Market Analysis

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

FERRARI TAKES SECOND IN PRICES GP - Schumacher Ferraris occupy F1 auction price front row after inaugural sale at Abu Dhabi GP, where Pagani Zonda breaks world record only set at Riyadh earlier in a month when 68% of 1221 cars auctioned sell for £40.39m

NOVEMBER SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans

Michael Schumacher’s 2002 World Championship winning Ferrari F2002 Formula 1 raced to a $6.64m (£5.12m) result during RM Sotheby’s $31.3m (£24.1m) debut Abu Dhabi auction 30 November to become the second most valuable GP car from the F1-branded era ever sold at auction. The top step of the F1 world record auction podium is already occupied by another Schumacher Ferrari, his F2001 also hammered by RM Sotheby’s for $7.5m (£5.78m) in far more bullish 2017.

The longest bidding battle during the 23 car 58% sold evening saw a one-off 2017 Pagani Zonda Aether eventually raise $6.81m (£5.25 m) with premium and establish a new world record price for the model. The first Ferrari DXX L to be auctioned fetched $4.28m (£3.3m) here and a Patrick Tambay and Mario Andretti raced 1982 Ferrari 126 C2 single seater was applauded for achieving $2.24m (£1.65m). Generously donated by Markus Jebsen, a 2011 Aston Martin One-77 was driven onto the Yas Marina Circuit F1 starting grid by David Coulthard with the $1.44m (£1.1m) proceeds benefiting Auctions4Wildlife’ African Parks.

Although eight of the top-priced cars fetched more than $1m apiece with premium and the hammer prices of only 15% of vehicles sold were below $250,000 (£192,500), the reserves of 17 or 42.5% of consigned cars were too much for those in what was clearly a global, rather than Middle Eastern specific market.

The previous weekend, Silverstone Auctions had been appointed to host The Riyadh Car Sale Auction, the first ever hypercar, supercar and classics auction to be held in modernising Saudi Arabia, a well presented bash, which reportedly generated at least $16m (£12.32m) of sales including two records, one for a Pagani lasting only a week. Although the 2017 Riviera version of the Zonda, declared sold in the room for a premium-inclusive £5.89m (£4.53m), became the highest value collector car Silverstone have sold.

There were also buyers with $1,123,500 (£865,095) for a 2017 McLaren P1 hybrid, which would appear to be continuing to depreciate even in the Middle East, $909,500 (£700,315) for a Tailor-made 2017 Ferrari F12tdf and $278,200 (£214,200) for a 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR Brabus Roadster. The $96,300 (£74,151) paid for one of 310 1978 Rolls-Royce Corniche 2-Door Coupes is also believed to be a record auction price for the model.

Even so, for the majority of Saudi petrolheads in the seats, this was a spectator sport and any bidding and buying in fossil fuel heaven appeared to be mainly driven by overseas investors who were presumably funded from elsewhere. As the Riyadh auction proprietors have as yet to go public with full results, final sale stats from the Kingdom are unknown and a fully transparent picture cannot therefore be reviewed.

Earlier in the month in Brum, home turf for Silverstone Auctions, the Midland firm shifted 39 classics per day during Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show weekend at the NEC, where 64% of cars sold for £2.62m in the Saturday session and 74% of entries for £2.85m Sunday. By the end of a really well attended NEC event, 78 of the 114 entries displayed on the auctioneers’ spacious stand for three days had sold for £5.47m, and although 36 of them were unsold, buyers of 68% of the classics in the catalogue spent a confidence-inducing average of £70,108 per car.

The headliner was a £258,750 world auction record price setting 1955 Triumph TR2, an ex-works car that finished 19th in the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours, after which ‘PKV 374’ was immediately purchased by King Hussein of Jordan. Both 1965 DB5s in the sale meanwhile made a within forecast £618,750 and £607,500 including premium respectively.

Another bidder also paid a within estimate £362,813 with premium for a 1993 XJ220, like most of the Jaguar supercars inactively car-covered in storage rather than driven anywhere, this one a UK-supplied, two owner, 2000 mile example with Don Law invoices totalling £27,000.  The latest 190SL Merc to have been consigned by the auctioneers, a well restored 1958 car in right-hand drive, realised £117,000.

Other standout performances (of several) at the NEC included a right-hand drive £22,000-26,000 guided 1976 Alfa Romeo Montreal in right-hand drive with 45,495 warranted mileage that had gathered dust for 15 years and which was taken on for £39,375, and a much farmer owned and as yet unrestored 1950 Land Rover Series 1 that raised £27,000, £10,000 more than the top estimate.

The month started well with Bonhams annual sale for London to Brighton Run Veterans, a dozen of which changed hands for just over £1.2m during an 80% sold afternoon in the New Bond Street salerooms. Prices this year ranged from £442,750 for the 1901 Panhard-Levassor 7hp twin-pot for four known as ‘Le Papillon Bleu’ and a £224,250 1900 MMC Daimler 6hp twin four-seater - to a £31,050 1904 Phoenix 4½hp Tricar with wicker suicide seat up-front and a £19,500 1902 Bartholomew 3½hp High-Wheeled Spindler. While the supply of Brighton Run eligible Veterans is finite, potential owners for most of them continues to match those that come to market.

The next day, a larger crowd bought 136 much younger classics for £925,804 with premium at ACA’s end of season Saturday ‘Drive-Through’ in King’s Lynn, where a ‘No Reserve’ 7349 miles from new in 1987 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth, that had been asleep since 1991, was woken up by a bidder prepared to pay £84,800 with premium to become only the second registered owner. 31 cars being auctioned ‘Without Reserve’ contributed greatly to 71% of the 191 car entry selling at what was once again another very well attended sale in Royal Norfolk. 

Later in the month, within the M25 Economc Zone, plenty of punters crossed the designer bridge to the mezzanine saleroom at Mercedes-Benz World beside what remains of Brooklands circuit, where Historics had set-up their well-dressed rostrum to sell 103 of the 143 cars in their glossy catalogue for £3.28m during a 72% sold Saturday.

Appropriately, in the most prestigious Mercedes showroom in the UK, a 1971 600 Pullman of harem proportions headed a long price list with a £240,000 result. Among other well-presented headliners, the catalogue cover 1925 Bentley 3-Litre Open Tourer sold for a close to top estimate £214,500 with premium. An Arizona sourced 1966 Jaguar E Type S1 4.2 Roadster, repatriated and restored in 2018, made a forecast £152,240 and an always UK market 1965 S1 4.2 OTS, restored in 2011, went for £124,520, more than had been estimated.

The following Wednesday, mid-week and many bendy miles from a Motorway, the biggest turnout of the end of season sales thronged Brightwells Leominster HQ to bid for a month-topping 212 consigned classics, both ancient and modern, 134 of which changed owners during a 63% sold mid-week sale for a premium-inclusive £1,242,360.

Five more sales were held in the UK during the month with sale rates ranging from 42% at Shepton Mallet to 57% in Buxton. While these were certainly disappointing stats for many vendors, nonetheless another £4.19m was spent on 256 more classic cars. For even with Brexit being in limbo pre-election, plus the potential of JC being handed the poisoned keys to Number 10 and wall to wall global weather events on News 24 fuelling zero emissions activism, the overall figures for those sales reviewed on Classic Auction Review in November were still extraordinarily resilient in the face of so much international uncertainty. As buyers still paid £40.39m for 767 classics, 68% of the 1231 auctioned, and £16.63m of the total was spent right here in the UK. RH-E