After seeing million-dollar cars being auctioned off during Amelia Island, it’s refreshing to discover that you don’t have to be a wealthy heir or a successful young entrepreneur to own some fun cars. All thanks to H&H and its auction on 15th March in Duxford, England.
Today, the only “big” numbers I’ll write are: 114 cars offered (of which 17 were without reserve), 79 sold (69.30%), £3,861,000 (€4,393,600) in pre-sale estimates, and £2,600,369 (€2,959,075) in final takings. As you can see, the average price was well within the reach of many: £32,916 (€37,455).
But the best surprises came from the cars themselves.
The first lot of the sale was a 1967 MGB Roadster, a very ordinary B that, until today, has never appeared on the TCCT analysis radar. In my life, I have owned two. This was a first series car, which I prefer by a long shot, without the rubber bumpers and Rostyle rims, painted in its original combination, red with black interior. Lovingly kept by the same owner since 1991, it was offered without reserve and sold for £9,900 (€11,265). It’s a very common model, so it’s unlikely to increase dramatically in value in future. But taking home a well-known classic 60s roadster that’s a bundle of fun for a four-figure price tag… What else can you ask for? Maybe it’s time to own a third MGB.
The alternative could be an Austin-Healey Sprite. Although the later series are more powerful, with better grip and safety features, I would bet on the MkI, better known as Frogeye (or Bugeye in the USA) which looks very nice. H&H had a 1958 Frogeye “resto-mod” on sale: a 1275cc engine with upgraded belt cam drive, hotter cam and gas-flowed head, a Ford Sierra 5 speed gearbox, and a hardtop with the Union Jack! As for the colour, I don’t think red is a flattering choice on this car; I would have gone for something far more “cartoonish”, like light yellow or blue, for example. Compared to the MGB, the estimate of £14,000-£18,000 and its selling price of £17,438 (€19,850) is a significant step up, but the difference was justified by a restoration carried out on the Frogeye just a couple of years ago.
Looking for even more? Well, why not consider the 1998 Lotus Elise S1? The one up for sale here came from the same collection as the MGB (we have similar tastes) and had remained in the hands of the same owner since new, having covered just 11,400 miles. The colour scheme was spot on: Lotus Racing Green Metallic with Black upholstery. The real fun, however, was all in driving it. Although it had not been used for some time, it passed its MOT test with flying colours and was now back on the road for another year. Once again, it was offered without reserve and sold for £25,200 (€28,675).
Speaking of the cars I would have taken home, I forgot to mention the most expensive ones. The top lot was a 1937 Lagonda LG45 Tourer (estimated at £180,000-£200,000) which sold for £195,667 (€222,650), but the one that stole the show was the 1968 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow DHC whose first owner was none other than Michael Caine.
Fun fact: until he was 35, the famous actor not only didn’t have a car but he also didn’t have a driving license, but after taking home a nice little earner for Gambit, he immediately got himself a Rolls Royce! Just a couple of years later, it changed owners. The car was splendid, but in this case, you bought its story. The estimate of £100,000-£150,000 was more than double an equivalent model. It changed hands for £135,000 (€153,600), which is correct in my opinion.
In the “restoration project” section, H&H proposed two options for very ambitious individuals. Which would you have bet on: a 1924 Rolls Royce 20hp DHC or a 1969 Aston Martin DBS, both needing to be rebuilt from scratch?
Perhaps the market would eventually reward the more recent model, but before taking the plunge, you need to bear in mind the cost differences: the pre-war Rolls Royce already had a restored chassis, an almost finished body, a working engine (and a second one as backup), while the Aston Martin had a longer road ahead: the (not matching) engine needed to be reassembled, the chassis plate was missing, and the work would have cost over £200,000 in the end. However, the Rolls Royce was sold for £13,500 (€15,360), and the Aston Martin went for £5,750 (€6,650). Of course, this was just the beginning…
Something interesting could also be found from an investment point of view. Consider (and possibly buy) the 1995 Nissan Skyline R33, a rare V-Spec version with a manual gearbox and just 68,255 miles on the clock. Of course, it had been stationary since 2017, and the “small changes” may well have been hiding some unexpected flaws. However, with prices of this model skyrocketing, paying somewhere between £24,000 and £28,000 seemed like a good deal. Nevertheless, the hammer came down at £20,250 (€23,045), and someone took home the deal of the century.
Do we want to go all out and focus on an Ultima GTR? It has a 5.7 V8 Chevrolet engine, producing 350 BHP and weighing in at 1,080 kg. It featured butterfly doors and came in a striking Yellow with a contrasting Black Alcantara interior. Purchased as a kit in 1998, the car was assembled over several years, which explains why this car was registered just last year, in 2022 (even though official production of the GTR ceased in 2018). It is the ultimate track day car, capable of outperforming hypercars such as the Bugatti Veyron and Ferrari Enzo on the track. At £43,875 (€49,925), it’s also a steal (although it sold well within its estimated range of £38,000-£45,000).