29 August 2013

Auction Analysis: Top sales and July round-up

The ‘Movers and Shakers’ in the latest batch of European sales analysed by auctions commentator and Hagerty data collector Richard Hudson-Evans

When the Fangio-driven Grand Prix Mercedes Benz W196R was sold 12 July during the Goodwood Festival of Speed Sale by Bonhams Chairman Robert Brooks after a winning bid of £17.5m could not be bettered (amounting to a premium-inclusive £19,601,500, or U.S. $29,650,095/22,701,864 euros), the 1964 F1 Single Seater not only became the top-priced Mercedes of all time, but also the world’s most valuable motor vehicle ever to be sold at auction.

[Editor’s Note: A Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S joined the ranks of valuable auction cars when RM Auctions sold it for U.S. $26.5 million at its annual sale in Monterey, Calif. This car will be detailed in the August auction analysis.]

Only two months ago, the 1953 Ferrari 340/375 MM ‘Competizione’ Coupe sold by RM for 9,856,000 euros (£8,377,600/$12,402,500) on the grounds of Villa Erba beside Lake Como had been in second place on the most expensive auction car chart, but has now been demoted to third behind the previous record-holding and now second-placed 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa Prototype sold for $16,390,000 (£10,086,400) by Gooding at Pebble Beach in August 2011.

As I write this, in fourth spot therefore is a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold for 9,020,000 euros (£7,757,200/$12,402,500) by RM at Maranello in May 2009 and fifth, a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Roadster hammered away for $11,770,000 (£7,650,500) by Gooding at Pebble Beach last August 2012. The sixth priciest auction car is now a 1960 Ferrari 250GT LWB California Competizione Spider sold for $11,275,000 (£7,328,750) by Gooding at Pebble Beach in August 2012, and seventh, a 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Race Coupe sold for $11,000,000 (£7,150,000) by RM at Monterey August 2012.

Eighth placed top auction car is a 1961 Ferrari 250GT SWB California Spyder sold for 7,040,000 euros (£5,598,208/$10,894,400) by RM at Maranello May 2008. Ninth, the 1931 Duesenberg Model J LWB ‘Captain George Whittell Jnr’ Coupe sold for $10,340,000 (£6,721,000) by Gooding at Pebble Beach August 2011 – and 10th, the 1931 Bugatti Type 41 Royale sold for £5,500,000($9,764,585) by Robert Brooks when working for Christie’s at the Albert Hall, London, back in November 1987.

Among other milestone results for the market clocked up at Goodwood in July during what added up to be a £36.5M afternoon, and an all-time European record for a collector vehicle sale, during which 85% of the contents of the Bonhams catalogue sold, were the 1955 Sebring 12 Hours third-placed Maserati 300S Sports-Racer that sold for £4,033,500, not only a world record price for the model, but also a new high for a Maserati at auction; the ex-works team 1953 Mille Miglia and Le Mans raced Austin-Healey 100 ‘Special Test’ car that recorded a £785,500 result, the second highest price ever paid for an Austin-Healey (Bonhams sold the sister car for £843,000 in December 2012); the 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 Series 1 Berlinetta’s £359,900 price, double the lower estimate, which was boosted by the Beatles provenance of first ownership by John Lennon; and the ex-Sir John Whitmore, Alan Mann Racing, 1965 European Touring Car Championship-winning Ford Lotus Cortina Mk1 Competition Saloon that was also applauded for achieving £183,500, with premium.      

If the next results at major sales follow this form and other recent valuations determined under the hammer, however, then many of these top 10 auction prices may very well be overtaken during August’s high octane-fuelled events on the Monterey Peninsula in California. For at the top end at least, in terms of the prices realised that have been monitored by HAGI and their various indices, all marques continue to appreciate, the HAGI Top Index rising by another 4.71% in July alone, making it a 27.05% increase for the year to date. Once again, though, the HAGI F Index has outperformed the other indices, putting on 5.10% during the last month’s trading to rise by a bullish 34.31% for the year so far, which those of a nervous disposition will tell you will be hard to sustain.

On the Wednesday 17 July following Goodwood, in another well-attended £1.08M afternoon many miles from a Motorway at Leominster in Herefordshire, Brightwells successfully shifted 89 classics of the 117 entered, a 76% sale rate. Among them, a previously restored 1974 Ford Capri Mk1 RS3100 sold for £26,400, a 341bhp 1987 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth 3-Door in show condition for £25,300, a freshly rebuilt 1972 Triumph TR6 on Webers for £21,450, a £35k revived 1954 Triumph TR2 for £18,920, a £20k restored 1968 MGC Roadster for £17,160, and an upgraded 1972 Hillman Avenger Tiger Mk2 Saloon for £13,200.

Sunday 21 July, under the sunshade of the Charthouse auction tent in the grounds of Sir Walter Raleigh’s former pad, Sherborne Castle, record business was done by the Dorset auctioneers, who sold 84% of their clients’ bikes and 79% of the cars, the 45 vehicles grossing £483,360. Apart from a two-owner 1966 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage manual with numbers still matching making £147,400, within the estimate band, and a 1957 Morris Minor Saloon that had been converted into a droptop making a nonsensical £12,100, the most newsworthy performers were the projects.

