The auctions held by Bonhams and Historics in Great Britain, look like twin events. Same day, similar targets and very comparable results. Even the locations were close!
Historics held its auction on 17th July at Windsorview Lakes, virtually on the edges of the Heathrow runway. Bonhams, this time using the MPH “arm”, instead held their event at Bicester about fifty miles northwest, same time, same day. In theory, if you had wanted to, you could have emulated Phil Collins at Live Aid 1985 who played in London and then took a Concorde and concluded the Philadelphia concert.
That coincidence did not harm the results: buyers were evenly distributed as the numbers clearly show.
Bonhams held a smaller event but could still count on 115 cars on sale, 79 of which changed hands, giving them a sales ratio of 68.70%. With £2,419,500 (€2,799,198) on offer and £1,590,808 (€1,851,812) in takings it failed to match the previous results, stopping at 65.74% in value, with an average of roughly £20,137 (€23,440) for every car sold.
Historics had a much wider range of cars on offer: 184 to be precise with a combined estimate of £5,451,000 (€6,306,439). By the end of the day, 126 cars (64.47%) had been sold, with takings of £3,199,415 (€3,742,344) (58.70%) and an average price per lot of £25,392 (€29,558). The percentage of cars offered without reserve was more or less the same at both events: 27.82% at Bonhams, 23.37% at Historics.
But let’s cut to the chase: it is worth understanding how some of the cars on offer had something to teach us about the market.
Let’s start with a very common Volkswagen Golf MkI GTi from 1981. Fully restored about 6 years ago, this fully street-legal car had been tastefully converted for track use, complete with a supercharger which kicks in at around 3,000 revs. Offered without reserve (or estimate), it was sold for £6,792 (€7,857), a fraction of the cost of the conversion. Restored to its original condition, it might have gone for more (we are talking about at least £20,000). But 6 years ago, it would have been the opposite: at the time a track day Golf was worth more than an original one. How quickly the world changes.
Aston Martin V8. In the last year, the market has literally been flooded with this model. At Bonhams alone there were two, while at Historics there was yet another one. Following the law of supply and demand, as supply increases prices fall and this is exactly what happened here: at Bonhams, an example in need of a little care and attention (but not a full restoration) went for £42,750 (€49,450), at the lower end of the £40,000-£60,000 (€45,000-70,000) estimate.
Extremely interesting was the outcome of a Honda Insight from 2001, again from Bonhams. Not so much for the history of the car or the staggering figure paid for it, as it changed hands for just £4,387 (€5,075), but because this model was the first hybrid car sold in Europe – that’s right, before the Toyota Prius. Something to keep in mind: even electric vehicles will find a space in collecting.
Beware of flashes in the pan: Historics had two identical replicas on sale, even the colour was the same. Some time ago, we mentioned the case of a Jaguar SS100 replica built by Suffolk towards the end of the ’70s, which sold for about £70,000, which was roughly double the estimate (read more here). Immediately, other owners tried to cash in. But, as the saying goes: “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, which explains why one sold for £42,560 (€49,239), well within its estimate of £39-47,000 (€45-55,000), while the other remained unsold.
The best deal of the day? the 1980 Ferrari 400i from Historics. Red, automatic transmission, in good condition: all electrical parts in working order (quite a rarity), a recent £4,800 (about €5,500) bill and valid MoT test certificate (the strict annual British test of vehicle safety and roadworthiness) which was passed just two months ago. For a Ferrari V12, the £23,772 (€27,502) price is certainly a bargain.
We will close in a flourish, with a real mystery. How much does a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow cost? If it’s in good condition, somewhere around on £20,000-£25,000 (€23-29,000), to which we need to add the cost of an (expensive) restoration. So how was it that a first-series model from 1972, in need of a full restoration, was estimated at £35,000-£40,000 (€40-46,000) and eventually changed hands for £33,750 (€39,046), a figure that’s probably ten times higher than the true value of the car? You should know that in Great Britain, number plates are linked to the owner and not to the car so some personalized plates may be worth truly large sums, as was the case for this Shadow: “76R”. Basically, the buyer bought the license plate and the car was a gift since a license plate of this kind far exceeds the value of the car! With this in mind, it’s fair to say that paying £33,750 (€39,046) for a 1972 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow in need of a full restoration but with the number plate “76R” was a bargain! Or, that a number plate is worth more than a Rolls Royce.
One last treat: for just £8,437 (€9,761) this very well maintained Westfield 1800I, granddaughter of the Lotus Seven with the muscles of youth.