Market Analysis

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

£53.11m spent on 401 cars on both sides of Channel
Paris sale rates hold up at 68%, but nearly £26m less was bid this year. Lambo Veneno and high profile D Type fail to sell, but £3.9m Bugatti T55 is top seller and 1965 275 GTB fetched over £2m during £49m Retromobile week sales. Invicta 4½ S Low Chassis and Lancia Hyena Zagato Coupe both set new World Records. Solberg Subaru WRC S12B rallies well at Race Retro, TR2 with Goodwood race history performs strongly at Sandown Park


The 2020 Paris sales rate of 68% was only 1% down on the 69% sold auctions held in the French capital one year ago. For Arturial, Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s sold 223 out of 329 consigned cars this year, compared to selling 256 of the 357 cars in their 2019 catalogues.

The average price of a Paris auctioned car this time was £213,408 however, in 2019 £287,070. The 17m euros (£14.74m) Artcurial 2019 result of the top selling 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B at the top of our Home Page was a significant contributor to the £73.49m total paid last year in Paris, compared to £47.59m this.  Discounting last year’s stellar Alfa from the sales total, £11.16m less was spent at auction during the 2020 Retromobile week auctions.

5 February RM Sotheby’s Place Vauban
During the Three Nations triple auction fixtures during Retromobile week in Paris, RM Sotheby’s played first in a posh tent with a see-sky roof pitched in front of Napoleon’s tomb in Place Vauban, where 54 changes of ownership were concluded.

During a 69% sold 16.28m euros (£13.83m) Wednesday 5 February evening the North American firm’s prices were headed by a 1958 BMW 507 S2 Roadster sold for 1,996,250 euros (£1,696,813) from a 1964 Porsche 904GTs at 1,917,500 euros (£1,629,875). A 2012 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport sold for 1,523,750 euros (£1,295,188), a 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing for 1,073,750 euros (£912,688), a 1957 300SL Roadster for 764,375 euros (£649,719), a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 for 623,750 euros (£530,188), a 1970 Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona Berlinetta for 522,500 euros (£444,125), a 1939 Delahaye 135 Roadster for 455,000 euros (£386,750), a 1969 300SEL 6.3 ‘Red Pig’ Replica Racer for 432,500 euros (£367,625) and a 1992 Jaguar XJ220 for 398,750 euros (£338,938). 

The reserves were too high though for a private owner supplied in 1955 Jaguar D Type that had been twice crashed and estimated at 5.9-6.4m euros. A Saudi Royal 2015 Lamborghini Veneno Roadster could not be dispersed either for 4.5m-5.5m euros est, while other non-sellers included a 1972 Ferrari 365GTS/4-A Daytona Spider for 2.4-2.6m est, a 1938 Bugatti T57C Stelvio Gangloff DHC for 1.0-1.2m euros and a 1953 Bentley R-Type Continental for 700,000-800,000 euros. 24 cars were unsold, compared to 20 at the same sale last year, when the sale rate was 7% higher and buyers spent £14.5m more.

6 February Bonhams Grand Palais
The next day under sunlit glass in the vast Grand Palais, Bonhams sold 63 of their clients 98 cars in a 64% sold £16.49m sale, which included an unrestored 1931 Invicta 4½-Litre S Type Low Chassis with Carbodies Sports coachwork for 1,610,000 euros (£1,363,992), a new world auction record for the marque. Whilst a 1932 Bugatti T55 topped with Figoni of Paris Roadster coachwork came to market after 56 years in one UK family ownership to raise 4,600,000 euros (£3,897,120), the highest priced automobile at the Paris sales this year.
Among cars sold Thursday at the venue where the first Motor Show was held in 1901 were one of only 39 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Cabriolet As for 1,610,000 euros (£1,363,992) and a 1963 300SL Roadster with hardtop, one of 200 with disc brakes and all-aluminium engine, for 1,033,333 euros (£1,363,992).

The 2013 Flying Scotsman winning 1934 Talbot AV105 Brooklands Sports was bought for 879,750 euros (£745,324), an early 1990s restored Alfa Romeo 1900SZ Zagato Coupe with Conrero engine from new in 1955 for 724,500 euros (£613,796), and the first of 25 2009/2019 MAT Stratos Evocations for 690,000 euros (£586,500). A 1937 Horch 853 Spezial Roadster in Erdmann & Rossi style was hammered for 563,500 euros (£477,397), a 1937 Maybach SW38 Spezial Roadster in Spohn style for 517,500 euros (£472,397) and a former Countess transporting, now shabby chic 1926 Hispano-Suiza H6B Phaeton-Cabriolet for 333,500 euros (£283,543).

By contrast, 2,850,000 euros on the best bids screen did not buy the dinky 1967 Ferrari Dino 206S/SP Sports-Prototype, while the estimated 1.5-1.8m euros were not forthcoming for a 1938 Bugatti T57 Atalante Gangloff Coupe nor 1.35-1.65m euros for a 1939 T57C Stelvio Gangloff Cabrio of 1939. A Grand Prix winning 1925 Bugatti GP for two pilotes fell short of the 1.05-1.4m euros suggested, a 1922 T23 Torpedo-Sport was unsold at 500,000-600,000 euros and a 2016 Zagato Mostro Coupe failed to make the 600,000-900,000 euros required. By lights out, 35 cars were unsold, compared to 45 at the Palais last year, when although the sale rate was 4% higher, buyers spent £450,000 less.

