Quentin Willson sees great buying opportunities thrown up by market uncertainty
Don’t despair about current market uncertainties, – look hard enough and you’ll find plenty of quality bargain classics just waiting to be snapped up
This year predicting the market has been as easy as drawing up laws against the sea. Hardly surprising given the blizzard of background distractions – the World Cup, fears of an accidental hard Brexit, global trade wars, Trump’s continual spooking of the markets, a blisteringly hot summer... Things looked pretty rum for the first six months with plenty of unsold cars and some auction sales rates hovering as low as 50 per cent.
Then in July, surprising us all, Bonhams’ Goodwood sale and Silverstone’s Classic produced a more encouraging set of results – £830,625 for a ’58 Merc 300SL Roadster, £343,125 for a ’72 Ferrari Dino GTS, £159,750 for a ’92 Mercedes 190 2.5/16v Evo II, £101,250 for an ex-royal Family ’75 Range Rover, £3.8 million for the ex-john Surtees BMW 507, £10 million for ‘2 VEV’, the ex-essex Racing ’61 Aston DB4 GT Zagato, £1.9 million for the Goldeneye DB5 and £404,700 for ‘UPJ 75’, the Tulip Rallywinning first AC Ace ever built. Decent prices for exceptional cars.
But if you’d been on the ball from January to July you would have found spectacular bargains lurking in all those downbeat sales. Such as the as-new Us-spec ’98 Jaguar XK8 convertible with just 6k miles sold by Barons in July for an insanely cheap £6820. In June Brightwells dispatched a very smart and original Jensen CV8 MKIII for just £21,800 – the lowest I’ve seen for years. Not to mention £6700 for the 64th Silver Shadow built, a shiny ’66 in Georgian Silver with 60k miles and a substantial history file – another thumping bargain. Brightwells also sold a near-concours ’66 Sunbeam Tiger for £57,000 – half the rebuild cost – while Barons knocked down a ’94 MG RV8 with just 18k miles for £16,500 – again one of the cheapest I’ve seen. SWVA sold an older restoration ’72 Interceptor III in Canary Yellow with good history and 72k miles for a very reasonable £18,400, plus premium.
For epic value for money, Barons’ 2001 Merc CL500 has to take the biscuit. Mint with just 59k miles and full history, this gorgeous V8 coupé sold to a delighted punter for £3300. Beat that.
So, don’t be glum about the current market uncertainty – see it as a forest of new opportunities. Almost every auction has classics being sold for less than established market values and there’s clearly a significant churn going on as elderly or hard-up private owners bail out of cherished cars. Financial pressure on consumers has increased the supply of metal coming to market. Turn up at the smaller sales with some readies and an open mind and you can nab a bargain. Study the catalogue in advance, target restored or low-mileage stuff and you’ll be surprised what you could own.
Even Bonhams’ posh Goodwood sale had low-priced treasures. How about an official government bullet-proof 2010 Jaguar XJ8 (complete with titanium roof) used by Baroness Thatcher and David Cameron, with just 22,700 miles for £27,083? For a much-photographed Number 10 limousine, that’s no money at all. So cheer up everybody – the world may feel like it’s out of control, but everyman classic cars haven’t been this affordable for years. Enjoy them while you can.
Bulletproof ex-prime ministerial XJ8 sold for a bargain £27k
Quentin Willson had a nine-year stint presenting the BBC’S Top Gear, has bought and sold countless cars and has cemented a reputation as everyone’s favourite motoring pundit.