Market Analysis

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



34.7% of cars auctioned sold for over their top estimates and more 1980s cars have crossed physical and virtual auction blocks than ever before, while 1990s cars have been the most numerous and cars from the 2000s the most likely to sell. Porsches and Aston Martins have dominated The Top 100

The Hagerty Price Guide – which Classic Auction Review surfers can access via clicking onto the Hagerty logo among ‘The Really Useful Services’ on our Home Page - actively tracks market values so owners, as well as buyers and sellers, have an accurate picture of their car's worth. This latest crunching of results provides a market overview for the first 6-months of 2021 and reveals the trends and fluctuations recorded over that time. RH-E

The following are the headlines, and the numbers behind them -

More cars are being offered in auctions and more have been selling than ever before

Sell-through rate is up significantly compared with last year (80.5 per cent compared with 70.7 per cent in 2020). The number of cars offered is also up: the International Collector Vehicle Insurance Broker analysts have tracked 4019 this year so far (4666 in the whole of 2020). This is probably the result of two factors: the COVID-19 constraints that prevented a lot of live auctions last year, and an increase in Hagerty’s ability to track data which means they can now monitor more of the market than previously.

The popularity of ‘Fair’ condition cars is notable: these are not perfect, but drivable and worth less than other examples. That these are so popular supports the Hagerty view that the boom since the Covid lockdown has been led by enthusiasts rather than investors.

Noteworthy, too, is the number of cars selling over expected price. This is a combination of more realistic pre-sale estimates and demand fuelling higher prices.

Whilst the sell-through rate – how many cars offered to market that actually sell – is up significantly compared even with last year, climbing from 70.7 per cent to 77 per cent.

Average prices of classics sold in auction are rising

The average sale price in 2020 was £38,984 and, this year so far, it has been £45,648. This is unexpected: the big-value sales in the UK have traditionally taken place in the second half of the year. So on the auction form of previous years, that figure may rise even further by the end of the December 2021 sales.

More cars are now selling for better prices than their pre-sale auction estimates

This year, 34.7 per cent of cars sold for over their top estimate, compared with 17.9 per cent in 2020. The number selling for under their low estimate has fallen, too, to 24.7 per cent, versus 39.5 per cent last year.

The proportion of 1980s cars offered in auctions has risen the most

Hagerty have always said that so-called ‘Modern Classics’ are hot property and going places. The latest data appears to bear that out. Last year, 14.6 per cent of cars offered were from the 1980s. This year to date, 16.4 per cent. That’s the biggest gain per decade.

1990s cars are still the most numerous auctioned

In the first six months of this year, 1990s cars accounted for 18.1 per cent of the cars offered; last year, 17.5 per cent. Both were the top figure per decade auctioned.

More modern cars from ‘The 2000s’ were most likely to sell at auction

An impressive 85 per cent of post 2010 cars and 81.5 per cent of cars from the 2000s sold when offered, repeating a similar pattern from last year.

Cars that were Price Guide rated as being in only ‘Fair’ condition cars were most in demand

Of the cars rated against the Hagerty Price Guide conditions, those of condition 4 ‘Fair’ had the best sell-through rates at 81 per cent. Restoration cases were the worst; only 39.3 per cent of those sold.

Year to date, Bonhams has sold the most expensive motor car in an auction

A 1937 Bugatti Type 57 sold at their New Bond Street sale in February for £4,047,000 including premium. It had been off the road and out of sight for the past 50 years, and was one of only 42 produced. Despite its age, it was described as in exceptional condition, with largely intact black paintwork, cream leather interior and original coachwork.

“This Sleeping Beauty was certainly one of the most important pre-war Bugattis – and possibly the last hidden example – to be auctioned in recent years, with other known 57S Bugattis already in museums or known collections,” said Sholto Gilbertson, Director at Bonhams Motor Cars UK.

Gooding dominated the UK Auction Top Ten during the first half of 2021

Of the top ten cars sold at UK-based auctions tracked, Gooding & Company sold seven of them, Bonhams two and Collecting Cars one.

These were the top prices paid January to July 2021, eight out of ten selling On-Line with no punters present

1937 Bugatti Type 57 Bonhams New Bond Street 19 Feb £4,047,000
1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Gooding & Co On-Line 5 Feb £2,750,000
1969 Ford GT40 Gooding & Co On-Line 18 June £2,508,000
1960 Aston Martin DB4 GT Bonhams New Bond Street 19 Feb £1,975,000
1967 Ferrari 275GTB/4 Gooding & Co On-Line 5 Feb £1,870,000
1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Gooding & Co 5 On-Line Feb £935,000
1963 Aston Martin DB5 Fixed Head Gooding & Co On-Line 5 Feb £836,000
2006 Porsche Carrera GT Collecting Cars On-Line 16 May £771,500
1990 Porsche 962C Gooding & Co On-Line 18 June £759,000
1968 Lamborghini Miura Gooding & Co 18 June £737,000
Only the top priced Bugatti and the 4th placed DB4GT were sold in a 'Live' traditional auction saleroom setting. How times have changed - just possibly forever?

Aston Martin and Porsche meanwhile dominated the Top 100

A cool 30 of the top 100 cars sold in UK sales meanwhile were Porsche, 24 were Aston Martins, and Ferrari took the 3rd step on the podium with 14. The Porsche figures though were certainly boosted by the dispersal of a 38-car Collection on the Collecting Cars platform in May.

Auctions Market overview

John Mayhead, Editor of the Hagerty UK Price Guide, reports: “The first half of 2021 has been a fascinating time in the classic and collector market. The popularity of ‘Fair’ condition cars is really notable: these are not perfect, but are drivable and worth less than other examples. That these are so popular supports our view that the boom since the Covid lockdown has been generated by enthusiasts rather than investors.

“The number of cars selling over expected price is fascinating: this is a combination of more realistic pre-sale estimates and demand fuelling higher prices. Whilst the number of Aston Martins in the top 100 sales is also very notable: for the last couple of years, we’ve seen many Aston Martins struggle at auction.”

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