7 February Artcurial Salon Retromobile
The final Paris sale in auction week was held Friday in the Paris Expo at Porte Versailles at the Salon Retromobile itself, where Artcurial displayed 153 cars on their stand before selling 103 of them during a 69% sold 20.56m euros (£17.27m) 7 hour marathon ‘drive-through’ on the ground floor. The highest grossing sale of the week saw 5 cars sell for than 1m euros, led by a much period raced 1965 Ferrari 275GTB, which crossed the stage to make 2,444,000 euros (£2,052,960) with premium, mid-estimate. Also qualifying for the podium were a well preserved 1966 Porsche 906 with known and continuous history sold for a within estimate 1,688,000 euros (£1,417,920) and the Rene Arnoux raced 1983 Ferrari 126 C3-068 F1 for 1,402,400 euros (£1,178,016).

Other top ten performers were a 1991 Ferrari F40, which realised 1,079,420 euros (£906,713), the TWR built and twice Le Mans raced 1993 Jaguar XJ220C Le Mans 904,800 euros (£760,032), a 1936 Delahaye 135S Special with 1937 Le Mans provenance 893,200 euros (£750,288), the 1967 Serenissima 3000SP V8 Prototype Race-Sports 875,800 euros (£73,670), a 10,450k from new in 1965 AC Cobra 289 Roadster 730,800 euros (£613,870), a 1934 Bugatti T57 with original Cabrio body by Vanvooren 487,200 euros (£409,080), a pre-Cobra Replica era 727 SC-spec Roadster built by Brian Angliss on AC Cars COX prefix chassis in 1977 388,600 euros (£326,424) and the first Ferrari 330GTC sold in Paris in 1966 377,000 euros (£316,680).

Among 47 unsold cars were a 1929 Mercedes-Benz 710 SS 27/440 20hp Sport-Tourer at 6.0-8.0m est, the 1938 Geneva Show Alfa Romeo 6C B Lungo Worblaufen with 1.25-1.75m est, the 10 times Le Mans raced 1978 Rondeau M378 LM GTP at 900k-1.2m euros (£735,670), the ex-Rod Stewart Periscopio 1977 Lamborghini Countach LP400 at 800,000-1,200,000 euros and a 1938 6C 2300 B Pecara Worblaufen at 650,000-750,000 euros est.

47 cars were unsold this time, 4 fewer than at the Artcurial Retromobile auction last year, when the sale rate was also 4% less. Without the £14.74m 8C on their book however, the Parisian auctioneers’ 2020 sale total was £11.85m down on 2019, though they still grossed £780,000 more than the other auction houses during Paris auction week

UK February sales overview
Transparent results were published by 4 auction firms who held 5 sales over 5 days, when 178 or 49% from 361 cars offered sold for £5.52m with premium, an average of £15,283 spent per car bought. After the same 4 auctions within 4 days in 2019, 193 of 66% from 291 cars auctioned sold for £3.47m, an average of £17,966 per car. So, after 70 more cars came to auction market in February than one year ago, 15 fewer sold, the sale rate was 17% down and, on average, £2683 less was spent per car, a fall in achieved prices of 15% since the same sales one year ago.

21 & 22 February Silverstone Auctions Race Retro
Silverstone sold 59 or 56% of the 103 cars in their Race Retro catalogue for nearly £4.6m, a 1965 Aston Martin DB5 to 4.2-spec accounting for a below forecast £708,750 of it and a 1986 Ford RS200 selling for a within estimate band £182,550 during the Saturday sale at Stoneleigh Park .

Number 9 of 24 Zagato developed 1992 Lancia Hyena Coupes based on chassis and drive train of the Integrale HF Evo 2 set a new £168,750 world record auction price for the model. While a California supplied 1965 Porsche 911 2.0 SWB for light restoration at the least was applauded when a long bidding battle had been won for £84,375 with premium.

A statistically unprecedented 26 or 70% of the 37 Competition cars sold during the preceding Friday session, headed by a pair of JLR built Invictus Games Racing Jaguar F Type SVR GT4s sold for £213,750 and the 2007 Petter Solberg rallied Impreza WRC S12B for £189,000.

25 February Barons Sandown Park
The following Wednesday, a 1954 Triumph TR2, originally modified by tuning ace Vic Derrington , also performed really well under the Barons gavel at Sandown Park. For some period Goodwood club race history ensured the once Canley built sports car made £52,800 with premium during a 60% sold afternoon when 41 of the 68 cars parked in the grandstand sold for  £492,085.

The overall sale rate at the 8 physical (rather than on-line) auctions reviewed in February was 58%, while the £132,437 average amount paid per car was inflated way above UK provincial sale normality by many of the higher value car prices in Paris.

The potential for enforced shutdown of many activities due to the coronavirus crisis has now to be high to likely though, particularly where auctions are not stand alone sales at auctioneers own premises, but are held at public-access venues or within major events. The Geneva Salon was abandoned just before it opened, while some shows with 1000 or more visitors in Switzerland and 5000 or more attendees projected in Spain and France have also been deemed to be too public health risky.
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