Auction report from the Bonhams Sale at the 2023 Goodwood Revival meeting
While the cars at the Revival raced around the track at Goodwood, an altogether different pace reflected a marathon sale in the Bonhams marquee.
Huge inventories may suit the shareholders but they should beware of the old TV programme– “never mind the quality, feel the width” – slow running bids on a low value classic at £1,000 a bid at the same pace as £50,000 bids on a £1million pound car makes little commercial sense as well as creating an impatience on the audience.
Richard Stafford took the first stint on the rostrum and in time he is sure to establish his own style – at present he is adopting Jamie Knight’s old style - “good to see you sir”, and it does not have the same impact, especially on repeat. But I am sure he and his bosses were happy with one of his early lots, a 2007 Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren Roadster – a car with no reserve and an estimate of £120/160,000 she was sold for £355,000 (£408,250 with premium).
With only the rare exception, there were not many cars that beat their estimates and that included some of the large number of Aston Martins in the inventory. The first Aston through was a 1956 DB2/4 Mark II which equalled its bottom estimate which was pessimistically low and sole at £100,000 (£115,000 with premium). But then the next Aston a 1954 DB2/4 showed an over optimistic estimate and with a top bid of £220,000 failed to sell.
But then came three real collectors’ items from Newport Pagnell that restored a little faith – a Virage Coupe Prototype in Lagonda clothing, a so called “Mule” made £250,000 (£287,500 with premium) and that was followed by a last of the line 1989 V8 Volante Manual - £230,000 on the hammer (£264,500 with premium) and finally a 1989 V8 Vantage Volante at £190,000 (£218,500 with premium)
The rostrum for this auction marathon was shared with, dare we say, the venerable Malcolm Barber, and in fact he was part of the liveliest lot of the day. But before that interlude, we had more disappointment for Aston Martin sellers as first a DB5 made it to £420,000 and failed to sell then a 6.3 litre Virage only made it to £60,000 and remained in the unsold column.
The entertainment came not from Malcolm but from TV motoring personality Richard Hammond who was there to support a charity lot, a Lancia Delta Integrale that his workshop had been restoring. After the theatre last week at Goodings with Charlie Ross, Bonhams should look carefully at the impact character, personality and selling has such a positive impact. The Integrale beat its TOP estimate by some distance, selling for £36,000 (£41,400 with premium) – we hope that the Buyer’s Premium finds its way to the charity as well!!
But this being a Bonhams sale, there were the inevitable ‘No Reserve’ – Middle East defleets – they really have a negative impact on perception of these great cars.
A 1972 Vantage Saloon, estimated at £70,000 sold for just £30,000 (£34,500 with premium), a DB6 Mark 2 sold at £132,000 (£151,800 with premium), a 1971 DBSV8 made it to £40,000 (£46,000 with premium) and a V8 Series III sold at £35,000 (£40,250 with premium).
In the mix of these there was a good looking DB4 Series IV with a bottom estimate of £325,000 and appeared not to have sold with a top bid of £170,000 – but in the final results, it was marked “Sold” so we cannot accurately report the final deal price. That was immediately followed by a rather lovely V8 Vantage X Pack that sold for £250,000 (£287,500 with premium). A privately entered 1967 DB6 Saloon was similarly low balled at £160,000 but remained unsold. However, a DB Mark III made its low low estimate of £80,000 (£92,000 with premium)
The sale was wrapped with two aircraft that again seemed out of place and failed to sell and we had to question the wisdom of a 6+ hour auction with an eclectic mix of product from charity lots to serious racers – the Porsches seemed to suffer like the Astons but the Ferraris fared better – there were fewer of them!
It is clearly a buyer’s market and quality shines through as the best-selling point but if you are a seller, you must look carefully at the market and get your expectations aligned with that market – Bonhams 68% sales rate bettered Goodings 55% but in terms of quality fell short of the Hampton Court presentation.
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