Market Commentary - Absentee bidders spend over £21.5m on 394 classics, 69% of those auctioned on the internet during lockdown
After a very locked down April, a clutch of On-Line Sales, many of them Live’ rather than ‘Timed-Out’, competed for consigning vendors who have few other dispersal options with showrooms and salerooms closed down by No 10 and State Governors.From the 7 internet sales reviewed, 394 of the 569 collector automobiles that crossed virtual auction blocks sold to absentee bidders, many of whom had never viewed the metal or sniffed the gasoline.The overall sale rate was 69% and the total spent was a far from depressed £21.5m, the On-Line average of £54,602 reflecting higher prices paid for cars in the US on the RM Sotheby’s On-Line platform. Sale rates meanwhile ranged from 43% in Dorset to 88% in both Warwickshire and Berkshire.
APRIL & MAY SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans
RM Sotheby's On-Line Timed-Out - A 2003 Ferrari Enzo, bought for $2,640,000 (£2,127,840), became the most valuable car sold - sight-unseen - during a dedicated On-Line Only collector vehicle auction to date. Following close behind the Enzo in RM Sotheby’s internet only sale, which timed out 29 May for more than 550 absentee registered bidders from 35 countries, 24% of them bidding with the international auction house for the first time, a 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO also sold for a $2,310,000 (£1,861,860), also a high price in the virtual world.
The other top tenners, six of them Ferraris, were a still as new 2017 Ford GT sold for $836,000 (£673,860), a 1958 Ferrari 250GT Pininfarina Coupe for $671,000 (£540,826), a 2020 488 Pista Spider from the same Prancing Horse stable for $605,000 (£487,630) and a brand new 2020 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ for $467,500 (£376,805).
In seventh place on the leader board, a 1965 Shelby 427 S/C Cobra ‘4000 Series’ realised $396,000 (£319,176), a 2006 Ford GT Heritage $385,000 (£310,310), a 2019 Ferrari 812 Superfast $335,000 (£270,413) and a 2001 550 Barchetta $308,000 (£248,248).
By the end of the 9 day On-Line Only process, while 78 cars were unsold and remained with their consignors, 115 out of the 193 offered had sold, 60%, changed owners for $16,305,410 (£13,142,160 with premium), an average of £114,280 spent per car.
Silvertone Auctions 'Live' On-Line with viewing of cars - Silverstone auctioned 86 clients' cars ‘live’, behind closed doors in one Saturday 23 May afternoon session in Warwickshire, where consigned cars could be physically viewed by prospective buyers, pre-sale and by appointment, and bids came in online and by telephone from as far away as Singapore and Salzburg.
A 1962 Jaguar E Type donor ‘Tool Room’ copy of a D Type with some genuine D Type components performed strongly for any Rep by selling for £390,500. Whilst a 2017/18 Terry Drury built Ford GT40 with 302ci Gurney-Weslake V8 in the tail and some original parts, a period-accurate homage to two real ones the ex-AVO engineer had raced over 50 years ago, sold for £308,000.
Locally built by Peugeot Sport UK in Coventry in 1984 for the late American Real Estate Developer Jon Woodner to rally in the US 1984/88, and subsequently rebuilt and upgraded in New Zealand early this century, Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 Group B chassis S007 inspired the longest internet versus telephones auction ever personally witnessed. To the accompaniment of much applause from the telephone bids operators, Jonathan Humbert’s gavel finally crashed down at £306,000, costing the winning telephone contestant £336,600 including premium.
A right-hand drive Ferrari 512BBi, driven just 21,000 miles by one family owned since new in 1982, found £189,200 and an apparently really well recreated Porsche 911 2.7 RS that had been a 1971 911 D Series in a previous life went for £161,700, way over estimate. A not insignificant £159,500 meanwhile was forthcoming for a 10,500 mile 1984 Aston Martin V8 Series 4 ‘Oscar India’ auto from one registered ownership.
Jay Kay’s 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL E9, which the auctioneers reckoned was the best they had ever seen, was dispersed for £151,200 and £92,950 was required to land the Jamiroquai frontman’s closed road or track ready 1987 BMW M3 E30 in Competition-spec. A 12,700 mile 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Gullwing flapped away into new ownership for £132,000 and £97,500 secured a 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ Group 2 Evocation.
