The Sàragga sale organized by RM Sotheby’s, a first for the Anglo-Canadian auction house in Portugal, was an exceptional and therefore much anticipated event that saw a single owner’s complete collection of classic cars all offered for sale without a reserve price. Rather like the similar Duemilaruote auction in Italy a couple of years ago, it attracted a host of potential customers not usually seen on the auction “circuit” — individuals with a keen eye for a potential opportunity, who were ready to take the risk of getting carried away by the excitement, and therefore of buying relatively “standard” cars for more than they might usually fetch.
RM Sotheby’s The Sàragga sale – review
The RM Sotheby’s team astutely leveraged the buyers’ expectations, assigning quite low estimates to the more average lots, while going a little higher with the potential top sellers, so as to give the idea that, at current prices, these cars would make excellent purchases. Unsurprisingly, then, many of the 127 lots offered (which included 126 cars) sold for more than their pre-sale estimate.
Although the EUR 10.2 million brought in by this particular sale will ultimately account for an only modest percentage of the total turnover recorded by the main international auction houses in 2019, the fact that all the Sàragga auction lots were sold will certainly raise their overall sale rate slightly.
Many and different cars beaten at the Portuguese auction.
In my view, the Sàragga sale provided confirmation that there is a solid potential market out there, made up of passionate and knowledgeable people who are ready and willing to buy at what is now considered the “right price”, slightly down on the record levels of a few years ago. What is more, these same people, when faced with a truly special car (in terms of its history, condition or both), are prepared to fight for it, even if this means paying over the current average value. Essentially, what all this shows is that condition and history are now the elements providing the best leverage on the market and that, in the future, these elements will be the key to a good sale. Another aspect underlined by this Portuguese sale is that pre-war cars, by many considered a dead market, are not dead at all!
Indeed, the bidding for the 1939 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet by Chapron (sold for EUR 331,250 after an estimate of 400–450 K) turned out to be at least as fierce as that for the 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring. The latter, having generated the most pre-sale interest, sold for EUR 602,375 after a pre-sale estimate of EUR 450–550 K.
Another highlight of the sale was the simply amazing, almost crazy, round of bidding that preceded the sale of the 1972 Alpine Renault A110. Due to the sheer volume of people interested in, and bidding for, this car, it finally sold for almost three times its original estimate.
Overall, the different historical periods represented saw both good and less impressive results, which indicates that market trends do not currently differ greatly between different years of manufacture. The buyer’s premium for this sale was quite high, with payments of up to EUR 200 K subject to 15% commission, plus 12.5% on anything paid above this threshold. As expected, the 1931 Bentley 8-Litre, now dressed in a 1950s Tourer body in place of the original Thrupp & Maberly Limousine one, became the most valuable car of the sale, fetching EUR 680 K, slightly below its pre-sale estimate of EUR 700–800 K. The 1973 Mini 1000, which had been assigned the lowest pre-sale estimate (EUR 5–10 K) was, unsurprisingly, the auction’s least expensive car, coming under the hammer at EUR 4,600.
The six cars we previewed
Three of the six cars we featured in our preview entered the event’s Top Ten, with one of them, the 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring, becoming the second most expensive lot.
The 1956 Lancia Aurelia B24S Convertible by Pinin Farina (7th most expensive car of the sale) sold for EUR 231,125 after an estimate of EUR 220–280 K.
The 1947 HRG Aerodynamic came under the hammer at EUR 165,600 after an estimate of EUR 180–250 K, and therefore just made it into the Top Ten. The 1964 Citroën 2CV 4X4 Sahara (estimate EUR 80–100 K) sold for EUR 71,200. The 1951 DB Type HBR Cabriolet (estimate EUR 70–90 K) fetched EUR 121,900, while the 1937 Bentley 3.5-Litre Sports Saloon by Arnold of Manchester (estimate EUR 50–70 K) sold for EUR 63,250.
The Sàragga sale Top Ten
- EUR 680,000: 1931 Bentley 8-Litre Tourer (chassis #YR5094). This restored, matching numbers car with non-original body came with a documented history (estimate: EUR 700–800 K).
- EUR 602,375: 1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring (estimate: EUR 450-550 K).
- EUR 342,500: 1966 Mercedes-Benz 600 Sedan by Carosserie Chapron (chassis #WDB100012.12.000787). One-off built by Carrosserie Henry Chapron of Paris, featuring a unique full-glass sunroof. It was delivered new to Nubar Gulbenkian. In Portugal since 1972, it was sold from a 30-year single ownership (estimate: EUR 300–400 K).
- EUR 331,250: 1939 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet by Chapron (chassis #60139), matching numbers, original body, sold new in Portugal, where it has remained ever since. Offered with a known history (estimate: EUR 400–450 K).
- EUR 314,375: 1955 WD Denzel 1300 (chassis #DK31). One of the only 65 WD Denzels manufactured, this is one of the around 30 known survivors. This car was offered with just five owners from new, all Portuguese, and with an intense competition history in Portugal. Perfectly restored (estimate EUR 380–450 K).
“The room was packed (…). The attendance was beyond our expectations and we had multiple bidders on every lot, with more than half being completely new to RM Sotheby’s, which is an amazing statistic for any auction”.
Maarten ten Holder, Head of Europe of RM Sotheby’s.