The world of historic cars could almost be divided into two main categories: collectors and enthusiasts. The first is populated by people who have healthy wallets and do their “job” impeccably and meticulously. Enthusiasts, on the contrary, just want to have fun driving their historic cars and aren’t averse to getting their hands dirty but don’t ask them if the colour of their car is the original one; the answer will be “No, but I liked it like this”. Who’s right? The answer is both of them.
The world of enthusiasts in the UK was positively bubbling during the first half of May with two extremely interesting auctions. From ACA, over the weekend of 1st and 2nd May, 236 cars were offered and after selling 206 (87.29%) of them, total takings amounted to £2,023,000 (€2,348,876). In absolute terms, that might seem like a small number but if you consider that their original forecast was £1,752,550 (€2,034,860), they ended up selling 115% by value.
Historics did not achieve the same success: 72.56% of the cars on offer were sold (119 out of 164) but only at 59.34% of the estimated value. Not that £3,956,000 (€4,593,255) is a small amount (even against an estimate of £6,660,000 or €7,732,800) but just one month ago at their auction at Ascot, they managed to do much better.
Nevertheless, these numbers and percentages indicate that the market is healthy and is looking for items to buy and great deals. There were some very important cars up for sale but also some fun and very particular cars on offer. With 325 cars sold (overall) and an average price of just under £20,000 (€23,222), there was plenty to get excited over here. This time I have selected six cars, all of which I would have taken home (and who cares if the colour wasn’t original!)
The first was unquestionably the Lotus 340R from 2000. Here, it’s hard to go wrong with the colour: all 340 examples were grey over black lower panels. The example on offer here, number 66, had covered just 10,840 miles from new and it isn’t hard to understand why: without any unnecessary “luxuries” whatsoever, such as a roof or doors, driving one is both ecstatic and devastating. The car for sale had also been tuned to produce 190 hp (up from the original 177 hp) and, when combined with a weight of just 700 kg, makes for a power-to-weight ratio of 271 hp per tonne. The final price was £48,160 (€55,918), perfectly in line with the £42-52,000 estimate but it’s going up quickly.
There was a true rarity at ACA. The 1962 Lagonda Rapide can be defined as one of the world’s first examples of “highway cruisers”. The engine was taken directly from the Aston Martin DB4, but sales were negatively affected by the original price: 30% higher than a DB4 and twice as much as a Jaguar E-Type. Only 55 were produced and this one, in right hand drive, had received over £28,000 worth of work over the past three years. The estimate was £120-160,000 but an interested buyer kept bidding all the way up to £167,400 (€194,365).
In the curiosity section, I could not help but mention the 1995 Mercedes-Benz S600 L offered by Historics. Originally purchased by the late Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Hamad Al-Thani, it was immediately sent to the well-known armoured car specialists in Belgium, Carat Duchatelet, to be equipped to B6/B7 armour standard, the highest domestic armoury level for a non-military vehicle. Only 13,500 km on the clock, probably driven by the faithful driver. The estimate was £30-40,000 and it was sold for £33,960 (€39,430). Perfect for those with violent or quarrelsome neighbours!
At Historics, on the other hand, there was a true piece of motoring history. The 1974 Alpine A110 1600S, which participated in the 1975 Targa Florio, coming a very respectable third in class (and 23rd overall). Although it was no longer in racing configuration and the FIA HTP documents needed to be renewed, it was offered with the original Italian Libretto and, something that was definitely welcome, the seller was willing to pay 5% to accommodate the EU Taxes that would be due on the vehicle were it purchased and registered in the European Union. The final price of £105,000 (€121,914) was at the very lowest end of the minimum estimate (£105,000-135,000) and due to the brand’s recent revival, this model’s price is bound to rise.
A beautiful Aston Martin Virage with its generous V8 at €15,660 (€18,182) is not a bad purchase. Built in 1990 and fully maintained both in Great Britain and on the French Riviera (noblesse oblige!) for the princely sum of £27,000, with an elegant light leather interior set against the elegantly dark shade of the bodywork, it was a gift that you can both afford and enjoy.
We close this piece with a model worth keeping an eye on. Prices of the Ford Fiesta XR2 are taking off: the model offered by ACA (from 1989) had 58,000 miles on the clock from new but, incredibly, it had never been modified. Like many hot hatches of this ilk, they are often tuned by their first owner and to find a completely original example (“stock” to use their jargon) is something of a miracle. Although it’s not a Golf GTI or a 205 GTI, the Fiesta XR2 MkII is making its way into the world of collecting. This example was sold for £20,250 (€23,511), more than double the maximum estimate (£8,000-10,000).