There is only one way to describe the auction at Ascot Racecourse last Saturday – a marathon! The sale started promptly at 09.30 am and the last lot was declared sold at just before 5.00 pm and in between 196 lots were put under the hammer.
Huge credit should go to Mark Perkins and his team for the event – the cars were presented to their very best, there was variety in the rostrum presentation and a lot of hard work behind the scenes – more of which later.
It was also a pleasure to see Edward Bridger Stille at the centre of things tearing around in his wheelchair and opening the auction with the first 10 lots facilitated by a great set of ramps to the rostrum.
But it is hard to know where to start and pointers to the delivery of what was, overall, a cracking sales rate. First and foremost was the fact that they had over 1,000 people at the event so together with the internet, there were bidders all over the place and that gives a sale an energy in itself.
Secondly, there was the plethora of “No Reserve” cars sprinkled liberally through the inventory - when people know that the car is for sale, they are keener to bid.
Finally, there was the work in the back office! I think the only other auction house where I have witnessed more “Provisional Sales” is H & H – only I don’t believe they have a team there lead by the ubiquitous Mr Perkins. In the accompanying results list, all those lots identified by the rostrum as “Provisional Sales” are marked with an asterisk – just look how many of them turned into sales!
It is a clever tactic, because by noting the bidder you have a committed and enthusiastic buyer and you look to marry that enthusiasm with the seller away from the distraction of the sales floor and any competition from other bidders.
It was a day of mixed fortunes for the Aston Martins – first of these was a beautifully presented V8 Series II Saloon that made just short of estimate with a hammer of £49,000 (£54,880 with premium). Sadly, that success was not carried over to a pair of Virages -a Saloon and a Volante bid to disappointing £29,000 and £30,000 respectively. Although I have to say, the Seller of the Red Virage Saloon has cause to be disappointed by another Historics’ innovation.
We were introduced to a guest auctioneer – Vicki Butler Henderson of TV’s “Fifth Gear”. She brought applause and no little amount of enthusiasm to the room but sadly little in the way of rostrum skills. It was a cracking idea to introduce something like this, especially in such a drawn out sale – but rather than the “bring your daughter to work” air of the early lots she dealt with, they should have done a double hander with her energy and enthusiasm offered as a counterpoint to the more dour and professional auctioneer.
Next up for Aston was one of the rare Vanquish Ultimates but it undershot its estimate with a top bid of £180,00 but smiles were restored with a DB7 Vantage Coupe Manual that found a few fans and saw a hammer of £23,000 ((£25,760 with premium). No such luck with a sister car – Touchtronic this time – that was bid to just £17,000.
The first Aston Martin DB11 Volante that we have seen at open auction was bid to a creditable £80,000 ((£89,600 with premium) and sold and then a DB6 Mark 2 Automatic beat the odds and the cynics with a good result. A recently restored car, flattered by the light in Olive Green and beige interior was initially marked as a Provisional Sale at £262,000 but the back-room team closed a deal at £310,000 including premium. (Doesn’t that make the allastonmartin.com DB6 Mark 2 Vantage look good value!).
A couple more Astons were still to go through – a 6.3 “Works Special” Virage flattered to deceive with a bid of £88,000 failing to achieve a sale but we are not sure whether to applaud the sale of a DB7 i6 Coupe at £12,000 (£13,584 with premium) although probably not helped by a damaged driver’s door mirror countering an otherwise good looking car.
There were some startling results on the other makes – a time warp Peugeot 205 GTi 1.6 – a no reserve car bid to £17,000 (£19,244 with premium) or a Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe making a nonsense of its estimate with a hammer of £170,000 (£190,400 with premium).
As we said at the beginning, it was a marathon, but at the end of the sale, there was, like the running race, an enthusiasm to balance the exhaustion.
Cars are selling, customers are back out there – the prices have yet to bounce except with the very exceptional – but there is a sense that, pandemics notwithstanding, our market is gently turning the corner.
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