How have sales been so far and how do you see them going into the second half of 2017?
Sales have been very good so far this year and we always seem to sell at least 80% of entries so the market is as strong as ever and we don’t anticipate any downturn in the foreseeable future. There are reports that the top end of the market has slowed down somewhat and probably peaked a year ago, which may have deterred some of the speculators who were only in it for investment purposes – perhaps no bad thing.
Why do you think classic auction popularity continues to increase?
There is no doubt that people are extremely comfortable buying at auction now. You get a huge selection of cars all under one roof and you also know you will pay a fair market price in open competition with other buyers and you know that you still have a fair degree of consumer protection.
Does Brightwells’ location help when it comes to finding cars?
We are very fortunate being in an area that is positively awash with classic cars thanks to our rural location, with plenty of wonderful driving roads and very little traffic. That said, we attract entries from all over the UK and beyond because sellers know we have an exceptional sale rate and we attract a vast crowd to each sale with over 60,000 people viewing our website prior to each sale.
Do buyers want original-condition or restored cars? Is there any hard and fast rule?
It depends partly on the age of the car. There is no doubt that many people prefer a beautifully preserved and original car over a restored one that may have lost much of its character through over-restoration and, in particular, through retrimming. However, such cars are very hard to find and fetch correspondingly high prices when we are lucky enough to offer them. More modern classics need to be as sharp and original as possible if they are to fetch a good price. Any signs of deterioration or modifications from standard will seriously devalue a more modern classic, as will high mileage or lack of service history. There is a vast gulf in price between mint, low mileage moderns and shabby, leggy ones which owners would do well to realise!
‘The enthusiast end of the market is still going great guns’
Ferrari 456M GTA is in Brightwells’ next sale.