Brightwells held its debut Oxfordshire sale in a tent inside a WW2 hangar on the Bicester Heritage site just off the M40 in what the Herefordshire firm perceived was an open point on the collector vehicle auction map. Twenty of the 60 entries were pre-war cars, which have become less fashionable in recent years and, as a result, statistically much more difficult to shift on or off the classic high street. But despite many of them being too big to fit into most buyers’ storage facilities, 17 of them found new owners at the sale and an unprecedented 85 per cent sales rate was achieved for the older stock.
The top priced oldtimer, which also headed the afternoon’s results, was a ground-up restored 1923 Vauxhall OD 23/60 Kington Tourer with room inside for up to six vintage nostalgics. It sold for £71,500, mid-estimate money. A 1927 Sunbeam 25hp Tourer that had first served as a taxi and then as a breakdown truck during hostilities before being rescued and reinstated to original form in the late 1960s was bagged by an East Anglian collector for a wayover-estimate £44,900. The future of a ‘barn-fresh’ Wolseley Hornet Special with bodywork crafted in the Eustace Watkins workshops in 1933, meanwhile, was hotly contested until a determined buyer secured it for an estimatecracking £14,850.
Before the auction book had been finally closed (and won’t be opened again at Bicester until 24 June during the Flywheel Festival), a total of 42 – or 70 per cent – of the entry had been sold ‘live’ under the hammer or converted from provisionally logged bids shortly afterwards to bidders paying invoices in devalued Sterling from as far afield as Canada, Dubai and Singapore.
Brightwells’ inaugural Bicester Heritage sale – on a weekday at a location beside the M40 corridor, let us not forget – saw a premiuminclusive £953,315 being invested by bidders and an average of £22,698 spent per classic, 40 per cent of which were more than 79 years old.
‘Bidders paid in devalued Sterling from as far afield as Canada, Dubai and Singapore’