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AUCTION REVIEW 2019

AUCTION REVIEW 2019

Posted by Matt Bell on 2nd January 2020

It’s been another whirlwind year for classics going under the hammer, with ups and downs against a backdrop of continuing political and economic uncertainty. We quizzed the UK’s auction houses over their top sales, favourite lots and highlights of 2019, plus a look into what 2020 may hold. 

Edward Bridger-Stille, Historics at Brooklands

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

It was May at Mercedes-Benz World, grossing £4.6m, where an Aston Martin DB4 and a DB6 were both sold to the same man!

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

We had the most exquisite 3 Litre Bentley in the November sale [sold for £220,740], in long ownership and with impeccable history. It made the front cover of catalogue and we were proud to have it there. It was bought over the telephone which is testament to the integrity of our descriptions.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

A Ferrari Dino at Mercedes-Benz World in May. It was a beautifully prepared Giallo Fly shell but with everything else in boxes. It made £190,000 – not bad for a restoration project.

Auction review 2019

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

I’m a sucker for the oddball pre-war stuff, so when I saw a Liberty aircraft engine bolted to a chassis and an ally shell draped over it, I really felt the spirit of Brooklands was flying high that day –especially when we fired it up and the grass caught fire!

What trends did you notice in 2019?

Everybody is fed up with politics and so we are all just getting on with life. This is borne out by the fact we sold 50-odd cars to new faces in the last two auctions and can rely on a minimum sale rate of at least 70 per cent. We provide a good service with honesty at its heart. This is clearly appreciated.

What are your predictions for 2020?

We have big plans. The team is growing and we have an exciting announcement in the pipeline. Watch this space!

Any other highlights?

It’s been a tough time personally for me recently but the team at Historics have really pulled together to help. So much so, that I am now back on the rostrum, something I never thought I would do again. [Edward broke his back putting up fairy lights in the Christmas of 2017. After five weeks in intensive care and a further six months in a spinal unit, he is now back with Mark at the Historics helm].

Auction review 2019

Chris Holmes, South Western Vehicle Auctions

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

I do not want to sound immodest, but all four sales returned a selling rate well into the 90 per cent bracket and, remember, our entries are restricted to 80 cars.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

The 1959 Austin A105 Westminster Vanden Plas in our October sale, which had an estimate of £8500-£9000 and achieved a hammer price of £27,500 – possibly a world record.

Auction review 2019

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

A 1966 Jensen CV8 Mark 3 in our January sale – a very original car that required a little TLC. Offered without reserve, it achieved a hammer price of £39,000.

What are your predictions for 2020?

We had a very successful year with the market staying strong, and just as with last December, I am going to stick my head above the parapet and predict that 2020 will continue strongly with demand for cars with good provenance, history and originality. Such cars will have a premium above the totally restored vehicle. Next year will be a good one for the real classic car enthusiasts, who are the backbone of our clientele.

Auction review 2019

Damian Jones, H&H Classics

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

Our biggest auctions of the year in terms of turnover were held at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. We went there three times in 2019 selling our catalogue cover car on each occasion: a 1936 Bentley 4½ Litre Vanden Plas Tourer [£454,250], a 1957 AC Ace Bristol [£225,000] and a 1974 Ferrari Dino 246GT [£310,500]

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

The 1936 Bentley 4½ Litre Vanden Plas Tourer was enormously special. One of just six such cars made, it was remarkably original and had had just two owners from new. That said, the 1930 Brough Superior SS100 which established an outright world record at £425,500 was equally memorable.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

Two cars entered into our Live Auction Online sales. The first was a 1978 Ford Fiesta 950 that had covered 141 miles from new and made £14,950, the second a 1993 Toyota Corolla 1.8 GXi was a non-runner but fetched £5,750. The Toyota attracted brickbats from some of our customers, but as a one-owner example that sparked a bidding war among younger enthusiasts, it was a sign of the evolving marketplace.

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

My personal favourite was the 1934 Alvis ‘Twin Eagle’ 6-cylinder Special that I had shared with my father for 20 years. I entered it without reserve in our November Buxton sale and was gratified that it drew bidders from throughout Europe and the UK. I already miss it!

What trends did you notice in 2019?