Consigned cars had been comprehensively photographed, i-catalogued, video-promoted and physically viewed by appointment during preceding days at a nearby farm facility. Within the internet-screened saleroom, lots were introduced ‘live’ by Head of House at Silverstone Auctions, Nick Whale, before being auctioned by regular bids umpire Jonathan Humbert.
Even though no punters could be physically present in the room, bids were nonetheless plentiful and had to be fielded from those on the commission book, others made via several telephone tables, manned by socially-distanced Silverstone Auctions specialists, as well as from international mice clicking away remotely on the proxibid and saleroom bidding platforms.
After two post-sales had been concluded, 76 cars sold, 13% of them No Reservists, which were going to sell anyway, while 60 of them, 79% of those sold, did so for within or above their pre-sale estimates. 25 lots even made more than top estimate money, whereas only 6 cars, just 8%, went for below their guide prices. With just 10 unsold cars, the sold rate was 88% and the more than 5 hour sale total for cars grossed £4,623,820 with premium, an average of £60,840 spent per car during the highest grossing auction in the UK of coronavirus year so far.
Bonhams 'Live' On-Line with viewing of cars - More than 500 registered to bid remotely for the inaugural Bonhams Live and On-Line Motoring Auction on a ‘Covid-19 guidelined’ Saturday 30 May, by when the auction cars and bikes had been viewed by appointment, all fisplayed outside, at a well-distanced Bicester Heritage. The internet only sale itself was held on camera, behind closed doors, in the studio setting of the Bonhams Oxford saleroom, where auctioneers Rob Hubbard and Malcolm Barber fielded multiple absentee bids on video-illustrated lots.
By close of play, 59% of the winning bidders had been playing on-line, ahead of those competing by telephone or leaving bids pre-sale on commission. The prices paid ranged from the mortal remains of a 1949 Riley RMC Roadster taken on for £2917 to a £79,250 Ferrari 360 Spider driven less than 4000 miles from new and a £59,650 1976 Lamborghini Urraco. When viewed at time warp Bicester Heritage, pre-WW2 cars were in appropriate surroundings, a 1935 Bentley 3½ Litre Pillarless-Coupe by Rippon selling for £58,500 on the net, a 1933 Riley 9 Monaco for £15,199.
Lightly patinated, but 'for improvement', the Newport Pagnell manufactured 1966 Aston Martin DB6 4.2 top seller, sold for £146,250 afterwards, was an auto with roof panel modified by Webasto, both delete options for many in the buyers’ market for a DB6. Whereas £90,000 was required to secure a 1954 DB2/4 Mk1 from the Feltham works era, £10,000 more than top estimate and strong money, though, and as correctly described, the 66 year old did need some body and structural attention.
An aluminium-panelled 1954 Jaguar XK120 with aero-screens and without bumpers, restored and upgraded with 3.8 motor, was bought for £69,750, £10,000 below the guide. The following lot, a rebuilt and more period-appropriate XK 3.4 engine with C Type head and sand-cast SU carbs, was also bought by the buyer of the 120 for another £13,500.
Shedding their celeb status here were the 1959 Jaguar XK150 3.8 Fixed Head that formerly inspired author James Leasor and realised the required £39,375, and a 1964 Mk2 3.4 Saloon, consigned by actor Robbie Coltrane and benefitting from a Vicarage engine rebuild, that sold for £28,125. An ex-Roger Plant 2002 Audi S8 with 199,800 mileage was acquired by a Led Zepplin fan, one hopes.
A 1987 ‘Fast Ford’ Sierra RS Cosworth 3-Door however did not leave the ground with an insufficient £45,000 on the bids screen, a 1969 Escort Twin Cam ran out road at £44,000 and £22,000 was also not enough to own a 1990 Sierra Sapphire RS Cossie 4-Door with a 4-lamp pod. A close to top estimate £48,938 though did secure a second generation 1977 RS2000 that had been driven just 17 miles since a down to last nut and bolt restoration.
An older restored and very early Austin Mini Seven Deluxe of 1960 vintage was keenly contested by absentee bidders on the internet from Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, North Lancashire and Kent before gavel fall at £12,000, costing the winner £13,500 with premium. The next owner-driver paid the same for a 1957 A35 with Goodwood Revival race history and a Historic Monte Carlo Rally proven 1959 Sunbeam Rapier with model-distinctive rear wing finlets was bon marche for £7875.
