If we consider today’s British reality from an economic, political and climate crisis standpoint, then we cannot in all honesty say that the Historics auction went badly.
62.50% of cars on offer sold (105 cars out of 168 on offer), slightly down on last year’s 68.47% while turnover, which fell to £2,346,283 (€2,763,180) compared to £3,199,415 (€3,767,905) in 2021 (-27%) should be evaluated in line with the global value of the cars on offer, which this year was £4,138,500 (€4,856,010) compared to £5,451,000 (€6,396,065) in 2021. On this basis, 56.70% against 58.68% of the previous edition puts the numbers back in their place.
With an average selling price of £22,350 (€26,315), the top lot was a 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet in a supremely elegant dark green livery with biscuit interior, built for the United States and sold for £156,800 (€184,525). Really rather special.
The other Mercedes in the group, a 1990 560SEC with only 31,000 miles on the clock and maintained to the highest standards. The estimate of £14,000-£19,000 was more representative of a regular example, and so the selling price of £26,880 (€31,635) was much more in line with the quality of the car on offer.
Another player from the Made in Germany team, a beautiful example of a Porsche 944 Turbo from 1986, with just 22,000 miles on the clock, black bodywork with a black interior, sold for £35,840 (€42,175 at today’s exchange rate). This is the new European record after the £33,394 (€39,185) set just four months ago, once again by Historics.
Without a doubt, the car I would have bought was the 1969 Alfa Romeo GT Junior ‘Alfaholics Stepnose’. I know that many will turn up their noses, but I do not see any harm if the conversion is done well, and you can count on Alfaholics to do just that. This one had a 2-litre Stage 1 engine with Alfaholics carburettor mounds with uprated air intake filters, a rebuilt head to fast road spec and improved manifolds for a verified dyno at 141 bhp. The £40,000-£50,000 estimate even seemed low to me by their standards and so I consider the selling price of £46,000 (€54,175) an absolute bargain.
Another great deal was to take home a 2005 Alfa Romeo 147 GTA, with its 250 bhp 3.2 litre 24 valve V6 engine, the final evolution of the legendary Busso powerplant. Just 5,000 examples were produced of which 1,004 came with the Selespeed gearbox like this example. Sold for £11,320 (€13,330), it looks set to grow in the future.
A car that instead has already experienced the revaluation and is still going strong is the Ford Focus RS. I will repeat it again and again: it does not matter whether you buy a first, second or third series, buy one and enjoy it and put it in the garage, it will be your pension fund. The record for this model was £43,875 for one with just 18 miles on the clock, basically brand new. Recently in May, another with 8,000 miles to its credit was sold for £41,062. At Historics, a lime green MkII example that had covered just 2,621 miles, estimated at £35,000-£40,000 changed hands for £52,072 (€61,325).
How much is a Buggy worth? Judging by the fluctuating results of the rods, it is impossible to say. And the reason is quite simple: As they pure fun cars with low “technological” value, they are bought with the heart. The 1970 Volkswagen Dune Buggy offered by Historics, equipped with the powerful 1,584cc engine, in excellent condition, perhaps a little too much chrome for my liking but perfect for this hot English summer, estimated at £18,000-£22,000 flew all the way up to £47,040 (€55,400).
As so often happens, cars without reserve are the most intriguing ones. This time, I chose two very different cars: on the one hand the 1991 Fiat 126 BIS. With just 15,000 miles on the clock, this model, which has become very rare even in Italy, is the alternative to the much more common Fiat 500. Despite its estimate of £5,000-£8,000 it stopped at £3,396 (€4,000).
On the other hand there was the very large Nissan 300ZX T-Top from 1994. With prices of youngtimers, particularly Japanese ones, now unattainable, this is one of the few choices still going for more human numbers. This example came from Japan under the Fairlady Z brand, and the body kit did not help. Which perhaps explains the truly modest selling price of £5,040 (€5,935).