CL A S S IC M A R K ETPL ACE
What has struck me recently is just how many classic car auctions are now taking place all around the world. Apart from the four major car-auction houses, RM Sotheby’s, Gooding and Co, Bonhams, and — since the success of the sale of the Baillon Collection in Paris in February 2015 — Artcurial, there is a whole host of newcomers. Those entering the forum are completely new outfits as well as the old established auction houses, sensing a pot of gold, now conducting classic car auctions alongside their traditional fare of art, furniture, jewellery, etc.
The oldest Swiss fine-art auction house — Galerie Fischer Auktionen, established in 1907 — has set up Fischer Classic Car Auctions. It recently conducted a sale featuring some very interesting cars, including a 1955 AC Aceca and a 1956 Jensen 541L. The only problem is, despite the good-looking website, I cannot find the results published online. Perhaps it is slow to announce these results because there was not a lot to shout about … and created, to adapt a phrase coined by Marshall Mcluhan in the 1960s, a ‘global classic car village’. To this extent, German house Auctionata — regarded as one of the leading online auction houses for art and luxury collectibles — has also discovered the need for speed. It recently held a luxury sports car online auction featuring lots of Ferraris and, as one might expect of a company based in Berlin, lots of Porsches. Three simple steps: register, watch the auction take place via online streaming, and bid in real time.
What better way to connect with an international audience than through the medium of the internet? This certainly seems to be a developing trend. The first foray into the marketplace by the new company ostentatiously called ‘The Finest Automobile Auctions’ was via an online-only timed auction featuring just five average cars, but they all sold. Its Elegance at Hershey effort in June, however, was its first in conjunction with the Concours d’elegance. It had a broad range of 50 interesting and some quite special cars, including a 1952 Siata 300BC Sports Spider, a 1949 Maserati A6 1500 coupé, and a 1950 Delahaye 135M cabriolet Atlas with coachwork by the Carrosserie Guilloré.
Closer to home, the trend of new auctions coming onto the calendar is starting in Asia, too. Hong Kong’s first-ever classic car auction took place on June 11. Organized by RL Neo Classics and held on Hong Kong Island at Repulse Bay, it featured cars from Austin-healey, Mercedes-benz; Datsun; Maserati, Jensen; and, of course, Ferrari. Not to be outdone by its neighbour, Singapore will follow suit with a classic car auction in September.
Before then, of course, there is the big auction feast at the high table of Pebble Beach, when the big boys will battle it out once again. This is the real barometer of the classic car auction scene, of which, more next time.