“Millionaires stay away!”, they should have put up a sign saying this outside the ACA auction at the end of February in Norfolk (UK). Anglia Car Auctions is one of the best kept secrets of the English auction scene, a veritable delight for true enthusiasts where, if you happen to be carrying a 1.5 inch spanner in your pocket you can make yourself more than a few new friends.
With 169 cars on offer for a total value of just €1,520,500 (£1,310,000) – an average of around €9,000 (£7,751) per car – it was a haven for DIY enthusiasts looking to buy a car and fully restore it. This auction house organizes classic cars sales like this four or five times a year. The atmosphere is not too distant from a cattle auction, with each car coming in and doing a quick spin, bidders on stalls made from galvanized steel making offers without too much fuss and storytelling. And away it goes, and on to the next lot.
ACA once again brought home a successful result: 92.9% of the cars on offer selling at 129.77% of their original value, thirty percent above their estimates, made for a very healthy balance sheet. You might say that €1,974,000 (£1,700,706) in total is less than a Ferrari 275 GTB/4. But the enthusiasm and the 157 happy buyers might beg to differ.
Due to the success of the auction, the average price per lot far exceeded the expected price of £7,751, or around €9,000, jumping to €12,500 (£10,828) in the end, but these prices are always very reasonable. To illustrate my point I’d like to show you the range of cars on offer above this threshold and also below the average. Which one do you prefer?
We recently mentioned microcars and at ACA there was a small group of them but the Bond Bug 700ES from 1973 was the one that made the most commotion. Three wheels, orange with black interior (very 70s) and “sporty” wheels, it sat firmly in the middle ground between “very sweet” and “very silly”. It certainly wasn’t for the buyer who takes life too seriously. And yet the seller had taken his “nut and bolt” restoration very seriously last year on a car that had been stationary since 1977, as a result the 40,000-miles on the clock were more than credible, with just 700 made after the restoration had been completed. Although you wouldn’t have thought so, this car brought buyers to Norfolk in droves, each one with a knife between their teeth. Despite the absence of a reserve price, it changed hands for €34,000 (£29,160), a price you’d expect to pay for a car… with four wheels.
Alongside the €34,000 (£29,160), it’s almost unbelievable that no-one offered more than €10,650 (£9,180) for a magnificent 2004 Maserati Quattroporte. A sublime design by Pininfarina that is still fresh after almost 20 years. The 4.2 V8 engine under the hood develops 400hp and was produced by Ferrari. With a list price of £81,000 and no fewer than five owners, the car had covered just 65,000 miles with all services (until 2018) carried out at specialist workshops, however the maximum estimate of €11,600 (£10,000) was a long way off.
The famous mid-1960s Volkswagen Beetle advertisement “Size Matters”, poked fun at the mammoth dimensions of the American cars of the time and their lack of practicality. Perhaps, by stretching the wheelbase of a 1963 example out of proportion, they were inspired by this slogan in reverse. Used mainly for weddings, where its four doors and white colour scheme (with white interior) provided considerable space for newlyweds, the person who bought it took home an icon full of memories. Sold for €15,700 (£13,500), perfectly in the middle of the initial estimate of €14,000 (£12,000) and €17,500 (£15,000).
Speaking of big American cars, a special mention should go out to the 1970 Cadillac Eldorado Coupé, a road-going giant: 8,200cc engine producing 400hp, 5.61 metres long, 2.03 meters wide and a curb weight of 2220 kg. Numbers that make a modern SUV pale by comparison. The example offered arrived in 2003 in England and since then has had four owners. In 2016 the exhaust was replaced with a stainless steel pipe (at a cost of £960) and in the last four years it has travelled only 1,800 miles. Estimated at €8,500-€11,000 (£7,500-9,500), it changed hands below its estimates at €8,150 (£7,020). Or in other words, €3.67 or £3.16 per kg…