If a vehicle is fresh to market and sufficiently appealing in terms of originality, condition or provenance (and preferably able to boast all three) then there are still plenty of buyers and record prices are still being achieved. However, overall I would classify the market as cautious and increasingly selective. Some ‘blue chip’ cars are worth more now than they were five years ago (Lamborghini Miura), while others are fetching less (Ferrari 365GTB/4 Daytona). The collector car market is a complex beast and values are never uniformly going up or down. Prices for, and interest in, certain Youngtimers and JDM classics is on the rise, whereas certain pre-WW2 cars are in a steady decline.

What are your predictions for 2020?

The collector car market does not operate in isolation. I do not see the Global Economic Outlook improving much in the next 12 months and so I expect old cars and bikes to continue trading in a cautious and selective manner with the gap between ‘the best’ and ‘the rest’ continuing to grow.

Any other highlights?

One of the sheer joys of working at H&H is the range of vehicles and people we encounter. This past week has seen me sell cars in the low thousands and update the valuation for one of the most significant Ferraris ever made. Working for an auction house is enormously stressful at times but never dull.

Richard Bromell, Charterhouse Auctioneers

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

Out of the five auctions we host every year, one is held in a marquee in the grounds of Sherborne Castle. I’m not sure if the setting of the Capability Brown designed estate helps, but this auction is usually the best and this year it topped over half a million again.

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

I have always fancied a Jensen Interceptor. We had one, which had been modified to a previous owner’s specifications, and it still sold well at over £40,000.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

A car with just three wheels, no floor, and no roof! However, there is not much to dislike about a Messerschmidt KR200, even one that has been barn stored. A no reserve sale tempted its new owner to fly in from Ireland and part with over £14,000 for the privilege of taking it home.

Auction review 2019

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

A Morris Minor convertible – a genuine tourer and just wonderful. Plenty of interest and bidding helped it sell for over £10,000.

What trends did you notice in 2019?

1960-70s Ford Capris and two-door Escorts attract huge interest prior to auction, and Minis still never cease to amaze me. Interest is also climbing for ’80s hot hatches but the market for Land Rovers appears to have softened a little.

What are your predictions for 2020?

I will probably not lose any weight!

Any other highlights?

We seem to be covering a larger area than before, along with a few enquiries from abroad. It’s all very exciting.

Matthew Parkin, Brightwells

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

Our two-day November sale was undoubtedly our biggest and best. We sold 252 vehicles and have never had so many people onsite – the place was literally mobbed.

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

A proper barn-find Aston Martin DB4, which we found just a few miles away from the office. It sold for over £210,000 in a totally dismantled state.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

In July we sold a magnificent 1909 Maudslay which exceeded our estimate by some margin. It was a wonderful car, but early Edwardian isn’t perhaps the most fashionable genre at the moment, so we were very happy with the result.

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

For me, the 1923 Vauxhall 30-98 has been my personal favourite. Its Mulliner two-seater skiff coachwork was so pretty and its condition beautifully mellowed – not to mention its fascinating history having been driven across the world in the 1930s. In my spare time I am registrar for the 30-98 model, so I guess I would have to choose this one!

What trends did you notice in 2019?

Prices have dipped in 2019, especially among the conventional ‘investment cars’ such as Ferraris, Porsches and certain Jaguars. Values of the more general classics, those purchased by enthusiasts rather than investors have also pulled back a little but are still keenly fought over and the market for them is stable. Interest in modern classics has also dipped, but this is probably more of a supply and demand thing as values rose so quickly a year or more ago. Barn finds continue to attract huge interest and premiums if they are the right thing.

What are your predictions for 2020?

Next year I suspect will be much of the same. Buyers can now be choosy, so average LHD imports with the wrong spec will be especially difficult to sell. For the main though, sellers seem to have adjusted to the new values and are willing to sell for what is now the new price. There are plenty of sellers, and so if the sales have lots of variety to offer, business will remain good.

Any other highlights?

2019 has been one of our busiest and best since we started selling classics in 2005. We have plenty of interesting vehicles already on the books for next year so we are very optimistic about what Brightwells will have to offer next year.

James Johnson, Hobbs Parker

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

July was the biggest auction of the year although both were buoyant for sales. We had some really interesting entries in both.

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

It was a headline not for its value but for its provenance was the one-owner-from-new Mini Traveller we sold in July.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

Not a vehicle but a huge collection of Mini parts, many of them new old stock. The interest was mind blowing and bidding furious.

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

There were several but my two picks would be the 1951 MG TD that had been off the road since 1978, and the 1964 Bentley S3.

What trends did you notice in 2019?

I would say interest is still very strong, prices for exceptional cars were still exceptional, but buyers were a little choosier.

