LAST CHANCE SALOON?
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