Bonhams in Switzerland: the ship sets sail…
Many sales and great deals in a very well conducted auction.
Cliff Goodall’s view
The auction at Cheserex in Switzerland was the first of its new chapter and swept away the “cobwebs” of the Bonhams auctions. With its exhilarating style borrowed from the Americans (RM taught them a lot here…), the Dutch auctioneer captured the audience’s attention for over three hours without missing a single beat and without losing the interest – and offers – of the bidders.
As always, the results are in the numbers: this year they offered fewer cars but sold more of them, 41 sold out of 46 on offer (compared to 33 out of 53 in 2020) and the average price was 23.9% higher, up from €208,286 ($248,225) in 2020 to €258,050 ($307,531). The result, therefore, was 89.13% of the cars changing hands (numbers comparable to… RM) and €10,580,081 ($12,608,844) in takings (+54% compared to last year) with 33% less total value on offer. The icing on the cake? 105.3% of the total value in takings.
Let’s see what the sales have to teach us.
Let’s start with the top lot, which is also a very interesting lesson in economics. A 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso with Ferrari Classiche certification, metallic brown with dark beige interior, the result of a restoration from the late 2000s. Estimated at CHF 1.35-1.95 million (€1.2-1.8 million, it sold post-auction for CHF 1,340,000, approximately €1,224,000 ($1,460,000). The last ones sold (in 2020) went for between €1.22million and €1.78 million. From our ratings, those with Ferrari Classiche certification are worth about 20% more than non-certified examples. So, it can be assumed that the same car, without certification, would have had a value of about a million. And here the lesson is to tread carefully: there was a note in the catalogue that stated that Ferrari had released the “Red Book” in 2009 when the car was still silver and with a different interior. This basically annuls the certification. So remember: always look carefully at when the car was certified and note what has happened in the meantime. With this annotation, the price is correct and in line with 2020 values.
Another lesson I learned from this auction? It too has a horse on the bonnet but it’s not from Maranello. Until recently, Porsche 911s from the 996 series could be purchased for laughable figures, well below their true value. For a good but unassuming example, prices had gone down as far as €12-15,000 but it seems that this season has now passed even for the most neglected 911s. A 1997 Carrera Coupé was on sale at Cheserex. The first owner, Martina Hingis, a famous tennis player, won it in a tournament sponsored by Porsche, and the car had a very high mileage (about 116,000 km) and it was red, not a typical Porsche colour. Although it did not reach its estimate of CHF 35-45,000, it sold for CHF 25,300 (approximately €23,000 or $27,500), a high figure considering its overall condition. Be advised, therefore: it would appear that the 996 is on its way up, even though it’s still affordable. But in a few years?
In my opinion, among the many cars that are still very good value for money, is the Ferrari 575 Superamerica. The example offered by Bonhams was the cheapest one to hit the market of late: CHF 247,250 (about €220,000 or $262,000), but it has to be said that compared to the other examples that have come up for sale it was certainly the least interesting. Without the Fiorano Handling pack (HGTC) and without official mileage declaration (always a bad sign) it couldn’t match the figures reached by other examples of this model (we saw one at Retromobile last year). Yet this unusual Ferrari has all the features that make it worth so much more: a V12 engine, a convertible bodywork with the original Fioravanti opening panoramic roof. Produced in a limited series, just a shine ago, at the height of the speculative bubble, these cars were worth anything from €350,000 to €550,000 while now you can take one home for half. I honestly don’t think it’s going to stay that way for long.
The cheaper alternative? The Ferrari 550 Maranello. At Bonhams, a yellow 72,000km example changed hands for CHF 71,300 (€65,000 or $77,500), with an estimate of CHF 70-90,000. Even this model, compared to a few years ago, can be bought “at half price”. The same logic as the Superamerica applies here too: buy it, enjoy it for a few years and resell it at for a profit. I don’t doubt it at all.
What about Aston Martin DB4s? It seems that the tide has turned for this model and, after double-digit growth for years, for some time now the price has started to wane. In 2010, you could take home a DB4 for €100-200,000 but the following five years proved them to be excellent investments: in 2015 the cheapest DB4 (in need of a complete restoration) changed hands for over €350,000 while it was not uncommon to see examples selling for anywhere between €600-700,000. Bonhams offered a 1960 S2 in need of restoration with an estimate of CHF 240,000/280,000, and it sold for CHF 253,000 (about €230,000 or $275,000) perfectly within its estimate.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Final Edition is a car that I would recommend anyone to buy as I’m convinced its value is set to increase. The very rare Black Series has now entered the stratosphere – one in Cheserex sold for CHF 517,500 (about €472,000 or $563,000) – another at CHF 264,500 (about €241,000 or $287,500) but it had an estimate of 100,000 because it had Kuwait number plates. But even considering transportation and customs duties, I think it’s safe to say that the buyer made a great deal.