Market and auctions

Auctions: Cliff’s gift

Photo credit: Aguttes, Barrett-Jackson, Brightwells, CCA Classic Car Auctions, Dorotheum, Mecum, RM Sotheby’s

Just like fishermen once they’ve emptied their nets net after an abundant catch – and the year that’s drawing to a close has been abundant and them some – we’d like to take a few moments to look for some beautiful small, large and, why not, some very large fish that ended up in our catch, cars that we originally had to neglect. A worthy endeavour as it reveals cars from a few tens of thousands of euros to more than a million, and this left me speechless.

On 22nd June, a small English company, Brightwells, auctioned two very hot lots. How long has it been since you have seen a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTE in need of a complete restoration? It even had moss growing on its bonnet! And what about the engineless chassis of a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTE S3 in similar condition? It goes without saying that the offers came in thick and fast with the sting of one of Mike Tyson’s knock-out punches. The oldest of the two probably set the record for the highest number of raises, with the public raising the price no fewer than 69 times (on average offers stop after 15-20), when it closed at €124,675 ($132,150). But that paled into the distance when the bare chassis sold three lots later for €75,700 ($80,500), after no fewer than 87 raises!

1962 Ferrari 250 GTE sold for €124,675 ($132,150)

Although we are currently in a period dominated by youngtimers (especially Japanese), and price rises are not a surprise, sometimes the surprises are simply too big to ignore!

in July, the Orlando-based Mecum brought to market the holy grail of the Honda S2000 model: one of the finest examples of a 2000, the first, with the original engine and not the less interesting 2.2 one that followed, titanium grey colour scheme over a black interior and the gorgeous red “start” button to the left of the steering wheel. This car is magnificent for the howl of its VTEC engine, although this example had never experienced that thrill, having travelled just 38 miles. The stratospheric price paid for the model was more than justified: €83,000 ($88,000).

2000 Honda S2000 sold for €83,000 ($88,000)

Even more surprising was the result obtained by a small 1990 Mazda MX-5. The first series has always been my favourite, even though the white colour scheme didn’t help, and while the odometer reading of over 28,000 miles wasn’t very high, it meant it was never going to reign at concours d’elegance events. A few years ago, I started a negotiation for a MkI in a rare and decidedly beautiful Mariner Blue colour scheme, and at the time I could have taken it home for less than €5,000, whereas now I would need to double that figure. But on 20th October, Barrett-Jackson in Houston made a huge bang: €25,950 ($27,500), an impressive figure.

1990 Mazda MX5 Miata sold for €25,950 ($27,500)

How much would you pay for a Mini? That’s a question only people who know very little about the car would ask as they made so many of them and they know so little, from the 850 to the Cooper S, from 1959 to 2000. So you have to be more specific: Morris Mini Cooper S first series from 1964, the one with the rare 1,071 cc engine. Only two owners, 39,144 miles on the clock but above all, years and years in the garage to sleep, so a substantial revision was required. Now the question once again: how much would you have paid this Mini? CCA, the British company affiliated with Silverstone, in its auction estimated it at anywhere between €32,000-€36,000, perfectly in line with current prices and restoration costs. But a lover of the model pushed it very far indeed: €60,200 ($63,800).

1964 Morris Mini Cooper 1071 S (Mk1) sold for €60,200 ($63,800)

December is the perfect time to give yourself a gift, so let’s take a look at three. Among the most mistreated Ferraris, the 365 GT4 2 + 2 is probably the most mistreated, which is a shame as it shares its engine with the much more famous Daytona. The year was 1973 and at the age of 24 Niki Lauda thought he had touched the sky: he had just signed with Ferrari and Enzo Ferrari himself had given him a 365 GT4 2+2. This very car came up for auction on 7th December in Austria. Originally silver, it had since been repainted red but other than that it was completely original. A normal version is worth a maximum of €80,000 but the experts of Dorotheum, the auction house, attributed it a minimum estimate of €30,000. This was slightly overcautious and wholly underestimated the Lauda effect: sold for €207,000 ($219,400). Niki keeps winning.

1973 Ferrari 365 GT4 2+2 Ex-Niki Lauda sold for €207,000 ($219,400)

Ferrari driver of the 70s against Ferrari driver of the 80s. Austria v France. Just seven days later the Aguttes auction house presented in Paris a 1976 Ford Bronco that wouldn’t have been anything special had it not been bought new by one of Ferrari’s most famous drivers from the 80s: Gilles Villeneuve. Also of note was the fact that the car was still registered to the great champion, maybe it has always remained in the hands of the family? In need of a complete restoration but valued much more than normal at €80,000-€120,000. Sold for €136,150 ($144,300), over 10 times a normal one. Legends are priceless.

1976 Ford Bronco Ex-Gilles Villeneuve sold for €136,150 ($144,300)

And so we arrive at Christmas, where RM enchanted us with something truly out of the ordinary – and purists please forgive me but here it’s the market speaking, not me: to celebrate 50 years of Porsche Design, the Stuttgart company decided to take a 1972 Porsche 911 2.4T Targa wreck (the year in which the division was born) and restored it, taking some liberties in the process. First, they modified the engine, giving it the same power as the 2.4S. Then, they painted it black with a black leather interior and checkered pattern fabric (the preferred configuration of Ferry Porsche, “the inventor” of the 911), adding the occasional modern tricks here and there. Finally, they equipped it with a clock that was as unique as the rest of the car. The price? Well considering that a 911 2.4S can cost somewhere between €120,000-€150,000, perhaps in special cases, €200,000, what can we possibly say in front of €1,084,000 ($1,149,000) paid?

I’m not waiting for New Year’s Eve, I’ve already seen the fireworks…

1972 Porsche 911 S 2.4 Targa: A Homage to F. A. Porsche sold for €1,084,000 ($1,149,000)