Market Analysis

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

2019 AUCTIONS MARKET REVIEWED - while nearly £300m was spent at the EU sales reviewed by C.A.R., pre-Brexit sale rates remained much the same in the UK, where the average price paid for classics fell by £6327 during the year
£2.4m Aston Martin DB4GT Lightweight was top seller during very cautious Christmas Shopping in London's West End and Land Rover Works 5.0 V8 70th Edition Defender nearly broke the £130k barrier at Sandown Park during pre-election 59% sold December sales of 150 classics


Although the 34% sale rate for the 35 top cars auctioned in London’s West End was low, Bonhams ‘No Reserve’ 1961 DB4GT top seller, one of only nine cars completed to lightweight specification by the Aston Martin factory that had been owned by the late Percy Crump since 1965, did sell to an overseas buyer for £2,367,000 with premium.

Reserves were not achieved however for two of three more cars being dispersed at auction by Jamiroquai lead singer Jay Kay, an avid collector, whose 2016 Ferrari F12tdf with only 1600 total mileage did sell for £605,000, albeit £65,000 below estimate.

A 2001 550 GTZ Barchetta from another source, and the sole right-hand drive version of just three Zagato-bodied cars, realised a within estimate band £575,000. As did another F12tdf, number 62 of only 70 70th Anniversary designs from Ferrari Tailor Made and the only right-hand drive example of just five ‘Scagliettis’, which sold for £339,250.

The Virage Volante 6.3 that was delivered new in 1994 to Prince Charles, built by Aston Martin to his bespoke specification and driven by him for 23 years, was secured for a princely £235,750. A 1988 V8 Vantage X-Pack 4-Seater FHC sold for £324,300, mid-estimate money, and a 2009 DBS Coupe manual, driven 2974 miles from new, fetched a forecast £112,700.

The least expensive of the 12 cars to sell during a £5.12m Saturday afternoon in the New Bond Street salerooms, costing the buyer £51,750, was a discreetly upgraded 1965 Jaguar Mk2 3.8 ‘Coombs Evocation’, upon which £30k had been spent over the last 5 years.

Simultaneously at the WEC near Leamington Spa, a good Saturday crowd bought 87 or 67% of the 130 classics on offer, many of them far more affordable for most, for £1,231,315 with premium, a pre-election average of £14,153 spent per car. Prices paid ranged from an £82,140 1962 Jaguar E Type S1 3.8 Roadster, re-tubbed and re-panelled in 1992, to a £3996 1982 Porsche 944, an early 58,000 mile S1 with 2.5 8-valve engine and 5-speed gearbox, bought for £3996 .

Whilst the final sale of the old season saw Barons shift 51 of the 89 runners and riders during a 57% sold £474,976 Tuesday afternoon at Sandown Park Racecourse, where the odds on favourite with the most horsepower, a 2014-dated Defender 90XC TD that had been transformed into a ‘Works 5.0 V8 70th Edition’ by Jaguar Land Rover Classic, convincingly outperformed the field. One of only 150 that had been driven just 57 miles since JLRC build, the collectable Land Rover had come to the after-market from a deceased estate to sell under the hammer for £129,800 including premium.

During the month, buyers paid £6,825,000 with premium for 150 classics, 59% of the 254 auctioned, although the DB4GT Lightweight did account for £2.34m of the UK December total.


Some serious seasonal crunching of numbers and digestion of stats from what was nearly a £300m European collector vehicle auction market in 2019 reveals some thought provoking facts of life. For although £16.93m more was spent at auction on classics in 2019 in the EU (including the UK), 6% more than the £281.71m 2018 auctions total, and the average paid per car rose from £51,351 to £51,614, £26.14m less was spent at the UK sales compared to £43.07m more on the European mainland, where achieved auction prices in devalued Sterling rose by 12.5%.

Despite 7575 cars being auctioned in the 2019 UK sales reviewed by this website, 367 more than in 2018, and 5024 of them selling, 170 more than the previous year, the average price paid per car at auction was £6327 less, which amounts to a 16.21% fall in achieved auction prices in pre-Brexit Britain in one year.

