Market Analysis

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

Only two cars did not sell in Poole and world records are smashed at Essen

APRIL SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans

Despite Brexit having stalled while those unemployable MPs warm the planet with their hot air emissions, happily for all stakeholders, nostalgics continue to fuel their addition by bidding for old motor cars. For three quarters of all classics auctioned on the main sales circuit on both side of the Channel sold in April, when nearly £26.6m was spent on non-essential automobiles with sale rates ranging from 97% on a Friday morning in Dorset to 21% on a Wednesday in Somerset. The latest reality-check stats were headed by RM Sotheby’s debut German sale at the Essen Show, where bidders bought 179 cars including several car transporter loads of fashionable Youngtimers for £16.24m in sessions.

For in stark contrast to the wall to wall doom and gloom on 24 hour news channels, new world record prices continue to be set for collector vehicles on global screens on different continents and in different currencies. Among some mega RM Sotheby’s prices paid at Essen were the 1,040,000 euros (£904,800) invested in a 1985 Lancia Delta S4 Stradale, the 770,000 euros (£669,900) valuation for a 1982 Lancia 037 Rally Stradale and the 545,000 euros (£474,150) result of a 1975 Lancia Stratos HF Stradale. None were ex-works competition cars with celeb driver or major event winning provenance, all were Stradale road car versions of the models rallied by the Lancia factory team.

The Essen auction prices were headed by a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A, which would have led triumphant convoys only 80 years ago before becoming spoils of WW2 for the US or Soviet victors, none of whom in the VE Day market would have paid anywhere near the 2,255,000 euros (£1,961,850) RM Sotheby’s result.

The highest attendance in the UK was once again at the latest ACA sale at King’s, where more printed catalogues than ever before ran out before the sale had even started and there were 177 changes of ownership in Norfolk by the time the last fish and chips had been served in the on-site cafeteria. In the West Country, an even larger crowd than usual were also magnetised to SWVA, where there were buyers for all but two cars. Both were ‘Drive Through’ sales, where punters are entertained by some movement and most cars being auctioned can be reassuringly seen being started up and run past the rostrum.

The top-priced car to sell in the UK last month was a 1964 Aston DB5 converted to Vantage-spec that sold for £636,600 in the Bonhams tent at the Goodwood Members Meeting, where an admittedly restored and mint 1965 Mini Cooper 970S fetched £62,166, which may not be repeated for any S for the foreseeable future. A No Reserve 1963 Austin Mini Super De Luxe with 7700 warranted mileage realised £14,063, strong money for an 850, at the Pavilion Gardens Buxton, where the H&H story started 25 years ago. A 1966 Sunbeam Tiger parked on the newly refurbished ballroom floor pulled £41,625, though the Ford V8 engined Chrysler Rootes range topper had been n receipt of a five year well-invoiced restoration.

A 1960 MGA 1600 with in excess of £40,000 worth receipts made a well over top estimate £39,420 with premium at Poole as did the SWVA catalogue cover-featured 1953 MG TD Mk2 with left to right-hand drive conversion sold for £25,380. The almost certainly better than new in 1950 Ford Pilot V8 with 12v electrics sold for £19,580 by Barons at Sandown really was in exceptional condition. By contrast, a garden-sourced, though pre-production No Reserve 1973 Jaguar XJ 4.2 Coupe issued to Chief Engineer Jim Randle had almost taken root before being trailered to auction, where it was taken on for £5830.

The first 1981 Reliant Scimitar GTC chassis 001 ‘Show Car’ had already raised £8960 under the Brightwells gavel in the vast Bicester Heritage hangar, where a miniscule 1956 Berkeley SA322 4-wheeler, the Anzani 322cc twin-pot 2-stoke propelled chassis 0010, believed to be the oldest road-worthy survivor of the marque, was carried off (literally) for £7840. A 1969 Morris Mini 998 Mk2 Traveller is unusual, an auto ever rarer, but one changed Woody Estate keepers in Herefordshire for £9520.

Those vendors setting reserves, many of which are no longer achievable in a market where national uncertainty continues to depress consumption, should be aware that most of the 29% cars that did not sell, 196 of them in eight catalogues, were simply too expensive in the condition presented for those increasingly picky bears who are prepared to come out to play.

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