Statistical analysis shows that 68 cars (plus an XK120 engine), 70% of the 99 car-related lots, sold for a premium-inclusive £1,753,713, an average of £25,790 spent per classic bought. Although 30 cars were unsold, 26 or 38% of those that did sell had been consigned ‘Without Reserve’. While below lower estimate bids were accepted for 20 or 29% of cars sold, 16 realised within estimate prices and 6 made above estimate money.
Additionally, all eleven motorcycles crossing the virtual block were 100% sold out for £66,713 to absentee bidders, led by a 1986 Ducati 1000cc Mike Hailwood Replica ‘Mille’ with 14,783k on the clock sold for a more than forecast £16,875. While a still healthy £33,750 was accepted for the ‘7 RED’ cherished registration on DVLA Retention.
The Market On-Line Timed-Out -The joint highest sale rate in May (and the highest in April, when 90% of cars they auctioned sold) was the 88% achieved by The Market platform, who had their second most successful month’s trading yet, selling 49 of the 56 cars offered during the month for £866,388, an average of £17,722 without premium, because none is charged. By volume, this was actually the Abingdon based platform’s business month to date, which saw 11 more cars sell during May than they did in April, but the average price paid per car bought fell by £5502 to £17,722.
Among highlight results, £45,751 was paid for a 2007 Land Rover ‘Bespoke’ Defender 110 TD5 Auto Station Wagon and £40,900 for a Cropredy Bridge restored 1975 Jensen Interceptor S3. While £39,500 was paid for for a 1993 Ferrari 348G, £33,700 for a 1983 Porsche 911SC Coupe, £30,000 for a 1981 MGB GT V8 SEC, one of five, and £15,250 for a 1988 Austin Mini Mayfair Auto driven a mere 808 miles by one owner.
While only 6 cars were unsold, and 11 or 22% of cars that sold did so for below their lower estimates, 23 or 46% of cars sold were within estimate and 16 or 32% made more than their top estimates.
Brightwells On-Line Timed-Out - The Herefordshire auctioneers sold another 45 or 66% of the 68 classics catalogued on-line on a timed-out basis 28 May for £529,170 with premium, an average of £11,759 per car. The most bids, 47 no less, were clicked for a No Reserve 1996 BMW 318i E36 1.8 Estate from a deceased estate, which went for £1344, and 43 bids were recorded for a No Reserve 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 5.0 V8, which changed hands for £1904.
38 bids competed for a No Reserve 1997 BW Z3 1.9 and 37 bids for a No Reserve 1991 Vauxhall Nova sold for £1457. 32 bids were made before a 1932 MG F Magna 6-pot 4-Seater, estimated at £10,000-13,000. ran out of time at £19,200 and sold for £21,500 with premium.
Whereas 7 bids did not buy a 1978 Triumph 2500 TC Saloon, estimated at £4000-5000, and 7 more offers were not enough either for a 1900 Renault Alpine GTA V6 Turbo, for which £8000-10,000 was sought in vain. There were 10 bids logged for an unsold 1931 Singer Junior Saloon guided at £4250-6250.
H&H 'Live' On-Line - The North-West vehicle auction firm's latest ‘ABC’ marketed sale (for Automobila, Bikes and Cars) took place 29 May ‘Live’ with Simon Hope on camera in H&H HQ, where proceedings were conducted behind closed doors. All absentee bids were placed by telephone or via the Warrington firm’s own website. Although the cars offered were still with their vendors, entirely adequate still images without videos illustrated each lot.
Without consuming a drop of fuel or spending hours in traffic, punters, on their sofas rather than in their cars, attended on-line, a good proportion of the 473 registered bidders participating from overseas. In less than two hours on a Wednesday afternoon, the absentee audience saw 29 or 60% of the 48 cars sold for £493,042 including premium, a third of them for more than their pre-sale estimates.
Indeed, the headlining result of the auctions reviewed in this mainly May batch of On-Line sales during lockdown was undoubtedly the H&H sale of a 1934 Alvis Speed 20 SB. Though currently still resident in New Zealand, the Vanden Plas bodied 2-Door Sports-Saloon sold to a UK collector, who bid £90,000 and paid £101,250 with premium for a car he had only ever seen on H&H’s Live Auction Online platform, which clearly knows no geographical boundaries. RH-E