Spring Newsletter

01st March 2017

Our Thoughts on the Market…

I was fortunate to visit the Amelia Island Concours for the first time in March, and so also took the opportunity to attend the respective auctions going on during that week. It’s a superb location and I was very impressed by the concours event; the organisers run a great show and the cars on display were world-class. It’s now an event that I will make every effort to attend on an annual basis, and would urge anyone who hasn’t been to make the effort next year.

As ever, the auctions were a mixed bag in terms of quality and results; Bonhams had a very poor catalogue of cars, highlighting the difficulty of persuading sellers to part with their hard-to-replace cars. It is still the case that good cars represent one of the best mid-to-long-term investments, and there are few more compelling places to put money, at the moment. It was also notable that the headlining cars featuring with both RM Sotheby’s and Gooding & Co. both failed to sell. It’s rumoured RM’s 166 Barchetta has since found a new home – and deservedly so, being a truly great car.

The 166 Barchetta on display at RM Auctions

The super-cool but high-estimate XKSS from Gooding eventually proved to be something of an anti-climax, the owner forgetting to inform the auction house that the engine wasn’t the original. To be honest, the fact that a highly respected auction house did not spot that it was a 3.8 litre block until the day before the sale, didn’t reflect well on them. However, it did leave the way free for me to make a genuine cash offer on the car post sale, which is, incidentally, the highest offer for the car to date. Sadly it still wasn’t enough to secure the car, but that’s life, I suppose – onto the next one!

The Jaguar XKSS on display at Gooding & Company

But there were still some strong results to come out of the Amelia sales. One such result was the $5,665,000 achieved by Gooding for the very rare and very desirable Porsche GT1 road car, while the $1,485,000 for a U.S spec Ferrari F40 and the $1,540,000 achieved for a 964 Turbo S Lightweight, are very strong numbers. RM Sotheby’s managed to achieve $2,620,000 for the Ex-Mike Tyson Ferrari F50, and the $1,100,000 sum achieved for the Alfa 1900C SS Coupe are results worthy of note. The RM Sotheby’s Maserati A6G/54 Coupe that sold for $2,365,000, was another great result that caught my eye highlighting the desirability of a really good Mille Miglia eligible car.

It seems to have been evident for some time that auction companies are struggling to consign the greatest cars. I think it likely that both buyers and sellers are finding the commissions earned by the auction houses of somewhere between 10-17% per car, too much to swallow. My personal view is this is a trend that will continue, and most of the special cars will increasingly be sold away from the auction block, perhaps with the exception of ‘estate’ sales or single-owner collections that can be brought to market at ‘no reserve’. By their very nature, auctions are a public platform, so when a high-profile car doesn’t sell, it tends to carry that baggage with it for some years. For many owners, the risk of the car not selling at auction is enough to persuade people to sell their car discreetly through private treaty.

The market continues to evolve in terms of ‘what’s hot and what’s not’, and it’s obvious from recent results how those sands are shifting. Without a doubt, the modern limited edition supercars are leading the way, finding a broad market place amongst both the established collectors as well as appealing to a new breed of collectors coming into the market. The iconic ‘F’ series and limited run hypercar Ferraris will always be in demand, as will the McLaren F1s and the special, low-volume or rare-specification Porsches. Porsche has certainly been the ‘stand-out’ marque, looking back over the past six months.