Market Analysis

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

Parts bin Bentley flies out of Duxford hanger for double top estimate money

MARCH SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans

Whilst tax-payer funded politicians continue to destabilise the economy and the Mayor of London progressively bans cars with exhaust pipes, hard core enthusiasts were still prepared to buy three quarters of cars auctioned in the main UK sales during March, when £9.27m was spent on 474 classics, an average of £19,553 per car, and sale rates ranged from 62% sold in Somerset to 80% at the NEC.

The month’s top seller was an only two owners from new in 1936 Bentley 4½-Litre ‘Garage Find’ with still original Vanden Plas Tourer coachwork. First assembled from parts in Bentley’s Hendon Service Department, but now requiring full restoration, the H&H gavel finally crashed down at double the top estimate and the third owner paid £444,375 with premium. The auction performance of another dusty 1954 Jaguar XK120 SE Drophead project taken on for £91,125 was also a remarkable flight in the Duxford hangar. But then £138,600 was invested in the future of a 1963 Facel Vega II in need of full restoration during a £3m day at the Ascot races with Historics.

During the two-day CCA sale in Birmingham, a double top estimate £23,310 was available for a third generation 1985 Ford Escort 1.6i Cabriolet ‘Time Warp’ with 2965 mileage and factory wax still present underneath. A Northern Ireland built in 1982 DeLorean DMC-12 from 25 years and 31,500 miles ownership also found a way over estimate £40,515 in Motown and a Dublin assembled 1963 Austin Mini, still owned by its one and only owner, made a strong for an 850 £17,205. While even though over £7000 less than forecast, the £42,625 paid for a 1931 Austin Seven Swallow in the Richard Edmonds tent just outside Chippenham was truly mega for any A7 in 2019.

The RM Sotheby’s, Gooding and Bonhams annual sales at Amelia Island in the US meanwhile saw 85% of the 337 cars change portfolios for £58.77m, led by a £1.7m 1965 Ferrari 275GTB at RMS. A bullish average of £205,487 was spent per automobile at auction during the clutch of Florida sales this year.

A 2015 Ferrari LaFerrari raised £2.37m during a £17.77m RM Sotheby’s weekend at Fort Lauderdale, the strongest set of results in the event’s 17-year history. The latest price paid here for a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing was £889,350l, while a 2017 Ferrari F12tdf changed portfolios for £750,750.

Although much more significantly for the ‘Youngtimer Market’ were the world record £133,672 paid for a 1994 Toyota Supra Twin Turbo Targa and the unprecedented £38,808 for a 1993 Mazda RX7. Also busting another record for the model during a £17.77m RMS weekend at Fort Lauderdale was a 1991 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo 100 which made a clearly turbocharged £50,820!

By contrast, all but one of the HAGI Indices that monitor retail transactions in the real world, record falls in transacted prices for top cars after the first three months trading. For year to date, and according to the Historic Automobile Group International number crunchers, achieved Porsche prices have declined by 6.92%, Mercedes-Benz by 5.15% and Ferrari by 4.66%, with only the Lamborghini Index growing by a modest 0.63%.

Whereas on the auction circuit, where the majority of vendors were realistic and were prepared to accept what was offered, 1036 collector cars were hammered away to new homes on both sides of the Atlantic pond for more than £85.8m in one month.