An important sale for the marque as always and in some respects a return to form for Bonhams who have seen their performance wilt slightly over the last few months compared to the statistical highs of mid-2014. Our customers reported that the regular Aston Martin enthusiasts were joined by what they described as a less experienced and devoted audience which made for a slightly less reverent atmosphere than in previous years.
Bonhams achieved some strong results with a good proportion of cars sold over estimate but this was enhanced by a number of speculators that were seen to be buying cars including some ex-dealer stock – these will no doubt reappear in the marketplace in the near future.
For an in depth look at the auction results we will hand you over to Aston Martin expert Philip Jones of Byron International – one of our approved dealer partners.
Torrential rain in the hours before the sale on Saturday did nothing to dissuade any of the record attendance at this year’s sale. But whether it was the mass of people in the wonderful workshop facilities at Newport Pagnell or the fact that the cars are not displayed in a showroom environment, but there was nothing in the inventory display to get buyers excited. And there was very little flamboyance in the sale – nothing much in the audio visual line and an inadequate sound system. All the fun of the fair outside but inside, Jack was rather a dull boy!
But the opening lots showed promise – following their recent Aston Martin scrapheap challenge at Goodwood, Bonhams must have decided that there just are not enough agricultural outbuildings in existence to make the term “Barn Find” credible so they now present “Projects” and Lot 201 certainly came under that category – a DB Mark III in need of a lot of love and attention saw a hammer price of £92,000 (£104,540 with premium) and that set a good opening rhythm. Lot 205, a William Towns Lagonda V8 showed a welcome resurgence for the model with a hammer price of £87,000 (£98,940 with premium) a trend confirmed later in the sale when another example beat its top estimate with a hammer price of £44,000 (£50,600 with premium).
The first blips came with a DB7 Vantage Volante, tucked in a corner of the workshop looking a little unloved, the bid of £21,500 missed the boat. Less obvious were lots 210 and 211. The first was a very nice DB6 Volante that appeared to be sold for a creditable £660,000 on the hammer but its sale was not confirmed and then a presentable (but not perfect) DB5 Saloon which was knocked down at £530,000 – that was £90,000 above top estimate after some very vigorous bidding – but again, does not feature in the sold list [sold post sale]!
That should not be a surprise if you look at the bald statistics – there were 55 lots offered in the catalogue, 3 were withdrawn and 16 lots were unsold so a few lots, for a variety of reasons failed to find a new home and given that those unsold lots included an engine, a body shell and sundry race cars – the market was vibrant when it came to the mainstream cars.
And those race cars seemed to disrupt the whole sale. It was headlined as “The Geoffrey Marsh Dispersal Sale of Marsh Plant Aston Martin Motor Cars” – the way that the audience reacted resembled the Interval at a London theatre. There was a headlong rush for the door, but unlike their theatre counterparts, they didn’t resume their places for the second half! With a high proportion of “Not Sold” among that Disposal Sale, it appeared difficult to re-build the momentum of the sale.
Lot 229 looks a bit of an anomaly if you read the catalogue – a left hand drive DB5, albeit a conversion, under-shooting its estimate with a hammer price of £430,000 (£483,100 with premium). It was poor inventory cataloguing by Bonhams – the car had a DB6 engine and they did not even have a showroom notice, just a verbal notification from the rostrum.
The other mystery about the sale is the performance of the Feltham cars – those needing work always appear to appeal to the market and even some of the better looking cars still needed some effort – the ex Prince Bertil DB2 Drophead looked great in the catalogue but will need some judicious efforts in the paint shop. But the hammer price of £200,000 (£225,000 with premium), £50,000 below bottom estimate, reflected what we all could see. But why should a presentable DB2/4 Coupe only scrape its bottom estimate of £120,000 (£135,900 with premium) – especially disappointing for the seller who paid £140,000 (£158,300 with premium) just 12 months ago at the same event!
But market optimism was really emphasised by the number of purchases by dealers – from Holland, the UK and the US – there were a number of cars offered with the proviso that there were local import taxes of 5% to be added if the car remained in the UK. So there was no surprise to see Lot 214, a left hand drive DB4 Series I go Stateside with a high value hammer price of £440,000 (£494,300 with premium).
And to confirm that market optimism – when a car is the right model and presented in outstanding condition, the market responds as it did on two of the later lots a DB4 Series IV Convertible and a 1966 DB5 Convertible to Vantage specification. Both left hand drive and both subject to vigorous bidding to £1.35 million and £1.36 million respectively on the hammer – that made both cars top £1.5 million with premium to steal the headlines and re-affirm the investment value of the very best. What if there had been a real DB4GT in the inventory rather than a replica!
So a confident re-affirmation of Aston Martin’s market strength – presentation of the cars and the sense of occasion was missing this year, so it is all about the buyers and it is their genuine enthusiasm that is making the difference.
(Many thanks to Philip Jones of Byron International for his summary – visit their website at www.allastonmartin.com)
What did well?
The ex-Sir Peter Ustinov DB4 Vantage Convertible sold for £1,513,500 including premium and a DB5 convertible for £1,524,700. Both cars were left hand drive.
Eighties Lagonda saloons seem to be mining a new vein of popularity with one car making nearly £100,000.
Restoration projects also proved popular with a DB Mark III making £104,540.
What didn’t do so well?
The race cars didn’t get snapped up and consequently affected the overall sell-through rate as did a number of withdrawals at time of going to press.
Patterns and trends
It’s the same old story – the best cars sell well and restoration projects (barn finds) still seem to appeal to Aston Martin enthusiasts, investors and speculators alike. The Aston Martin market remains stable and healthy. You can see our pre-auction picks below.
|Sold over estimate||17||32.69%|
|Sold under estimate||9||17.31%|
|Sold in lower half of estimate||10||19.23%|
|Sold in upper half of estimate||3||5.77%|
|Sold in lower half of estimate or below||19||36.54%|
|Sold in upper half of estimate or above||20||38.46%|
|Sold at median estimate||2||3.85%|
|Sold within estimate – ACCURACY||15||28.85%|
Image credit – Bonhams