New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents -

There was an ar­ti­cle in a re­cent is­sue of this mag­a­zine that weighed up the pros and cons of buy­ing clas­sic cars at auc­tions in New Zealand. The cons heav­ily out­weighed the pros in the ar­ti­cle, which, in many re­spects, is con­trary to my view of the auc­tion world.

First up, I have to ad­mit that I have a vested in­ter­est, be­ing a con­sul­tant to Aus­trala­sia’s lead­ing auc­tion house, Moss­green and, among other things, hav­ing run the largest clas­sic car auc­tion by dol­lar value ever held out­side Europe or the US, and hav­ing sold cars at worl­drecord auc­tion prices.

The gist of the ar­ti­cle was that cars at auc­tion are usu­ally worn out and could not be sold else­where, plus the pos­si­bil­ity that you might be buy­ing a stolen car, etc. In my ex­pe­ri­ence of in­ter­na­tional clas­sic car auc­tions, this is sim­ply not the case. Hav­ing run ma­jor in­ter­na­tional auc­tions and at­tended those by houses such as RM Sotheby’s; Artcu­rial; and Bon­hams in Aus­tralia, Eng­land, France, Italy, and Monaco, I would say that the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase the very best cars can of­ten only be had at auc­tion.

Of course, a buyer of any clas­sic ve­hi­cle — whether from a rep­utable dealer, by Pri­vate Treaty, or by sale at auc­tion — must un­der­take the ex­er­cise with a de­gree of care and due dili­gence. It is very im­por­tant, as with any ma­jor pur­chase, to do one’s home­work and tick as many boxes as pos­si­ble — orig­i­nal­ity, con­di­tion, his­tory, prove­nance, rar­ity, and de­sir­abil­ity — be­fore mak­ing that pur­chase. It is im­por­tant, too, to make sure that your heart does not rule your head (too much, at any rate!) and that you are aware of rates of buyer’s pre­mium and the like that you will have to pay above the ham­mer price.

But, and this is a big but, the auc­tion house is also your friend. It is not try­ing to trick you. Cer­tainly, it will en­cour­age you to buy, and, to this end, the auc­tion house spe­cial­ist — such as Catherine Dav­i­son of Moss­green-webb’s, who will be han­dling the sale of the Roy Sav­age Col­lec­tion of Clas­sic Cars on De­cem­ber 4 — will have done an enor­mous amount of re­search and dou­ble-check­ing to en­sure

that a po­ten­tial buyer is pro­vided with as much cor­rect in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble about the ve­hi­cle that they are think­ing of pur­chas­ing. The top auc­tion houses, of which Moss­green-webb’s is def­i­nitely one, are not try­ing to pass off any­thing un­to­ward or try­ing to sell worn-out cars and rub­bish ve­hi­cles. Good rep­u­ta­tions, as we all know, can be hard to come by and quickly lost.

The op­por­tu­nity to buy at auc­tion can present a once-in-a-life­time chance to own a car that may never have been on the mar­ket be­fore (such as the 1934 Lagonda M45 Rapide I men­tioned in Is­sue No. 310) or may never be seen on the mar­ket again. Why else would we see sales at auc­tion some­times reach­ing 10s of mil­lions of dol­lars for an in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cle? So, if you want to take own­er­ship of a part of the Roy Sav­age Col­lec­tion or to buy the one-off Molina Monza or the unique Cham­ber­lain 8, both of which fea­tured in the Na­tional Gallery of Victoria ex­hi­bi­tion Shift­ing Gears: De­sign In­no­va­tion and the Aus­tralian Car, you need to do your home­work and get your skates on, as this could be your last chance. We asked Catherine Dav­i­son, the highly re­spected and ex­pe­ri­enced spe­cial­ist with Moss­green-webb’s, her thoughts con­cern­ing buy­ing a car at auc­tion. “We take great pains, and in­deed pride, to find out as much as is pos­si­ble about the his­tory and prove­nance of any car that we con­sign,” she told us. “If there are any in­con­sis­ten­cies re­gard­ing a car, such as a colour change or some such, we are keen to, and in­deed duty-bound, to make a po­ten­tial buyer aware. We are very ex­cited to be hold­ing the first Moss­green-webb’s clas­sic car auc­tion in early De­cem­ber and look for­ward in the fu­ture to bring­ing more in­ter­est­ing col­lec­tors’ cars such as those in the Roy Sav­age Col­lec­tion in New Zealand, and im­por­tant ve­hi­cles like the Cham­ber­lain 8, Molina Monza, and 1938 Lan­cia As­tura that Moss­green is of­fer­ing in Mel­bourne.”

Af­ter the Wal­la­bies lost to the All Blacks for the fourth time this year, and, since they tell us that the Wal­la­bies’ coach does not seem to know how to con­trol his cool, I thought it ap­pro­pri­ate to bring to light the ri­valry that ex­ists be­tween New Zealand and Aus­tralia — and what this has to do with clas­sic cars in New Zealand.

It all started when Aus­tralia started feel­ing a bit cocky about its size, and al­though folk say that size does not mat­ter, just con­sider that when eat­ing chill­ies!

New Zealand is filled with an abun­dance of amaz­ing land­scapes, whereas Aus­tralia is limp in com­par­i­son, as al­most half the country’s land is un­in­hab­it­able. It does have some breath­tak­ing sights though, like the Great Ocean Road, Uluru, and the Great Bar­rier Reef, but, when it comes to the amaz­ing landscape–to–bare land ra­tio, New Zealand still wins with its nat­u­ral beauty. prime min­is­ter of the time, Robert Mul­doon, sug­gested that this was hap­pen­ing to raise Aus­tralia’s IQ.

Aus­tralia then started play­ing dirty, with the ‘Un­der­arm Bowl­ing In­ci­dent’ of 1981. It was also dur­ing this time in the ’80s that the world was be­com­ing ob­sessed with Aus­tralia, and Ki­wis were be­ing mis­taken for Aussies — let’s be hon­est, it’s not that hard to see why, just take one look at our flags! An Aus­tralian man once even tried to sell New Zealand on the in­ter­net.

The jokes didn’t stop there, though. Aus­tralia be­gan to have a field day with jokes at the Ki­wis’ ex­pense. Which was when Aus­tralia started get­ting the up­per hand and be­gan get­ting quite smug.


We Ki­wis then thought, what bet­ter way to prove that we’re not Aus­tralians than on the sport­ing field? Be­fore each game, we do the tra­di­tional haka to in­stil fear, which led to the de­struc­tion of the Aussies in the an­nual Bledis­loe Cup for over a decade … or is that ‘decades’?

The bat­tle then spilled over into other sports. Things were get­ting rather heated, so we Ki­wis brought out the big guns — The Lord of the Rings tril­ogy. In the mo­tor­ing world, we came out with Bruce Mclaren, Chris Amon, and Denny Hulme, to name but a few.


Re­cently, in the clas­sic car world, a few un­scrupu­lous Aussies have come to New Zealand think­ing that we are naive enough to be taken for a ride. Un­for­tu­nately, from time to time, some of us do get bit­ten by con artists (as I’m sure many of you will have

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