The summit of a mega week for the market in top end collector vehicles was last Sunday evening at Pebble Beach, where Gooding sold a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster for $11,770,000 (£7.53m!) to establish two new records, a record price for any pre-war car and also for a Mercedes at auction. Whilst the previous evening, another world record $11,275,000 (£7.22m) was invested - and ‘an investment’ is what these huge sums would have to have been - in a Ferrari 250GT LWB California Spider Competizione, the highest price ever paid for the model at auction.
Among other milestone prices logged at the Gooding sale were the $6.05m (£3.87m) result of a 1928 Bentley 4½-Litre Le Mans Sports ‘Bobtail’, a world record for a Bentley 4½ crossing the block, and the $3.73m (£2.38m) that was handed over for a 1953 Jaguar C Type, also a world record price for a C Type in public auction.
In a $95m (£61m) RM sale in Monterey meanwhile, a Steve McQueen Le Mans movie employed 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racer clocked up a model record-breaking $11m (£7.04m). A 1955 Aston Martin DB3S raced to $3.69m (£2.36m) and a 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT was valued at $2.04m (£1.3m). Remarkably, too, a 1953 Bentley Continental R Type Fastback cruised to a $1.62m (£1.04m) result and a place in the record books.
Whilst bulk players, Mecum shifted by far the most stock by volume, 344 automobiles no less - consisting of some top cars, but mainly medium-priced sector fare - for around $31m (nearly £20m). There was certainly no apparent shortage of big bucks being splashed out on old motors across the pond, spare dollars diverted, one suspects, from the property pit or financial services products.
Some much needed confidence returned to the UK provincial auctions market in East Anglia last weekend, where there were buyers for 75% of the classics and some noteworthy performers at the ACA sale in King’s Lynn.
After ten more provisionally logged bids have been converted into post sale definites - most notably, static-displayed examples of a Merc 600 swb sold for £21,200 and a Dellow-like Ford 10 Sporting Trials Special by Radpanels of 1951 vintage for £5700 - ACA have successfully shifted 76 of their 102 vehicle entry for £367k. The 75% sale rate achieved last weekend by the King’s Lynn firm was therefore a most encouraging stat for the regional sales circuit when as little as 29% of the stock offered by Peter Francis on the same day in Carmarthen changed hands and only 34% of cars sold at Donnington Priory and in Thornton Le Dale recently.
On a much better attended Saturday afternoon scorcher in Norfolk by contrast, the ‘talking point’ performances, I would suggest, were the Bell Classics restored 1960 Austin-Healey Frogeye Sprite sold by the first owners, a couple in the auction hall who bid it farewell for an unprecedented £15,750 with premium, and a £9450 Ford Escort 1300 XL 4-Door driven just 101 miles since new in 1972!
That was last weekend though. As with any market, of course, prices and sentiment never stay the same for long. And this weekend, there is another unfortunate head-to-head with auctioning opportunities for potential vendors and buyers at two locations, albeit several counties apart. For punters have a choice of gigs.
For if pop musical or easily impressed by celebs, then the new fangled and heavily Beeb promoted Car Fest at Laverstoke Park in Hampshire is the already sold-out place to be, where auction cars will be driven under the Silverstone Auctions gavel both days. Whilst the much more trad Coventry Festival of Motoring has moved from its former civic park location in Motor City to the more event suitable Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire, where H&H will launch a new display and flog your motor yourself and/or they then give it a go at auction offer. Only you, dear consumer, will decide on which, if either of these innovations has wheels and will become a permanent feature of the collector vehicle auction calendar. RHE