Sometimes inconvenient timing cannot be avoided. Take this month’s Goodwood Festival of Speed Bonhams auction- the date of Friday 24th June was set in stone long before the ‘Brexit’ referendum date was known. And so, on the morning of the sale, with the country awaking to the news that Brexit was a reality, the Bonhams staff just had no option but to go along for the ride and see where it would take them.
That morning I spoke to a number of dealers, auction commentators and collectors. I can honestly say that none of them really had the first idea what was going to happen when the auction opened. On the one hand, some theorised that the weak pound would make cars attractive to Euro and Dollar buyers. Others suggested the market was in such a state of flux that buyers would sit on their hands.
Actually, as is often the case, the reality was a bit of both. The first 32 cars over the rostrum sold fairly well- only ten not finding a buyer, and a fair number gaining more than expected. In particular, a rare 3 ½ Litre 1938 Jaguar SS100 achieved a hammer price of £300,000 (£337,500 all-in), significantly more than the top estimate of £260,000.
However, then came the event that all auctioneers dread- a succession of cars, all of which failed to meet their reserve. The catalogue cover star, a rare right-hand drive Ferrari 275 GTB/6C, also avoided a change of ownership.
Had word of the plunging pound reached the floor? Had buyers decided to flock from the tent? Not really. These were mainly a group of good cars that would usually make up high-end dealer stock. But the market has had a lot of cars like this recently, plus there was an element of bad luck- the non-sellers all happened to be next to one another.
So, a few weeks on from the Brexit decision, and what’s happening. Not a great deal, as far as we can tell. The UK Hagerty Price Guide has just been updated (see full analysis next month) and at first glance the market is flat, with roughly 70% of values unchanged or down on what they were in April. However, when you speak to dealers, restorers and our own classic insurance operatives, they all tell the same story: they are as busy as ever.
Back at the start of this year, we predicted that the market would cool, with lots of ‘investors’ leaving the market due to uncertainty. We said that 2016 would be the year that the enthusiasts took charge of the market once again, buying for the love of the car rather than any monetary gain. We’re standing by that prediction; Brexit, if anything, has just sped things up.
What effect, if any, do you think Brexit will have on classic car values? Do you care? Tell us in the comments below!