Market Analysis

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

673 classics sold at reviewed auctions during May led by £3.16m Ferrari. While sale rates for higher priced cars continue to decline, UK averages of £10,271-14,430 paid per car reflect current market reality for more affordable classics.

MAY SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans

Both the past month’s top sellers at auction were driven past the RM Sotheby’s rostrum in the grounds of Villa Erba in Italy, where 19.7m euros (£16.75m) was invested in old cars on Saturday night beside Lake Como, 3.72m euros of it (£3.16m, £452,625 below low estimate) accepted for a 1954 Ferrari 500 Mondial Spider and 3.38m euros (£2.87m, only just above the guide price) capturing a 1957 Porsche 550A Spider. But although a 1965 Aston Martin Short-Chassis Volante with hardtop did sell for 1.8m euros (£1.53m and £259,250 more than top estimate), 23 cars did not sell and the vendors of nine of the 57% that did accepted well below the lower estimates.

The going had been even stickier at Bonhams annual fixture for Aston Martins, which was held this year during AMOC concours weekend on the Wormsley Estate near Stokenchurch. For while both a 1964 DB5 was applauded for achieving £860,600 with premium, £180,000 more than top estimate, and a 1963 DB4 Series V Convertible made £810,200, £60,000 over guide, 20 Astons were unsold during a 39% sold £3m Sunday afternoon.

The previous weekend at the equally stately Heythrop Park, while there were buyers for both realistically estimated Jaguar XJ220s in the Silverstone Auctions catalogue with £337,750 with premium for a 1995 in RHD and £303,750 for a 1997 in LHD, and 32 cars, 46% of the total offered, sold for £2.04m, 38 did not.

£78,750 was available however for the 1956 Earls Court Motor Show Allard Palm Beach Mk 2 Ford 2.6 Six Prototype and £17,325 for a 1967 Honda S800 Coupe, both had been well restored. While a way over top estimate £69,750 was needed to win the keys of an exceptional, unrestored 1962 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 manual with just 8725 mileage and £65,250 to land a 9003 miles since 1975 Jensen Interceptor III from the same long-term ownership. The £69,750 realised by a Hong Kong supplied 1964 E Type S1 3.8 Roadster resto-project, dismantled with inventory of parts, was an impressive valuation too.

Interesting projects did well at the Historic sale at Mercedes-World Brooklands where a 1972 Ferrari Dino 246GT, stripped down to the shell with 99% of boxed-up parts to complete, was taken on for £209,000, £44,000 more than the top estimate. A Lotus Elite Climax in bits with non-original shell and engine, the identity at least of which had practiced for the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours, though was crash-damaged on the road and could not take part in the race, raised an equally extraordinary £55,000. Whilst a barn-found condition 1966 Austin Mini Cooper 1275S Mk1 requiring total restoration was rescued for £18,700.

During a full Saturday session, 119 or 74% of the 196 cars displayed inside and outside the flagship Mercedes showroom beside the remains of the old Brooklands circuit sold for £4.37m. £608,300 of the sale total though was paid for a 1968 Aston Martin DB6 Volante in receipt of an 8 year restoration and £390,500 for a well presented 1960 DB4 S2 with original leather. The £33,000 result of a 1973 MG B GTV8 in receipt of full nut and bolt restoration was a milestone for the model and close to the £36,741 average paid for classics at this sale, which saw 25 cars auctioned Without Reserve, including a 1955 Renault 4CV called ‘Buttercup’ acquired for £6050.

Entire entries consigned Without Reserve saw two 100% sold sales take place in the US. For RM Sotheby’s dispersed all 72 cars from the Guyton Collection in St Louis, Missouri, for $10.32m (£8.05p), including a 1909 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Roi des Belges in the style of Barker for $1.33m (£1.3m). While 172 cars from the Tupelo Automobile Museum sold out in Mississippi under the Bonhams gavel for $9.63m (£7.51m), including an Indy Motor Speedway endurance-tested 1948 Tucker 48 for $1.99m (£1.55m).

The latest sale at Brightwells Leominster HQ, where 131 or 77% of the 170 classics in the catalogue sold for £1.35m, reflects current auction reality on the still no nearer to any Brexit mainland. For while standout performances were a 1962 AC engine Greyhound Coupe sold for £82,500, the Motor Mag road tested 1954 Swallow Doretti for £60,500, and a restored and upgraded 1966 Sunbeam Tiger Mk1 for £55,000, 23% of cars sold below their estimates and the average spent per lot was £10,271, but 39 failed to sell.

And later in the month, CCA sold 103 or 75% of the 138 cars in their Warwickshire Event Centre catalogue for £1.46m, including a one owner from new in 1974 Jensen Interceptor III that emerged from 40 years storage for renovation to raise £39,405. There were takers here for all locally consigned E Type Jag projects at £11,042-14,985, while a partially restored 1978 Ford Escort RS2000 project was trailered away for £14,430, virtually the average paid per classic at this sale, which mirrors the current volume market for affordable classics in the UK.