28 07 2016

Brexit: What Does This Mean for Classic Car Values?

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!

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4 reader comments

  • 1
    mike cain Bedfordshire July 24, 2017 at 2:42pm
    I entered a car into the chateau impney sale and it didn't sell, in fact only 4 out of the 75 actually sold on the day!
  • 2
    Tony Sheach Sandhurst July 24, 2017 at 2:42pm
    Hi all My observation is that indeed enthusiasts are returning to the market, particularly in the case of more popular 'non everyday' classics such as Alfa's and British Sportscars and in particular competition cars. Recent interest in a number of Triumph TR's I have sold has been more intensive than I expected and each of the number of buying parties was a well informed enthusiast / private individual, rather a dealer or speculator. This is good for the market and indicates to me some solidity. Also, a number were paying in Euros, getting a lot more for their money over the last month - I've been selling for a few months now and this says to me that the UK market is being inflated by more dealers seeking a profit that it car bear. Non selling cars of similar type are evidence of this. All the best Tony
  • 3
    mark revelle england July 24, 2017 at 2:42pm
    The drop in the value of the pound sterling means that, all else being equal, it would now cost a US buyer $132,000 to buy what this time last year was a $155,000 (£100,000) car in the UK. Once nerves have settled (assuming UK prices hold up and any new import duties are not too fierce in Europe) isn't that quite an incentive to buy?
  • 4
    Ian Hawthorne Hampshire July 24, 2017 at 2:42pm
    Cars will leave this country for europe and the states.When the China market for classic cars comes up to speed whatch them leave the country by the boat load vastly increasing prices