Market Analysis

Market Commentary - which classics are selling, by whom and for how much

Although 73% of 880 classics consigned sold at 11 sales reviewed during October, and £38.51m was spent at auction on 643 collector vehicles in one month, sale rates varied from only 51% in Paris to as much as 89% at Poole

OCTOBER SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans

A barn-stored 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400, preserved in unusually original condition by only two German owners, was auctioned ‘Without Reserve’ for a results-topping £1,248,125 including RM Sotheby’s premium during a £9.28m Friday night in London’s Olympia. The Miura was the highest priced classic and the auction the highest grossing sale in the UK during October.

But although an ex-works Lancia Delta S4 Group B rally car, driven to 1985 Lombard RAC Rally victory by Henri Toivonen and Neil Wilson and crashed more recently, also achieved a within estimate £764,375 under the RM Sptheby's gavel, a Ferrari 412 TI F1 in which Gerard Berger was 2nd at the 1994 Italian GP and Jean Alesi finished 3rd in Brazil, ran out bidding power with an insufficient £1,200,000 displayed on the muti-currency big screen.

Nobody in the world on the night appeared to be prepared to match or better the £1,500,000 sought for a 14,622k since new in 2003 Ferrari Enzo from Italian, French, German and Scottish ownerships either. There were no new owner-drivers either with £1,800,000 or more for a GT1 raced 2005 Maserati MC12 GTI that would be eligible for Masters Endurance and Endurance Racing Legends or the £1,050,000 or more suggested for an Andy Wallace and Jan Lammers raced 1989 Jaguar XJR-11 Group C. Whilst having taken part in two Le Mans 24 Hours in period, one ending with a 13th overall finish in 1990, did not push a Bruce Canepa restored Porsche 962 Group C over the £1,000,000 line either.

It was left therefore to a 7,758 miles from new in 1973 Ferrari Dino 246GT in RHD to take third place in the results with a £432,500 within estimate performance, something which 37% of the 57 cars sold achieved. For while 11% of them fetched over top estimate prices, 14% went for less than their estimates and 27 cars, 32% of the 84 offered, were unsold. The £162,834 average paid per car here was however the highest of the month on both sides of the Atlantic and Channel.

Whereas earlier in the month on the EU mainland during a 10.54m euros (£9.23m) evening beside the North Sea at Zoute, Bonhams did sell a period-raced 1965 Ferrari 275GTB Alloy Long-Nose that had been a retrospective podium finisher at Le Mans Classic for 2,875,000 euros (£2,516,1420) and a 26,707k since 2004 Andora-registered Enzo for 1,506,500 euros (£1,318,458). These were the highest value collector cars to sell at auction on both sides of the Atlantic during the October sales.

In the US meanwhile, bidders from 23 countries bought 199 of the 208 cars at RM Auctions two day Hershey sale for $15,569,595 (£12,299,980), the highest grossing sale in October and, at 96% sold, also the highest world auction sale rate of the month. Top banana was a surviving 1930 Cadillac V16 Sport Phaeton by Fleetwood, which ignited a Friday bidding contest between a contestant in the room and another on the phone, who slugged it out until the matter was concluded and the motor car bought for an applauded $1,221,000 (£964,590).

By the end of October however, the sale rate had fallen to 51% at Artcurial in Paris, where a Mille Miglia and Tour Auto evented 1953 Fiat rarity, an Ottovu Tipo 106 Sport Berlinetta no less, failed to raise the 1,100,000-1,300,000 euros (£946,000-1,118,000) required and 550,000-650,000 euros (£473,000-559,000) was also too much for a 1924 Bugatti Type 23 2-Seater Sports that had taken part in eight Mille Miglia Retrospectives.

In the Imperial War Museum hangar at Duxford earlier in the month, H&H shifted 70% of their clients’ cars, selling 67 out of 96 lots in the catalogue for £2,255,934 with premium. For although £240,000 or more was not bid for a former 1927 Bentley 3-Litre Saloon, that had changed hands for £50 in circa 1955 and subsequently upgraded to a Le Mans Classic run 4½-Litre 2-Seater, a 10,000 miles from new in 1974 Ferrari Dino 246GT in right-hand drive, purchased for £7,000 in 1976, did sell for £303,750, well over the £225,000-275,000 estimate. Another high flier at the former WW2 airfield in Cambridgeshire was a 1991 Audi Quattro 20v with warranted 32,000 mileage that raised £84,375, more than £9,000 over top estimate. The average amount spent per classic beside the M11 was a far from depressing £33,671.

A 1988 Audi UR Quattro WR-10v was much more affordable for most for £22,866 at CCA in the WEC beside the Fosse Way in Warwickshire, where 75 or 67% of the 112 classics offered sold for £1,120,905, the average spent being £14,945 per car. Exactly the same money, £53,280 with premium, had to be bid to secure a show quality 1974 Ford Capri RS3100 Mk1 as a right-hand drive and only 18,700 mile 1994 Ferrari 348 Manual Spider in Giallo Modena. A Ford 1600 crossflow powered 1965 Lotus Seven (not a later Caterham) and an S2 (not an S3 as incorrectly re-registered on repatriation from Oz) had been guided at £15,000-18,000 to sell, which indeed it did for £16,872.

By far the highest sale rate in the UK during October though was the 89% achieved by SWVA at the West Country firm’s final Drive Though for classics of the year at Parkstone, just outside Poole, where only 8 cars were unsold and 68 of the 76 collector vehicles entered changed hands for £532,676 with premium, an average of £7,833 per car.

Further analysis of the West Country vehicle auction firm’s stats shows that there were 13 No Reserve cars and only 5 went for less than their guide prices, while 7 made within estimate money and 43 or 63% of car sold did so for more than had been forecast. The stand-out prices were at the Friday morning Drive Through were a 1973 MG B GT V8 with 49,666 warranted mileage, estimated at £18,900-19,990, but sold for £34,020, and a 1959 Austin A105 Westminster Vanden Plas 2.6 with floor change, estimated at £8,500-9,000, but sold for £29,700.

Some of the other stand-out cars to sell at auction during the month were a 1980s restored 1954 MG TF 1500, estimated by DVCA at £22,000-25,000, sold for £28,820 at Henstridge Airfield and an ex-Rover Director, 1990s refurbished, 1938 Rover P2 10 2-Door Coupe for £16,500 in the same sale.

A cosmetically and mechanically restored 1961 Jaguar 3.8 Mk2 with all-synchro box, claimed by the vendor never to have been out in the rain for 22 years, fetched a more than Barons estimate £53,570. A nicely presented 1968 Jaguar S Type 3.8 auto on wires also made £16,280, over £4,000 more than forecast at Sandown Park, where a 1965 Ford Mustang Factory ‘C Code’ Notchback with 302ci V8 and C4 auto really was super-mint for £21,010.

After the numbers have been crunched from 11 sales reviewed on this website during October, 643 classics out of the 880 offered sold for £38.51m with premium. Although the overall sale rate was 73%, the individual sale rates were as low as 51% in Paris and 54% in Somerset, and as much as 96% at RM Auctions in Pennsylvania and 89% at SWVA Dorset.

Most of the really big hits continue to be taken by those who over-invested in higher value stock in what was perceived to have been an appreciating futures market with not a bump in the road in sight.