On the Continent, RM Sotheby’s grossed £71.1m in 2019 to become EU mainland market leaders by selling 399 or 84% of the 475 cars in their catalogues, more than 43% by value and with an average price of £178,189. Bonhams Europe grossed £57.4m after selling 198 or 68% of 290 cars, just under 22% by value and with a higher average price of £289,882. Whilst Artcurial sold 165 or 55% of 298 cars, over 21% by value and with an average price of £117,657.

In the UK, Bonhams are again market leaders, grossing £43.59m by selling 467 or 60% of the 776 cars offered by Bonhams and their 2019 launched MPH subsidiary, all of which amounted to nearly 33% by value. The average prices per cars sold in 2019 at Bonhams UK sales were £118,710, £1965 less than in 2019, and at Bonhams MPH £17,414.

In second place are Silverstone Auctions, who grossed £29.8m, £1.52m up on 2018, and sold 814 or 65% of the 1250 cars consigned for Silverstone sales and their CCA subsidiary for Everyman Classics, amounting to over 22% by value. The average prices per cars sold in 2019 at Silverstone sales were £73,249, just over £7000 more than in 2018, and at CCA £15,569, just over £500 more than one year ago.

Third placed Historics at Brooklands and Ascot grossed £15.2m by selling 548 or 71% of the 776 cars described in their catalogues, just under 10% by value, more than 9% up on 2018, with an average price of £27,725, £619 more than one year ago. Following their traditional auctions at Duxford and Buxton, H&H are fourth with sales of £12.31m, £2.63m more than in 2018, by selling 576 or 69% of the 837 consigned cars, just over £9m by value, for an average price of £21,366, all figures well up from one year ago.

After again holding one sale for mainly high value cars at Olympia, having grossed £9.33m at a 52% sold sale at Battersea in 2018, RM Sotheby’s are in fifth place selling 57 or 68% of 84 lots for £9.28m, nearly 7% by value, with an average price of £162,807 compared to £290,575 in 2018.

Sixth with sales of £8.01m are ACA, who sold 829 or 77% of 1071 cars at King’s Lynn, nearly 17% by lot and just over 6% by value, with an average price of £9661, £710 more than one year ago. Brightwells are seventh grossing £7.93m for 645 or 70% of 926 Leominster entries, over 13% by lot and 6% by value, with an average price of £12,799, £1721 more than in 2018.

Barons were eighth in 2019 with £2.71m sales of 322 or 60% from 536 cars at Sandown Park, 6.5% by lot and 2% by value, with an average price of £8473. In ninth place, West Country SWVA with 274 or a UK-leading 93% of 296 sales at Poole, 5.6% by lot and 1.7% by value, with an average price of £7991 and, tenth, Errol Perthshire vehicle auctioneers Morris Leslie with 281 or 48% of 583 cars sold for £1.73m, 5.7% by lot and 1.3% by value, with an average price of £6180 per classic sold. Additionally, and auctioning classics only on-line and not in physical salerooms, The Market's annual report records 222 cars sold from 276 offered, an 82% sale rate, for £3,582,558, successful surfers spending on average £16,138 per car during 2019.

All of the these auction stats and prices paid in 2019 reflect market reality. While sale rates were much the same as they were in 2018, according to Historic Automobile Group International, the achieved prices of most, though by no means not all higher value cars have fallen during the last year with the prices for most marques down by 5.58%.

Where they sell, the HAGI P Index that monitors investor grade Porsche transactions shows that values would appear to have stabilised in recent months, although their HAGI F Index tracking Ferrari trades indicates Ferrari prices fell by 5.63% during November alone and have corrected by 9.67% overall during 2019.

With 5024 fossil-fueled classics changing hands at the UK auctions reviewed on this website over the last year, there is most certainly still a market however, one that was worth therefore at least £135m in UK auction classic car sales alone in what proved to be a most uncertain 2019. Although in a climate-changed future with the very real prospect of increased restrictions to our cause, buying at auction in 2020 will be driven by enthusiasts who might actually drive their classic cars rather than speculators for whom so many have become depreciating commodities in storage. RH-E

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