The Bonhams auction at Cheserex in Switzerland was a highly anticipated one. “The Bonmont Sale”, so named for the abbey (and the castle) that hosted it, with buyers physically in the hall, gave everyone a first real indicator of the state of the market post-Covid. Sure, there was Gooding in London but that was an extremely exclusive auction with truly unique (and very expensive and particular) cars. There was also Bonhams in Brussels but that was a first edition and there was very little to compare it with.
This one, on the other hand, featured very sellable cars, from well-known and “proven” brands with models produced in the thousands that could easily be compared with their equivalents sold before the pandemic.
In reality, merely by looking at the lots, you could have been fooled into thinking it was two different auctions: one for classic cars and another for post-2010 supercars and hypercars. 14 of the 25 supercars and hypercars on offer were sold, equivalent to 56%, at an average price of CHF 413,200. 20 of the pre-2010 cars were sold, equivalent to a very respectable 71.42% but with an average price of CHF 200,357. There is very little to add to this result other than confirming that the supercar and hypercar market is strong right now.
Comparing this result with last year’s event would have been merciless: Whereas last year saw sales in excess of 36 million CHF, this year that number was 7.5 million. This result was very much determined by the cars on offer: in 2019, the Lamborghini Veneno alone sold for 8,280,000 CHF. With 33 cars out of 53 sold (62.26%) and 7,534,225 CHF (compared with an estimate value of 15,940,000 CHF, or slightly less than half) the auction total is actually quite a successful result. Unquestionably it’ll be worth organising a third edition.
Moving on to the cars on offer, as can be quickly deduced from the abundance of modern cars on offer, the most expensive car at the event was a 2012 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport Coupé. Of the 48 SS specification models produced, only a tiny handful had the full carbon fibre body and this was one of them, but the car very quickly became one-of-a-kind when the list of customizations (accessories is too… proletarian) was taken into consideration. Delivered new via Bugatti Gstaad to the current owner, it had covered only 693 km, most of them pre-delivery test miles. Estimated between 1.6 million and 2.1 million CHF, it was sold for 1,840,000 CHF (about €1,700,000)
It should be noted, however, that had this car been sold in any of the neighbouring countries (all part of the European Union), the car would have been subject to custom duties – on average 15-20% – made easier in the US which has a 2.5% tax rate. But it’s more than likely that this model will end up in some Arab country, thanks in no small part to the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) specification, a feature it had in common with a few other cars on sale.
And this got us thinking that even though the event was held in the middle of the Swiss Alps, it had the sand dunes firmly in its sights.
The auction presented two Ferraris that were both very useful indicators of how the Cavallino market is performing and they were both highly anticipated. The first was a 2011 599 GTO. Just like the Bugatti, this one was also a GCC spec car with 1,577 km on the clock, Swiss registration plates and just one owner from new (perhaps the same as the Bugatti). Here too, the list of customizations would fill a small book and it came in the classic red livery with black roof (and suede interior). Estimated at 550-750,000 CHF, it changed hands for just 483,000 CHF (about €448,000), a figure that seemed decidedly low.
Equally unfortunate was the Testarossa. The example for sale was dated 1989 (so with twin-mirrors and the five bolt pattern), and although it was offered in a very pleasant Giallo Modena, originally it was Blu Sera – perhaps the most appropriate colour for this particular model and certainly a colour that enhances its market value – and this, when combined with the specifications of the car for the Swiss market, lowered its value. With just 49,000 km on the clock from new, it had a “light” estimate of 75-95,000 CHF but in the end it changed hands for just 69,000 CHF (about €64,000).
Until recently, these two cars were veritable workhorses for specula… emm… investors who bought anything with a horse on the hood and then sold it on after a few weeks often without even driving them. The time for speculation is over. Collectors are back.
Delving a little deeper into the results in search of some interesting deals without having to go into debt for the next fifteen generations, you could have opted for the 1969 Morgan 4/4 Sports. Equipped with Ford’s 1.6-litre engine, it was one of the rare left-hand drive models. Recently serviced on 10th July 2020 by Garage Anton Brügger AG of Zihlschlacht, Switzerland during which the clutch, ignition, fuel, and braking systems all received attention, it appeared to be in excellent condition. Black with its original red interior, it was estimated at 40 to 60,000 CHF but an eagle-eyed buyer managed to distract everyone as the car went under the hammer. That’s the only plausible way to explain how a car in such good condition went away for 13,800 CHF (€12,800), just one third of its estimate.
But the real “hidden gem” was the 1984 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16. In order to celebrate the reopening of the world’s most famous circuit in 1984 (closed after Niki Lauda’s famous accident) Mercedes organized the “Nürburgring Race of Champions”. The Stuttgart-based company put the steering wheel in the hands of 20 Formula One icons who battled it out in 190E 2.3-16s, making the public go wild. Star drivers of the likes of Lauda, Moss, Prost and Reutemann put in amazing performances, but in the end, victory went to a very promising young man: the late, great Ayrton Senna. The one offered by Bonhams was one of those twenty examples, driven by Manfred Schurti, best known for his exploits at Le Mans (he participated nine times with three class victories) even though he also raced in F1. After the race, the car was so popular that it was purchased by the driver himself. Although the estimate of 90-120,000 CHF and the final sale price of 95,450 CHF (about €88,000) might seem high, the story behind this car is a truly incredible one. How often do you get to say: “this car raced against Senna”?