What are your predictions for 2020?

I predict the classic market will remain very buoyant – the challenge will remain finding the stock. And talking of stock, we will be hosting three classic auctions next year!

Any other highlights?

We sold a Routemaster double-decker bus that had been converted to be an exhibition vehicle. It was a great addition to our October auction.

Keith Murray, Morris Leslie

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

We attract over 150 lots per classic auction every quarter, with the February and November auctions inherently the busiest – but not by much. We usually get 1000-1500 people in the building. People treat the sales as an event in their own right, as well as an auction.

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

We’ve loved them all! We had something to suit all enthusiasts, from Porsche, Ferrari and E-Types topping £60,000 to restoration projects and everything in between. Every time the phone rings with consignments there is an air of excitement in the office as details of cars that have lain undiscovered for years unfold.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

They find their level, but sometimes two people will fight it out over a particular lot. The beauty of online bidding is that it attracts people from all over the world.

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

I quite liked the Alvis, which had its decanter and glasses set with it. There was also the Cortina Lotus, a Mini Cooper S, a BMW Alpina and even a developmental, one-off Triumph Dolomite 1300 SE.

What trends did you notice in 2019?

The people the cars and the stories are all unique and make the job very interesting – 2019 was no different. We anticipate no change as we look forward to 2020.

Derek Mathewson, Mathewsons

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

Our auction following the first episode of Bangers & Cash was a wake-up call concerning publicity and the power of TV!

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

Probably the Aston Martin DB6 [sold in August for £126,500]. A genuine barn find, it was well known locally and drew interest from far and wide. It found a new home with a most genuine enthusiast who sent it direct to a specialist Aston restorer.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

A 1983 Talbot Sunbeam Lotus. It can’t be called a barn find because sadly it wasn’t stored in a barn but just outside the owner’s back door, uncovered, slowly disintegrating.

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

My favourite entry was the Bentley S3 from France. It was covered by the Bangers & Cash film crew from start to finish including the ferry crossing, with amazing, lovely and welcoming French vendors and a Scottish purchaser who not only was the right man for it but also the proud owner of some beautiful cars and motorcycles.

Auction review 2019

What trends did you notice in 2019?

The trend for 2019 was no real surprise in that buyers appear to be far more comfortable in attending the auctions. We think this is generated by the fact that more sales are conducted by provincial auction houses and fewer in the west end of London.

What are your predictions for 2020?

Whilst it is my belief that most members of the classic movement are in favour of leaving the EU it must be understood, and it is, that we are no doubt in for a difficult few years before we reap the benefits. Fortunately, most classic car buyers have the type of money on tap in a situation whereby they are not market dependent. I have seen inflated values crash three times – overvalued vehicles will suffer again!

Any other highlights?

The TV aspect, often embarrassing, but is generally good fun. The secret is not to take it all too seriously!

Auction Review 2019

Brian Chant – DCVA

What was your biggest or most remarkable auction of 2019?

For me, there’s no doubt that the standout DVCA auction came in July – our 50th sale since our first in 2006.

What was your headline vehicle sale of the year?

This undoubtedly came at the 51st auction in November, where a 1965 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray convertible showing only 22,349 miles and comprehensive history sold for £45,100.

Which consignment was your biggest surprise?

The 1938 Rover P2 10 Two Door Coupe, first registered in Coventry to a director of the Rover company, which sold for £16,500 after determined bidding. It was a rare version of the last small Rover to be built.

Auction Review 2019

Which consignment has been your personal favourite?

During the Golden Jubilee sale, a 1957 Austin-Healey 100/6 modified to follow much the same driving ethos as my own 1954 Bentley R-Type that I use a lot, sold for £52,250 to a local buyer. I can still hear it if I listen hard!

What trends did you notice in 2019?

The market is not at big money right now for everyday cars because of the political uncertainty that has endured for some time and deepened this year. People can be jittery about spending money, although getting them into an auction tent thankfully gees them up

What are your predictions for 2020?

It’s difficult to have 2020 vision about next year. We need to see where the political path takes us and if buyers gain confidence. Concerns over clean air zones and the continuity of E5 fuel supplies will also worry enthusiasts who buy cars to use them regularly.

Any other highlights?

The two Packard Super 8 Touring Limousines – one selling in July for £7480 and the other, a 1936 car, finding a new home for £6600. I’ve previously sold another so it will be interesting to see how these buyers react to the consignment of Packard Super 8 spares destined for our March 2020 sale.