Auction Fever 2

Following our recent article on how to buy a car at auction we thought it might be useful to bring you a report on the Bonhams Members’ Meeting sale. This auction offered a mix of good, solid mid-range classics interspersed with veteran and vintage cars and competition vehicles.

At the time of writing, including post- sale arrangements, just five of the 76 cars offered failed to sell, with nearly a quarter selling for over top estimate. There were some that exceeded expectations by a significant margin: a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 that had been off the road since 2018 made a huge £506,000 including premium, a full £156,000 over its top estimate, and well over Hagerty’s Condition 4 (‘Fair’) value of £318,000. 

A rare AC 3000ME Turbo probably best described as ‘well loved’ nearly doubled its top estimate, selling for £28,750, a figure in excess of Hagerty’s top Condition 1 (‘Concours’) value of £28,500. Modern classics also performed well: a 1998 Porsche 911 (993) Turbo coupe with X50 pack smashed its expectations, selling for £138,000, well over Hagerty’s Condition 2 (‘Excellent’) value of £129,000.

Overall, lots that struggled to sell were the competition cars with four of the five no-sales in this category. The highlight was a 1961 Lotus 20, driven to Formula Junior championship success by Jo Siffert but the tempting low estimate of £70,000 wasn’t reached. A brace of race-prepared Corvettes, a Lynx T2 and a 1964 Lotus-Ford Type 23B also did not sell, in addition to a 1930 Packard 745 Dual Cowl Sports Phaeton.

Nearly one third of the cars in the auction were offered with no reserve and this helped push up the sell-through rate, but 93 per cent is an extraordinary achievement and it says a few things about the market. Firstly, it shows that the estimates were tempting, and the expectations of vendors were maybe more realistic that they have been for a while. Compare the overall value achieved at this auction (£7.12 million) against the last live Members’ Meeting sale in 2019: just over £6m with a sell-through of just 70 per cent. The market has been through something of a frenzy since then, but these more sensible figures and higher sale rates could suggest that the market has settled a little after the post-Covid boom. Secondly, it was interesting to see how many dealers were bidding, presumably to replenish stocks. This shows a sense of confidence in the market, and these results will undoubtedly help future sales.

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