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

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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.

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