Market and auctions

Bubbly Bonhams in Zoute

Cliff Goodall’s view

Photo credit: Bonhams

After the cancellation of the Zoute event in 2020, everything returned to normal in the refined Belgian town near Bruges. And normality drove the sales at the Bonhams auction: 78.43% of the 51 cars offered changed hands (40 cars) and the sales total, compared to a pre-auction estimate of €14,009,000 ($16,290,855), came in at €12,545,051 ($14,543,164), the highest amount ever achieved at this event. 

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

In percentage terms, that equates to 89.55%, clearly demonstrating just how excellent the result was, despite the reduced number of cars without reserve (29.41%). 

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

I have chosen five cars that I found interesting at the event with the top lot coming first. A 1994 Bugatti EB110 SS with just 30,000 km on the clock and four owners. The peculiar thing about this car, however, was the trend: in 2010 an example with 700 km on the clock was sold for just under €400,000, three years later Romano Artioli’s personal car was sold in Paris for €448,890. Then, between 2015 and 2016, three examples came onto the market: all sold between €850,000 and €950,000. For the next five years the very few sales were all held “behind closed doors” and when one with 10,000 km appeared at Pebble Beach, this year, it amazed many experts when it changed hands for $2.755 million (roughly € 2.34 million). This time, Bonhams quoted it at €2-2.5 million and it was sold for €2,242,500 ($2,612,450), which confirms the current positioning of these cars. Considering the difference in mileage, this car was sold very well indeed.

1994 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport sold for €2,242,500 ($2,612,450)

Behind the Bugatti, came a Ferrari F40 with a lot to tell us. Produced in 1989, only one owner and just 1,790 km on the clock. The estimate was decidedly low at between €1m and €1.5m and it came onto the stand without reserve, so very few people in the room were surprised when it went beyond those estimates, selling for €1,840,000 ($2,143,550). And this is where we arrive at the revealing detail: according to the rules of the European Union any car that has travelled less than 6,000 km is considered “new” and therefore is subject to the payment of VAT on the sale. VAT in European countries is slightly variable but it’s around 20%. So if this car had been sold outside Belgium – where it is currently registered – the owner would have to add another €368,000 to that price, bringing the total to €2.2 million, just shy of the current record (€2.38 million).

This reality gives us an opportunity for reflection: the F40, despite a period of strong growth both in demand and price, now has a competitor in the EB 110 – a car that only a few years ago seemed very distant from it.

1989 Ferrari F40 Berlinetta sold for €1,840,000 ($2,143,550)

Returning to cars with a very low mileage, a car well worth following was the 1991 BMW Z1 Roadster. It had just 16 km (not 16 thousand, just sixteen) and it was one of the 228 produced in Magic-Violett, a very particular colour indeed. Now we could certainly discuss the pros and cons of the colour but it’s hard to question the value of the mileage (although again in this case you had to pay VAT), which explains the estimate of €90,000-€120,000. Sold for €105,800 ($123,255) it pulverized the previous record by €57,500. A nice reference, from now on, for the very original BMW spider.

1991 BMW Z1 Roadster €105,800 ($123,255)

Let’s go back 40 years to 1951 and talk about the Land Rover S1 “Reborn”. The rising market has not only whetted the appetites of certain enthusiasts with sufficient funds, but also sparked the interest of the manufacturers who have launched their official programs dedicated to collectors. In 2017, Land Rover added its own program known as Reborn. In practice, 25 examples (10 LHD and 15 RHD) of the first series would be “reborn” thanks to the interventions of those who built them. The price? Unknown. The value? Remarkable. At Bonhams, the twentieth example was estimated at €110,000-€150,000 and was sold for €115,000 ($133,975), setting yet another record for the model (previously it was €61,000). But wait! That’s not all! In October 2020, the “zero example” of the program was sold for over €203,000 at an American auction. It goes without saying that the prices of these objects are very volatile.

1951 Land Rover Series 1 4X4 ‘Reborn’ sold for €115,000 ($133,975)

We will close with a Jaguar XK140 Coupé from 1955. One of the four examples with coachwork by Ghia in need of a complete restoration. Now, we could talk about how it mounted a non-original engine (not even correct for the historical period, for that matter) or we could compare it with an XK140 Michelotti sold some time ago (also in this case in need of a full restoration) for about €350,000, or even call it a “quasi-Supersonic” (which was also from Ghia), but I should just shut up and imagine it totally restored at a Concours d’Elegance. How wonderful! I almost forgot! Estimated at €200,000-€300,000, it sold for €287,500 (€334,950).

1955 Jaguar XK 140 Coupe Coachwork by Carrozzeria Ghia sold for €287,500 (€334,950)