The Bonhams auction at the 79th Members’ Meeting in Goodwood confirmed that pairing with an event is always the right choice: the room is filled with friends, and the joy of participating opens up buyers to temptations. Success was guaranteed, perhaps one of the Auction House’s best results in recent years: 74 cars on offer, not too many but not too few either, 26 of which were without reserve (roughly one third). 63 were sold, which equates to an 85.14% success rate. £6,156,000 (€7,427,700) in pre-sale estimates and £6,791,025 (€8,193,915) in takings, 110%!
And then it should be noted that 12 cars sold above their maximum estimates – if that seems like a low number, then think again – and some 80% sold beyond their minimum estimate. Top step of the podium!
At the sale, the highest step of the podium was claimed by an Aston Martin DB5 from 1964. Originally in Dubonnet (a dark red, tending towards burgundy), it had been owned by the same person since 1969. Repainted in the same shade in 2004, it maintains its original fawn interior trim. Following an MoT failure in 2018, the car was parked in the garage while waiting for work to be carried out but remained there until this sale. In fact, the vehicle was in need of a complete restoration and the estimate price of £280,000-£350,000 reflected the car’s condition. But the market was decidedly optimistic and the offers kept coming in all the way up to £506,000 (€610,530), almost as much as a restored example… until recently.
Another car that performed very well at the auction was the 1998 Porsche 993 Turbo. The car was a left-hand drive model and had travelled around 64,000km, with an estimate of £50,000-£80,000 it seemed like a bargain. But there were two very important details worthy of note: the car had been stationary for 16 years), and were this vehicle to stay in the UK, it would be subject to Import VAT and Import Duty which added 30% on top of the sale price, hardly small change! The car, however, was delivered new with the very rare ‘X50’ performance option which increased both its power output and hence its desirability, I should add. Eventually sold for £138,000 (€166,505) which, if registered in the UK, would be almost £180,000 (€217,185) in total. A lot or a little? Well Porsches in general are skyrocketing, so even if that number is “high” today, I might have to call it “low” tomorrow.
The perfect car for this auction was without question the 1961 Aston Martin DB4 4.5 Litre Competition Saloon. Originally a road car, it was converted by the late Richard Williams (one of the world’s foremost Aston Martin authorities) to participate in the AMOC racing series, and between 2004 and 2007 it raced in numerous competitions in the USA (including two Monterey Historics) in the hands of Peter Read, one of the most important collectors of Aston Martin on the West Coast. It was the perfect sale for this lot: A British car, sold during a circuit race, correct period… You could have bought it and enjoyed it immediately at the Graham Hill trophy. The estimate of £160,000-£200,000 was correct, considering it had been stationary for over 10 years, but the difference was created by the atmosphere: £235,750 (€286,865).
Among the most interesting things at this event was comparing the results of two Austin-Healeys. A 1964 MkIII Phase II and a 1960 MkI “ready to rally “. With the same average quotations: the first was estimated at £35,000-£55,000 while the MkI was listed at £40,000-£50,000.
Which one fared better? In the end, the MkIII came out on top at £46,000 (€55,500) beating the £37,950 (€45,790) of the other model.
The sale that most left me stunned, however, was the 1937 SS Jaguar 2 1/2 litre Saloon. Is there anything less cool than an average sedan from the ‘30s on the market today? According to experts, the first owner was noteworthy, a certain Oldřich Nový, considered to be one of the greatest actors from the Czech Republic, who had starred in numerous films before the war. OK… The £20,000-£30,000 estimate was slightly high, but in the end, it sold for £35,650 (€43,015). Seize the moment, as they say.