Market Analysis

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

JANUARY SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans

The highest priced classic to sell at public auction in the UK during the January sales was a highly original 1964 Aston Martin DB5 with 36,700 warranted mileage that had been owned since 1972 by the same family, who were present at King’s Lynn, to see it establish an ACA record £556,000 including premium. During an 86% sold £2.82m Saturday afternoon in Norfolk, buyers were also prepared to invest in the future of eighteen restoration projects consigned from Denmark, seven of them E Type Jaguars.

The day before in the south west, only six cars failed to sell on a Friday morning at the SWVA ‘Drive Through’ just outside Poole, where the going rate for a sympathetically upgraded 1973 Ford Escort Mexico Mk1 was £28,500 and a cosmetically better than new in 1970 MG C GT made £25,488. There were more above top estimate valuations for a 1971 Austin Mini Cooper 1275S Mk3 sold for £19,008, a really well restored 1967 Austin A110 Westminster £14,526 and an always chrome-bumpered 1975 MG B GT V8 £13,608.

Earlier in the month, during the Silverstone Auctions debut sale at Autosport International at the NEC, Group B 1985 MG Metro 6R4 Group B chassis 111 in standard production Clubman’s spec fetched £168,750. Fast Fords transacted during a £2.56m afternoon in Brum included an ex-works 1966 Cortina Lotus Mk1 Group 5 with Jim Clark race provenance at £168,750, a mega-mint 1972 Escort Mk1 RS1600 BDA with bubble-arches £69,750, an only 400 miles since concours-restored 1969 Ford Cortina Lotus Mk2 £40,275 and a low ownership 1992 Ford Sierra Sapphire Cosworth 4x4 with 38,600 mileage £20,813.

With so much pre-Brexit uncertainty depressing many markets, stakeholders in this sector will surely be reassured by the vital statistics for January, when 272 car lots (83% of 329 offered) sold for £5.86m and an average of £21,543 was spent per classic auctioned.

At the annual Arizona sales meanwhile in what is by far the largest collector vehicle market in the world, $251m (£19.76m), slightly more dollars than in January 2018, were spent on close to 2500 non-essential hobby automobiles, just over 80% of the 3000 that crossed the seven auction blocks.

Seven out of the top ten priced classics were Ferraris, which occupied the first four places on the week’s leader board. The most valuable Prancing Horses of all cantered across the Gooding stage, led by a 1963 250GT SWB Coupe, which realised a stallion $7,595,000 (£5,772,200 with premium, not far short of the $8m top estimate forecast), with a 1958 250GT Tour de France Coupe at $5,890,000 (£4,476,400) in second place and a $5,395,000 (£4,100,200) 1953 250MM Spider third.

Indeed, with Brit Charlie Ross wielding the gavel, Gooding shifted $48.2m (£36.63m) worth of metal, finding buyers for 105 or 85% of their clients 124 cars. Their average price paid per classic this year amounted to $459,419 (£349,158) compared to $447,415 (£340,035) at the same sale one year ago.

As usual, Barret-Jackson staged the largest sale over several days, and thanks to consigning cars at ‘No Reserve’, claim to have grossed $131.6m (£100.02m) and achieved a 99.7% sale rate. Their $2,100,000 (£1,596,000) sale of the first production Toyota Supra vin 20201 set a new auction record for any Japanese marque ever, the proceeds benefiting charities.

RM Sotheby’s sold 131 or 85% of the 155 cars in their catalogue for $36.91m (£28.05m), virtually the same as last year, though the $281,787 ($214,158) average per car sold was $45,854 (£34,849), down on one year ago. Bonhams meanwhile sold another 107 cars, 89% of the 120 in their catalogue, for $16.1m (£12.24m), both sale total and average sale price however were well down on their 2017 stats. Although once again most cars sold in all the leading auctions in the US , as indeed they also did on the provincial circuit in the Brexit Isles in January.