For example, a 1949 Bristol 400, upgraded to Zagato 406 specification in 1960 with 110 engine, disc brakes and overdrive gearbox, but in a likely-to-be-incomplete state of what clearly had been unloved abandonment, was taken on for a generous £31,900. Whilst an only two private owner 1966 Austin Mini Cooper Mk1 1275S with matching numbers, inactive for 20 years and requiring extensive re-commissioning, if not full restoration, raised a quite extraordinary £30,800, considerably more than many well-restored examples have been fetching earlier this summer.

The very next night, 22 July at Hotel Hermitage in Monaco, four of the 57 results in a 97% sold Artcurial sale, which grossed 2,834,910 euros (£2,438,023), made blips on this market monitor’s screen. A 1965 AC Cobra 427, one of 260 made with the CSX chassis number, although re-bodied during the 1990s by Autokraft in the UK, sold for a within-estimate 427,050 euros (£371,534) and a ‘Stradale’ version of the 1976 Lancia Stratos, which, incredibly, had been spared all forms of maximum attack both in period or retrospective competition, fetched 304,200 euros (£264,654). Only a very few summers ago, £70,000 would have been a most satisfactory result for a standard Stratos.

Much more bizarre, though, were the Med-side performances of a couple of peasant-mobiles which would struggle to even turn one head on a rainy day in Scunthorpe. For example, a 1963 Citroën Ami 6 with 19,545k on the odometer pulled a Casino busting 30,760 euros (£26,761) and a 1995 ‘British Open’ edition of a Rover era Mini 1275 with 28,400k displayed also amazed by attracting 26,910 euros (£23,412).

By Wednesday, the H&H gavel was determining 79 more changes of ownership from the 111 classics on offer at the Pavilion Gardens, Buxton in Derbyshire, where a 71% sale rate was logged during a £1,135,835 afternoon. For while the ice cream flowed in more unseasonal sunshine outside, both big ticket Bentleys sold in the hall. A 1936 4¼-Litre Shortened-Chassis Special achieved £107,350 under the hammer and a 1928 4½-Litre that had been re-bodied with 4-Seater Tourer coachwork by James Pearce during the 1980s sold post-sale for an unpublished sum, but thought to have been circa £435,000.

The surviving Jaguar XJ220 Development Prototype from 1999, which had not sold earlier in the year, but was being auctioned this time ‘Without Reserve’, was hammered away for £72,800 with premium. And among the more affordable, but less fashionable Wolseleys on offer in the Peak District, a 1936 Hornet Special with Eustace Watkins ‘Daytona’ 2/4-Seater coachwork, though with bonnet and wings renewed in aluminium, found £29,120, close to top estimate money, and a cosmetically sharpened 1947 10 Saloon with ‘WOL 10’ registration £14,560, £2500 more than the top estimate. 

The sale rate held up well on the Friday 26 July morning at SWVA at Parkstone, near Poole, where 38 or 84% of the 45 pop-priced classics driven past the rostrum sold for £113,239. The following day, during the Silverstone Classic meeting, another 46 cars or 55% of the 84 in the Silverstone Auctions catalogue sold for £2,024,132.

Apart from the ‘No Reserve’ 1965 Aston Martin DB5 sold for £366,625, considerably more than the guide price, other movers also shook the editorial tree. A Jaguar XK150S 3.4 Roadster left hooker that had been barrel-rolled at Bonneville when new in 1958, and had been rebuilt and was now mint with only 500 claimed to be genuine mileage, sold for £196,875. Whilst the final Honda NSX Targa manual delivered to the UK in 2005 made £78,750, an auction record for a standard model.

Three Porsche prices at Silverstone were also noteworthy for 911 watchers — a 1974 Carrera 2.7 Targa at £49,500, mid-estimate, and a 1988 930 Turbo Targa at £44,438 and a 1971 911E 2.4 Targa at £39,375, both more than forecast. A 1990 Lister-Jaguar XJS 7-Litre Le Mans Cabrio on steroids made £40,725, too, £8725 above the guide price, and a remarkably unmolested, though cosmetically wanting 1967 Ford Lotus Cortina Mk1 £37,688, £15,688 more than top estimate and strong money for a post-1965 FIA cut-off Cortina Twin Cam that was ripe for full restoration.

Another over-served month on the European auction circuit ended at Sandown Park, Esher, where Barons oversaw 32 more changes of classic car ownership during a 56 vehicle sale where 57% of the catalogue contents sold for £287,600. A 2000 Bentley Continental R Mulliner Wide Body topped the sellers at £40,700 pursued by a £36,300 1978 Aston Martin V-8 Oscar India manual, concluding what has been another long month on the road for this Correspondent.

The July 2013 numbers crunch as follows – for while the success rates achieved by the 8 auctioneers ranged from 55-97%, 423 cars or 73% of the total of 577 offered sold for £44.05m. Although 154 auction entries, 27% of the total, failed to meet their vendors’ reserves. And thanks to the inflationary impact of the Fangio Merc on the stats, the average amount spent per classic at auction during the month rose to £104,133.

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