Things have settled down. Kind of.
The auction wonderland of the last two years has evolved and just like Alice, six months on you could be forgiven for thinking that time has been running backwards for classic car values.
The market has managed to restore some of the unpredictability of previous years which makes it a more exciting place to be if you are bidding at auction or negotiating with a seller. To put that unpredictability into perspective, the best cars are still selling well and for strong prices while lesser cars are feeling the pinch in terms of price if the owner is committed to selling it – because there are plenty who just seem to be toying with the idea.
This was reflected in the Bonhams and RM Sothebys auction results in this year’s Monaco auctions held during the Grand Prix de Monaco Historique. With plenty of pre-sales hype around Bonhams’ Jaguar C-Type and RM Sothebys’ Ferrari 275 N.A.R.T Spider and on-lookers hungry for world records, the weekend hinted at being something really big.
As it was a sell-through rate of 56% for both auction houses wasn’t anywhere near the sales rate we have become used to and was more in line with what we could have expected in 2011. Fewer cars are selling over estimate or within the auction house estimate although this has been happening for a while for a number of reasons which are not necessarily related to a decrease in the actual values. Interestingly, fewer cars are selling under estimate than was the general trend in 2015 and this seems to have eluded the attention of many – possibly because the story of interest in 2014/2015 was record breaking prices.
The most interesting result in our eyes was the ex-Schumacher/ Piquet/ Brundle 1991-1992 Benetton-Ford B191/191B Formula 1 which propelled Schumi to his first F1 podium.
Sold for £819,791 inc premium against an estimate of £175 – 220,000, the car had previously been offered by Bonhams in December 2014 for between £240,000 – £300,000 but it didn’t find a buyer despite a sensible estimate. How it managed to reverse those fortunes so dramatically just 17 months later is anyone’s guess but F1 cars are certainly on the radar of collectors.
In the rarified atmosphere of the heavyweight collector cars Bonhams sold the 1953 C-Type for £5.7 million inc. premium and RM achieved a bid of EUD 17 million on the 275 N.A.R.T spider but it wasn’t enough to secure a sale against a lower estimate of EUD 19 million (£15 million) when it probably should have.
The story of the weekend was over-inflated estimates and to us many of the prices paid looked sensible-to-strong even though many cars weren’t hitting the guide prices. Check our results heatmaps for RM Sothebys & Bonhams (in GBP) to make up your own mind, but we also felt that some of the cars buyers have been speculating on have come back down to earth.
Overall – some solid results and no great surprises. Buyers continue to pay well for the best cars and the remainder are “falling back” to the sorts of prices that we have seen being transacted in the UK dealer market – although we might add that we have seen some great prices being achieved that in many cases shade auction results.
Our graphs below point to a general decline in “performance” over the last two years but we can put a lot of this down to the fact that consigning the best cars has got a lot harder as has meeting the price expectations of sellers who quite often think they know the market better than the professionals.