Remote from Goodwood but close association
It was a demonstration of Lord March’s commitment to motor sport that the Goodwood Circuit echoed to the sound of classic racers and perhaps as brave of Bonhams to run an associated auction using the event as a platform.
That platform was a little surreal with the cars in Sussex and the auctioneer some 60+ miles away in the genteel calm of Bond Street. Your correspondent took the opportunity to join the armchair bidders rather than the brave souls at Goodwood or those who enjoyed the hospitality in Bond Street.
Those versed in the current trend of remote meetings through Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet will be familiar with the fundamental disconnect of a remote medium and perhaps it was this rather than the bloated inventory that made the afternoon seem so dull and perhaps contributed to a sales rate below 50%.
And nor were the sales achieved with sparkling prices – a scan of bids vs estimates tells a tale of its own – of course some special lots made good money but even the Ferrari 330 GTS at £1,120,000 (£1,269,400 with premium) showed a lack of confidence from of all places, the rostrum.
Normally such a bullish auctioneer, Jamie Knight moved to £10,000 increments very early meaning an interminably slow climb to the summit and perhaps an indicator that even he was giving ground to the buyers.
Being honest, it was a disappointing day for Astons of every generation – a Series I DB4 was first entrant with a “No Reserve” tag, very brave in this environment but the bid of £240,000 (£276,000 with premium) was not a disaster.
Next up was a 1973 V8 Saloon which made its modest reserve of £55,000 (£63,250 with premium) while a very pretty DB2/4 in Aston Green fell well short of its bottom estimate at £140,000 and did not sell. Similarly short of its estimate was a German registered V8 Volante Long Wheelbase but in this case, the bid of £70,000 (£72,083 with premium) was accepted!
Then it was onto the current Gaydon era cars with a 2015 Works LE Vanquish Volante – again well short of estimate with a bid of £140,000 it remained unsold as did a Newport Pagnell V8 Series II upgraded to 5.7 litre which was bid to £115,000.
The next entrant was a familiar old friend on the auction scene – a Wide Body Virage 6,3 Coupe in Red – bid to £42,000 (£48,300 with premium) she is off to a new home, a real value for money purchase. And as value for money goes, the 2006 DB9 Volante at £24,500 (£28,175 with premium) proved popular with bidders.
Less so the rather brightly coloured DB6 Volante whose bid of £510,000 was not enough nor was the £205,000 or £660,000 bid respectively for typically Silver DB6 and DB5 saloons from the same collection.
So Astons didn’t buck the trend but fared no better or worse than any other cars in the sale – but truly, the classic car business needs to take a real look at itself and get some strategic leadership in place.
Over the past decade or so, the auction houses established a comfortable position, perhaps too comfortable, as the market leaders in sales volume and market direction. Covid-19 has revealed the fragility of that position. Online auction platforms are usurping their dominance offering a gentler pace to the bidding process and, dare we say it, a more open one .
Lot 212 on Saturday was typical of the occasional mystery surrounding auctions – the 1952 Chevrolet Styleline Deluxe Coupe was offered for sale with no reserve. And no matter how low a suggested starting bid was proposed, there was no bid – yet the results show the car as sold!
At Byron International, we have always looked to add value in terms of service and will continue to do so – classified adverts or auctioneers intoning bid increments of poorly presented cars does not add value!
But the market needs more – politicians are being lobbied by the anti-car groups and our market needs to be ready to counter those siren voices and protect our clients’ investments and our industry.
For Aston Martin, one hopes that a new and pragmatic leadership who, understanding the dichotomy of our marque and the importance of its heritage will take the initiative and balance the future with a grand past.
In the meantime, we will continue to support our clients and offer regular perspectives of this strange market.
For full auction results follow the link:
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