Percentage sold rates highest at ‘Drive-Throughs’, while top car prices soften

Richard Hudson-Evans

Richard Hudson-Evans

During the first four months trading, the highest sale rates in the UK have been when auction cars were driven past the rostrum.  An average of 94% of classics have sold at SWVA’s early season Drive-Throughs at Poole, while a market leading 513 cars have so far motored through the ACA hall at King’s Lynn, where there were buyers for 394 or 77% of them.

From the typically large numbers of enthusiasts attending those auctions where most classics are driven across the block and there is certainly a ‘moving show’ element to their day out, it would seem that many punters do value the reassurance of being able to see for themselves engines started up, gears engaged and cars for sale processing past the rostrum under their own power (or not!).

Although there is now a very large Green cloud on every horizon and, after smoking anywhere near a pub has been very nearly extinguished and diesel cars have been killed off, the dreaded ‘Ealth and Safety’ brigade will surely stamp out such primitive practices as driving exhausting and potentially toe-crushing motor vehicles through well populated salerooms.

Only driving cars up to the rostrum and then turning their engines off before pushing them out of the hall will dramatically reduce consumers’ intake of leaded gas. Installing much more effective extractor-fans and the employment of even more hi-viz jacketed marshals can only keep the clean air obsessive local authority clip boards at bay for a while. For the abolition of Drive Throughs may be around the corner after next.

In any case, the sale rates at March auctions, where cars were static-displayed, were 82% at Brightwells in Leominster, 80% at Brooklands under the Historics gavel and 78% at the Bonhams Goodwood Members Meet and at the Silverstone Auctions Race Retro sale in February.

Analysing the stats from those auction houses whose ‘live’ hammer prices are confirmed by published and therefore transparent results, the most classics went under the hammer during April, when 893 classics were catalogued, nearly as many as had been offered in March and February added together. But the 65% sale rate for the 581 cars declared sold was 10% less than it had been in March and 20% less than at the January auctions. While the £11,371 average price of a classic car at auction in April was considerably less than the £37,927 and £28,250 averages paid per car during the March and February sales.

Whilst a handful of high value automobiles went for millions of euros during Retromobile week in Paris in February, and millions more dollars were bet on the futures of investor grade stock at Scottsdale in Arizona in January and at Amelia in Florida in March, the highest auction prices so far this buying season in the UK have been sub-£600k in March.

For heading the first four months prices have been the £596,250 raised for the East Anglian Air Ambulance by the H&H sale at Duxford of the late Richard Allen’s 1964 Ferrari 330 GT Nembo Retro-Converted Spider and the £551,667 paid at Bonhams Goodwood for a replicated 1961 Aston Martin DP214 GT Competition Coupe. Very high value factory-correct ‘originals’, it seems, are not currently being dispersed in UK auctions where pay-outs will be in devalued Sterling.

According to Historic Automobile Group International, whose HAGI Top Index fell by 0.76% during April and by 3.33% this year to date, the monitored prices of higher value collector vehicles have continued to correct globally however. Indeed, four out of five of their international market tracking Indices declined last month. Only the HAGI MBCI that charts Classic Merc prices ended up in positive territory with a 1.86% hike for the month and 4.62% growth for the first four months.

By contrast, the Ferrari charting HAGI F recorded a loss of 1.83% in April with Ferrari prices down by nearly 2% for the year to date, whereas the HAGI P for Porsches corrected by another 0.99% last month contributing to a fall in achieved Porsche prices of 3.85% since January. What happens next is as uncertain as being the Head of the FBI or the size of Premier-Elect May’s majority.

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