For the first time, an internationally sanctioned automotive auction was held in South Africa, and we were there to soak up the excitement
IT’s a freezing Highveld evening but excitement warms the large crowd as auctioneers Chris Routledge and Nicholas Wells begin their wellrehearsed routine, slowly stoking the anticipation and loosening the wallets of all those gathered in Johannesburg for the first auction of its kind in South Africa. Under the hammer of famous London-based auctioneers Coys of Kensington, in partnership with Concours South Africa, will be the cars of Wayne Plit’s collection. You may remember the feature we did on Wayne’s assortment in the June 2016 issue.
Filling the floor of a large warehouse on the grounds of Steyn City, the collection is expertly parked to give potential buyers the ideal view of each car’s best angle. Although you can never judge a car until you’ve driven it and had it on a lift for a more detailed inspection, the cars appear to be in excellent condition. Several of the vehicles have low odo readings; a few are clearly concours ready; and some already boast that honour.
It’s an eclectic collection in every sense because, over the years, Wayne has chosen to collect cars he loved as a child and desired as an adult; that’s why you’ll find sportscars and sedans spread over many generations and from a plethora of brands. There is pretty much a car for all manner of enthusiast but it’s clear some draw more eyeballs than others, including the odd motorbike.
Proceedings begin with a few bikes before Chris and Nicholas turn their attention to the stars of the show; the cars which will require particularly deep pockets to earn a winning bid.
Among these is a 1992 964 Porsche Carrera RS N/GT that sees competition between attendees and telephone bidders push it up to an impressive R4,0 million before the gavel signals a new owner. A 1968 Ford Shelby GT500 goes to a buyer from New York for R2,6 million; I wonder
if he’ll drink from the unopened six pack of beers in the boot dating back to the 1980s. Another highlight is the only Ferrari at the auction, a 1969 365 GT 2+2; many enthusiasts were worried beforehand it would be sold to a foreign buyer. The relief is palpable when the auctioneer puts the phone down and enthusiastically proclaims, “It is staying in South Africa!”
A few rarities catch buyers’ attentions, too, including a 1973 Renault Alpine A110 1600S waiting to be unleashed on a snaking Alpine mountain pass, and a couple of lightweight, lowmileage Lotuses: a 2007 Exige S and a 2001 Elise S1. The former features some serious modifications done by none other than Toyota Racing Developments (fitting, as this Exige boasts a Toyota engine).
There is also a number of special Italian cars in the mix, including a 1973 Maserati AM120 Khamsin Prototype, a 1964 Lancia Flavia Vignale Convertible and a beautiful 1967 Alfa Romeo Spider Duetto 1600. The Brits are in attendance, too, with a few original classic Minis and a special 1960 Jaguar XK150S Drophead Coupé.
Some quirky additions don’t attract as much admiration but the crowd adores them. One such vehicle is a big-eyed 1970 Mazda E360 pick-up equipped with a tiny 359 cm3, liquidcooled, 17 kw, two-cylinder, two-stroke engine.
Several cars end up achieving higher prices than auction goers expected but that’s understandable when the event has a distinctly international flavour. South African classics are highly sought after, generally being in better original condition than their European or North American counterparts that have been exposed to harsher climates and salted winter roads.
Our weak currency also allows foreign buyers great value and, even though some cars are sold for prices higher than they would normally fetch in our local market, they’re still often cheaper than what foreign buyers would pay back home.
Plans are in place to make this auction an annual event, with a number of cars already lined up for next year’s Concours South Africa.
01 A 1971 Porsche 911T, one of four 911s in the auction. 02 The stylish cabin of a 1969 Ferrari 365GT 2+2. 03 One of three built, the 1935 Singer Le Mans racecar. 04 Auctiongoers scrutinising the cars. 05 A 1963 Honda Black Bomber Café Racer. 06 A 1997 Birkin 7 sportscar. 07 An early 1949 Morgan Sports 4/4 Roadster. 08 The collection of cars was eclectic, with a vehicle to suit nearly every taste. 09 From right to left: a striking purple 2005 TVR Tuscan alongside a 1969 Ferrari 365GT 2+2, an original 1968 Ford Shelby GT500 and a 2007 Lotus Exige S. 10 Britain was also represented by this Morgan Aero 8. 11 The auction even garnered attention from overseas through telephonic bids.