Bonhams’ £19.25m sale
With so much stuff being hammered away on both sides of the Atlantic as a potentially more volatile auction year gets up to main season speed, the $9.74m (£6.81m) record breaking performance of a 1937 Bugatti 57SC during Bonhams $27.5m (£19.25m) Amelia Island, Florida, sale may have bypassed your market monitoring screens.
The Vanden Plas bodied Sports Tourer generated an opening bid of $6m (£4.2m) and bidding quickly accelerated to $8m (£5.6m), not running out of enthusiasm until a strongly applauded $8,850,000 had been bid on the Big Screen, costing the winning American private collector $9,735,000 (£6,814,500) with premium.
Not only was this the most valuable pre-WWII motor car ever sold in the annual Florida sales, but also the highest priced 57SC sold at auction, and the second most expensive Bug ever auction-sold behind the Kellner Coupe at Christies in 1987.
The Bonhams 57SC alone not only accounted for over a third of thee Fernandina Beach sale total, but the $9.73m paid was more than two thirds of last year’s premium-inclusive total for 64 cars. And contrary to a popular and current misconception that all prices are heading south, the $126m spent on collector vehicles at the Bonhams, Gooding and RM Sotheby’s auctions in Florida this year was also a record, being 24% more than one year ago.
So, what’s ahead? The February figures from Historic Automobile Group International Indices show declines in three out five Indices with the biggest softening in Ferrari prices paid with a 2.12% correction month on previous month and a 0.99% fall for the first two months of the year. Porsche prices paid meanwhile are reckoned to have fallen by less, by 0.62% during February trades, but by 5.05% for the year to date.
Excluding Ferrari and Porsche sales however, the HAGI Top Index actually went up in February, gaining 1.6% month on month. But then, and reflecting some unhealthy growth in consumption, the Live-ex 100 Fine Wine Index also gained 1.17% in the same period.
With its loss-cutting Indian owners calling time, and a nationalising-averse regime prevented from bailing out our steel industry by EEC bureaucrats, depressed workers whose jobs will be deleted by market forces could well launch the Port Talbot Beer Index into space. Figuratively speaking, and along with the declining number of citizens who appreciate making things rather than opening boxes of imported goods, I drown my sorrows with theirs. If there are any plants or skilled workers left to resurrect post-Brexit, and assuming that a ‘fair competition’ Chinese steel tariff barrier has been erected by entirely new leaders, I would suggest that ‘Great British Steel’ has a nice nostalgic ring to it. After all, most of our native classics were fashioned from ye olde taxpayer funded British Steel. The bad old days were actually quite good.
Richard Hudson-Evans has been reporting on classic car sales for more than 25 years.