidding as the car got up to its top estimate of £150,000 (£168,750 with premium) – and remember all these are to be recommissioned and attract an extra 5% for UK buyers – the prices are healthier than at first glance. Emphasised by the final DB6 that was catalogued as upgraded to Vantage but a saleroom notice recorded that it was not fully upgraded and the Vantage engine was not original – it still made £158,000 (£177,750 with premium).
The final two cars, a DBSV8 for total restoration and a barn find V8 Series III lived up to their descriptions and yet were both sold above their top estimates.
The attached results sheet has all the numbers and descriptions of the cars for your records/reference including, where relevant, the 5%tax levy applicable if the car(s) remain in the UK. The market has missed the cut and thrust of the gladiatorial arena that live auctions provide and, for all their faults, it is good to see them back and with so many Astons being marketed at live auctions in a single month, it offers the opportunity to make some valid market observations.
First and foremost, comes provenance and history – Jamie Knight is not someone who it’s easy to feel sympathy for, but his plaintive description that a car had supporting paperwork – a copy of an old V5C registration document said it all.
The reality of these cars is that they all had identifiable backgrounds – Byron was mentioned as was Runnymede and others. A bit of hard work and investigation may have turned up a little more. History, provenance and value go together, it Is why we put so much effort into researching and logging everything we can.
The involvement of some identifiable trade players offers a clue to the opportunity that these cars offered – when you do the sums, it puts most of the DB6 prices, as finished articles, as probably in the upper reaches of the £200,000’s and the DB4’s maybe £50-60,000 higher. The gap up to DB6 Volantes seems to have narrowed but the rest seem in quite rude health.
As we move into summer and, hopefully a proper return to normality, there is every reason to be optimistic for Aston Martin and not just because Vettel got up to P5 at the Monaco Grand Prix – prices steady and demand coming back.
For full results, follow this link:
© BYRON INTERNATIONAL