Market Analysis

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

While auction sale rates hold up on both sides of the Brexit Channel, Porsche prices have declined by over 6%

FEBRUARY SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans

From the four main UK sales reviewed during February, 193 or 66% of the 291 classics auctioned changed hands for £3.47m, an average of £17,966 being spent per car. While the percentages sold during the month ranged from 63% in Perthshire to 74% in Somerset, the reserves set by the vendors of 98 unsold cars, 34% of the total offered, were unrealistic in the current market.

On the EU mainland meanwhile, 256 of the 372 automobiles auctioned in Paris during Retromobile week sold. But while the percentages achieved at the three major sales ranged from 65 to 76%, the 69% sale rate overall in the French capital was 3% more than at UK auctions in February. Parisian house Artcurial grossed 31% more than they did one year ago and the 81.38m euros (£71.62m) spent in three days amounted to an average of £279,760 per automobile bought, a staggering £261,794 more than was invested in classics futures on the potentially Brexit-side of the Channel.

The super star of the month was the 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B with aerodynamic Berlinetta body beautiful by Touring that made nearly 17m euros (£14.74m) as it crossed the Artcurial stage and the Atlantic, the third highest price ever for a pr-WW2 motor car and most unlikely to be challenged as the top performer in Europe this year. RM Sotheby’s set a new world record for the 1987 Ferrari F40 LM they sold for 4.84m euros (£4.26m) and the ex-King Hussein 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabrio fetched 1.58m euros (£1.39m) at Bonhams.

More recently, a 1958 Porsche 356A Speedster, converted from left to right-hand drive by JDC during a 2015 restoration realised £292,500, under the Silverstone gavel at Race Retro, where a much road rallied 1964 356C Coupe achieved a £69,750 result. A rhd 1972 Ferrari Dino 246GT in really rare factory-applied bright blue was applauded for making £270,000 during the Midland exhibition. There was even Japanese bidding interest on-line for a Midland sprinted and hillclimbed 1959 Austin-Healey Sebring Sprite Evocation by the late Brian Archer which deservedly pulled £23,625, though there were no takers for all three historics race eligible single-seaters.

A car transporter load of Fast Fords however were valued in public auction here led by a 1970 Escort Twin Cam Mk1 with webasto-roof sold for £48,667. Cosworth prices included £42,917 for a 1995 Escort TS Cosworth Lux, £42,750 for a 1987 Sierra RS500 Cosworth and £30,375 for a 2010 Focus RS500. £32,200 was paid for a 1974 Escort Mk1 RS2000 with genuine AVO shell. A one owner since 1979 VW Golf GTI Mk1 scored an impressive £27,225 and there were buyers for all four Cooper S-spec Minis with £38,500-30,375 available for three Mk1s and £22,500 for a Mk3.

At Sandown Park meanwhile Barons sold a 1964 Morris Mini Cooper 998 Mk1 restored over a 10 year period with photos for £20,130 and an only 28,890 miles since new in 1960 Morris Mini De-Luxe 850 for £13,869. The latest price paid for a useable 1960 Austin-Healey Mk1 Sprite original from 16 years vendor ownership was £11,880, while a repainted 1964 Morris Minor 1000 Traveller with re-covered front seats changed estates for £5400. The headline valuation here though was the £14,520 bid for a ‘garage-find’ 1991 Peugeot 309GTI Phase 2 with only 131 miles on the clock, whereas a 1991 205GTI 1.9 with full leather and 107,000 mileage cost the next owner £6160.

When transactions outside the auctions are analysed however, the achieved retail and private sale prices for many of the more expensive classics continue to soften. For the latest reality check for stake holders comes from the numbers crunching Historic Automobile Group International whose HAGI Top Car Index lost 1.93% during February, by when their HAGI P, which monitors classic Porsche transactions, had recorded a 6.11% decline year to date.

The HAGI MBCI charting classic Merc prices was also down by 2.29%, their HAGI F shadowing collector Ferrari sales fell by 3.04% during the month. Indeed, the only exception was the new HAGI LPS for classic Lamborghinis, which rose 0.39%, and is only index in positive territory for the first two months of what will be an unpredictable ride.

Although on the positive side, lower prices do mean that far more classics become more affordable for more consumers in a market that is returning to being enthusiast rather than investor-driven.