Thursday, 27 October 2011

The cars we drive say a lot about us

Featuring everything from a 1937 Bugatti Type 57 Stelvio cabriolet to a 1962 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Sedanca De Ville that was supposedly used by Victor Barclay of Jack Barclay Ltd, yesterday’s RM Auctions annual sale in London’s Battersea Park was definitely somewhat quieter than in previous years.

My first visit to this auction came in 2007 when Bernie Ecclestone sold his spectacular collection. Amongst the lots on offer then was a Lancia Astura Lungo complete with Italian fascist symbols and Nazi swastika flag which Benito Mussolini gave to Adolf Hitler during the visit of the Nazi dictator to Italy in 1938, and since I have been continually impressed by the array of interesting vehicles RM Auctions manage to bring to the market.

Yesterday’s sale did, however, lack the buzz of previous years and perhaps was indicative that the premium car market is suffering as a result of these times of economic hardship. Whilst about 70% of the vehicles did sell, three of the four top lots failed to meet their reserves and were not sold and the overall result was a decline on 2010’s 87% success rate.

1990 Alfa Romeo Zagato SZ coupé. Photo Credit: Tom Wood ©2011. Courtesy of RM Auctions.

The highest price achieved was £2.24 million for a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT LWB “Tour de France” Berlinetta against an upper estimate of £2.4 million whilst buyers passed on a 1955 Ferrari 750 Monza Spyder (estimated at £1.5 million to £1.8 million) and 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT (estimated at £780,000 to £880,000). At the lower end of the scale, examples included a 1990 Alfa Romeo Zagato SZ coupé that reached just £15,000 against an estimate of £30,000 to £40,000.

1973 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Limousine. Photo Credit: Tim Scott ©2011. Courtesy of RM Auctions.

I especially enjoyed seeing a fully restored 1973 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Limousine (estimated at £75,000 to £100,000) that was in mint condition alongside a barn find, complete with dust, from 1969 that required full restoration (estimated at £20,000 to £30,000, achieved £22,000). The former had been on display at Mercedes-Benz World, Weybridge, Surrey for the last four years and comes complete with a drop down 14-inch screen and a walnut drinks cabinet.

2001 Iveco Domino HDH Orlandi Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver’s coach. Photo Credit: Tom Wood ©2011. Courtesy of RM Auctions.

One of the most unusual lots was a 2001 Iveco Domino HDH Orlandi Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver’s coach (estimated at £200,000 to £300,000) that had been used by the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team during the Schumacher and Barrichello years. The vehicle has since been converted into a most luxurious motor home. The lot came accompanied by conditions that stated “… that the purchaser will be required to sign an agreement promising to protect Ferrari’s trademark and to not use this vehicle for commercial purposes.”

1956 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback coupé. Photo Credit: Dan Savinelli ©2011. Courtesy of RM Auctions.

One of my favourite lots was a 1956 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback coupé (estimated at £220,000 to £280,000) that numbered the 3rd Earl of Inchcape and the Steven Wolf Collection in Florida as previous owners. RM Auction’s description of the vehicle as “usable art” is most definitely fitting and if I had the resources this car would definitely have topped my shopping list.

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Anonymous said...

How much did the art car sell for? It was meant to benefit Great Ormond St so I hope a lot of $$$ was paid for it.

Daniel Crow said...

These photos are really great! There is certainly big money to be made at Commercial Vehicle Auctions, however, it really is dependent on the buyers. As you said, the recession seems to have hit just about everyone with fewer sales than usual being made. And I suspect the sales prices were not the same as usual either!