The world of classic car auctions is a hotly contested field, with a huge number of sales throughout the year ranging from the ‘everything goes’ to high-end landmark catalogues.
Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a few new entrants come and go, with existing general auction houses adding an occasional classic car sale to their regular calendar, but 2021 looks set to be a buoyant year as two well-known names enter the marketplace.
The first is established Jaguar XJS specialist Clarkes Jaguar, which is already well ahead with plans to establish its new classic auction business. The name of the new venture, Long Barn Vehicle Auctions, is taken from the name of the firm’s East Sussex premises and is ideally suited to the car auction business, since it was originally purpose-built as a motor museum.
“We’ve just had the car park reinstated and we’re ready to roll,” said Dave Clarke when we spoke to him recently, going on to explain that Long Barn will be pitched at the middle of the market – think £25,000-£30,000 cars. Despite the Clarkes’ familiarity with the XJS, Long Barn won’t just be selling Jaguars, with the initial sale in January planned to include a wide variety of different makes and models. In what may be a welcome a first for the industry, a lady auctioneer is already lined up too.
The sale won’t be the first time the premises has hosted a car auction – indeed, a successful sale was held in 1968 – and in more recent years a couple of successful auctions have shown the potential in this part of the world. As Dave points out, the feedback from previous sales threw up an interesting fact that many of the lots hadn’t been seen at previous auctions, so expect some interesting machinery to appear.
Meanwhile, XJS owners needn’t panic, as the sideways move into auctions doesn’t mean that Dave and Dan Clarke will be leaving their favourite Jaguar behind. The restoration and workshop side of the business will continue, with Dave reporting that the weak pound has seen an increase in customers from Europe keen to source a quality left-hand drive XJS – the Czech Republic being an unlikely hotbed of XJS enthusiasm.
A new approach
Hot on the heels of the Long Barn announcement comes the news that Classic Motor cars of Bridgnorth is also to hold its own auction sale. Like Clarkes, CMC is famed for its experience with Jaguars, although firmly at the high end and majoring on cars of the XK and E-Type era.
CMC has added an auction sale to its annual open day on Sunday, May 30 after managing director Nigel Woodward found himself dismayed by seeing a car CMC had previously inspected and judged to be “completely rotten” appear in an auction catalogue described as immaculate.
In an unusual move, CMC is offering all the lots – with the exception of projects and barn finds – with a fresh MoT and also a certificate issued after a road test and inspection by the company.It’s certainly a bold move, which auctioneer Guy Loveridge commenting: “This sale is going to provide a new approach to car auctions in the UK.”
The catalogue will include cars ranging from a 1928 Swallow produced by a pre-Jaguar William Lyons, a barn-find E-Type coupe and a fascinating selection of artefacts from the estate of the late Norman Dewis. In addition to the sale itself, CMC will be holding a valuation and appraisal day for cars, bikes and automobilia.
Could the entry into the auction world of firms previously known for their hands-on skills shake up the market? It’s well known that classic car auctions attract a higher proportion of private buyers than general motor trade car auctions, and so together with owners tiring of online auctions, this could spell a big change in the way mid-market classics are bought and sold.