So what do we know? Only last month, following the Monterey auctions, we were telling everybody that the classic Porsche market had peaked- that there were too many cars flooding the market, and prices were dropping on all but the most exceptional models. Then RM Sotheby’s came along with their London sale, and a 1995 Porsche 911 (993) GT2 sold with a hammer price of £1.85m (including commission). That’s a million pounds more than the model’s previous record sale price.
The moment when the hammer dropped on that sale is the highlight of what has again proved to be an extraordinary month for British auctions. With Bonhams at both Beaulieu and the Goodwood Revival, RM Sotheby’s London in Battersea and the Salon Privé Silverstone Auctions, not to mention the host of smaller events, there has been a huge amount of selling going on. And after a pretty twitchy time post- Brexit, it seems some of the confidence may have returned to the auction floor.
First out of the blocks was Silverstone Auctions at Salon Privé. With an eclectic mix of modern and classic cars, there were some cracking results, especially from the emerging classics. A 1990 Audi Quattro RR Turbo 20v smashed our own Price Guide valuation by selling for £64,130. A BMW E30 M3 from the same year also did very well, costing its new owner a smidgeon under £60,000, as did a 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190 Evo II with 885 miles on the clock, which sold for £202,500. Many more traditional classics did less well, with a number of no-sales, but a very nicely restored 1963 VW Beetle stood out as an exception, selling for £23,060.
Hot on Silverstone’s heels came the Beaulieu sale at the International Autojumble. Bonhams offered the usual mix of projects, affordable classics and bikes, but in amongst them some stars lurked. Talk of the traders’ village was the 1932 Alfa Romeo 1750 with ‘Flying Spur’ coachwork. A stunningly beautiful car, prospective buyers were nonetheless hesitant, and it sold after the auction for £260,000, some £40,000 under low estimate. Another Alfa did particularly well- a right-hand drive 1963 Alfa Romeo 2600 Spider in white, although not entirely original, made a very strong £92,220- higher than our current concours value in the Hagerty Price Guide. Keeping their place at the top of the motorbike stakes, a 1939 Brough Superior SS100 made a strong £133,000 but another previous star waned slightly- a 1968 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage didn’t reach its low estimate of £200,000, even after commission had been added.
RM Sotheby’s London came next. As an event, it eclipsed everything that had gone before- RM really pushed the boat out, and this translated into an amazing sale. The Porsche 993 GT2 was only one of a number of sales that drew audible gasps from the saleroom floor when the hammer fell. The first such car was a 1967 Iso Grifo Series 1 that was in need of total restoration- the body was full of rust and even the wheel spinners were visibly crumbling. Nevertheless, someone paid £128,800 for the car. Then came the Porsches. Reporting live from the event, I was still posting an astonished report of the 1993 911 (964) Turbo S (estimated at up to £250,000 but which cost the owner £974,000) when the GT2 kept rising and rising in value. An insider told me that the prices were so high that Sotheby’s staff investigated the authenticity of the sale. All was totally above-board, just an old fashioned case of two people with deep pockets both wanting a car- the winning bidder apparently having just sold a company.
Finally came Bonhams at the Goodwood Revival. On the day of the auction, the sale room was packed, but numbers were undoubtedly boosted by the biblical deluge that had just descended on the motor circuit. The poster boy of the sale was a 1956 Porsche 550 Rennsport Spyder, (see our video here) beautifully patinated and with a very good history. It was estimated at between £4.7m and £6.2m, and the achieved £4.1m (£4.53 with commission). The other big-hitter a Ferrari 275 GTB did better, the hammer falling right on its upper £1.5m estimate (£1.68m inclusive). Two other cars that caught the eye were a 1967 Aston Martin DB6 Vantage which sold well over estimate at £455,000 including commission and a partially restored, early carburettor Maserati 3500GT coupe (video here) which cost the new owner £135,900 although estimated to fetch between £60,000 and £90,000. We had earlier identified this as a potential high-flyer, as it was a relatively simple project to finish. The dealers in the room seemed to agree.
So what’s the outcome? We think that the RM Porsche results are a bit of an anomaly, in that we seriously doubt other similar examples will reach those values again for some time to come. However, the cars are important as they are part of a wider trend- the really rising stars are now, generally, 1990s models. That said, now that the dust has settled from the Brexit vote, there does seem to be a return to business as usual out on the sale room floors- people still love classic cars, and with almost no other sensible places to put your money, they still don’t seem like a bad option.