Maarten ten Holder, the sensational auctioneer of Bonhams confirmed his talent once again in Zoute, a small seaside resort with his highly original “dynamic concourse” formula. In fact, he started the offers at 35%-40% of the minimum estimate instead of the usual 50%, immediately generating a frenzy of offers. At that point, the energy of the auctioneer kept the pace high obtaining extra raises and results in the process.
The result? Of the 73 cars offered for sale, 69 changed hands (94.52%) and of these 26 (over a third!) exceeded their maximum estimates. An exceptional number, which, when you place it next to the €23,372,936 ($22,747,825) turnover (out of €25,399,000 estimate, or 92%) and an average price of €338,738 ($329,675) per car, in all likelihood makes this the best Bonhams auction this side of the Atlantic. Congratulations.
So let’s turn our attention to the cars.
As with the Audrain auction just a week earlier, the highlight of the event was the 1957 BMW 507 S1. This allows us to make some comparisons. The American example had been in the hands of the same owner since 1979 and, even if they declared that it was ready for use, I would have carried out a few checks here and there. This example was bought by BMW Classic in 2017 and had been looked after appropriately, testifying to its quality. The one from Audrain was a second series (220 examples), while the one for sale at Zoute was a first series (just 34 examples). Both had Rudge wheels and were originally white, but while the one from Audrain was Pontiac Blue, this one from Zoute was correct. In monetary terms, the one from Audrain was estimated at $1.8m-$2.2m while at Zoute it was €2m-€2.5, slightly higher but more than justified. The sale price, however, reversed the cards on the table (albeit slightly): Audrain was sold for $2,315,000 (€2,253,085), the one at Zoute for €2,093,000 ($2,037,020).
Whoever bought it, despite the talent of the auctioneer, took home a bargain.
Among the more fascinating cars was undoubtedly the 1968 Lamborghini Miura P400. Anyone who follows me knows that the Miura is one of my favorite cars, so when I saw the Blue Miura example with Gobi interior (beige) at €500,000-€800,000, I started dreaming. Of course, the fact that it hadn’t been used since 2006 meant the purchase price was only the start… My dream dissolved immediately, however: the hammer fell at €1,115,500 ($1,085,665), followed by a spontaneous round of applause. Interestingly, at Pebble Beach a Miura P400 that did not require restoration sold for €979,095 ($1,006,000). Kudos to the auctioneer once again.
The skill of the Bonhams team also materialized when they had to place three modern “special bodied” cars. The first was a Porsche Zagato 356 Speedster Sanction Lost, a 2016 reconstruction of an example bodied by Zagato to revive a lost car (or, if you prefer destroyed in an accident).
Then, there was the Rolls Royce Silver Spectre Shooting Brake, built in 2015 as a Wraith Gran Turismo coupé and transformed according to the whims of its owner into a two-door estate car in 2020. Finally the more “common” (4 examples) 2009 Maserati Bellagio Fastback Shooting Brake.
These three cars all had one feature in common: they were not easy to sell as they were all built to very personal specifications. And instead, they not only sold them, but placed each one within their estimates.
The Porsche went for €356,500 or $346,965 (estimate €300,000-€450,000), the Rolls Royce managed to exceed its estimate of €300,000-€350,000 (€368,000 or $358,155) while the Maserati changed hands for €161,000 or $156,695 (the estimate was €150,000-€200,000).
Among the many cars that shone at Zoute was the 1992 Lancia Delta Integrale Evoluzione. I will admit that I am not a big fan of these cars, not because of the model but because they have inevitably been heavily modified over the years. Every example I come across has been subjected to the same treatment: more powerful engine (as if you were looking for that from a historic car), wrong wheels, decals that would look good on a wrestler, and more than their fair share of dangling pieces.
The one from Bonhams was no exception: yes, it had received some €30,000 of work since 2018, but what was left under the surface was hardly what you’d call a prime example of the model. The estimate of €75,000-€100,000 was high, considering the condition, but at €92,000 ($89,540), I can only congratulate the auction house for a job well done.
Finally, I would like to give you something to think about.
Last year there was a flare-up in prices for low-mileage Citroën 2CVs: one with 9 km changed hands for €141,960 while one with 18 km went for €120,400. Inexplicable values I took a long hard look at. In Zoute, a 2CV6 Club with just 16 km from new, also from 1990 and estimated at €30,000-€40,000 was sold for €31,050 ($30,220), placing it back in the right price range.
The market will always be the best judge.