2021 January US auctions: the provisional figures are in
With the ink still drying on after-sale deals, we take a look at the raw data from this year’s virtual Scottsdale Week.
Stop press: updated with final results on 25 January 2021.
Compared with 2020, with a fewer number of lots the average price per car sold increased. The sell-through-by-number was a healthy 82%.
Overall, the winner was the Canadian giant, which ran a traditional, fast-paced sale to a bank of phone bidders and a select audience on site. Gooding played it safe with an online-only offering of good-enough cars via its excellent app. Bonhams doubled its average price per car this year by cataloguing fewer, better quality entries. However, viewing online, the glacial speed at which its event was run brought new meaning to the term ‘live sale’.
At a glance. Bonhams, Gooding and RM Sotheby’s combined:
* Gross: $47,931,320 (2020, $74,121,930)
* Percentage sold by number: 82% (2020, 87%)
* Top-selling car: RM’s 1955 Jaguar D-type $6,000,000 gross, $5,450,000 net (est. $5.75m to $7.5m)
* Well sold? Big bucks for the 4,500-mile 2000 Ferrari 550 Maranello at RM. Estimated at $150k to 200k, it sold for $230k net. That’s $257k with RM’s split 12%/10% premium. And it’s red
* Well bought? The D-type at RM, a great, highly usable car only needing toning down to fit in with modern collectors’ tastes: remove the fin, repaint in cellulose, leave it outside for a bit, fit a single screen
* One to take away? Something we very nearly did: Gooding’s 1966 Mini Moke, the perfect fun car for online sales bought by our online nemesis – clearly not shipping to Europe, nor paying hefty Swiss import duty – for $24,200 all-in.
Bonhams 21 January 2021
Top selling car at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa was the 1959 BMW 507 Series II Roadster that sold $260k under its low estimate for $1,809,000 gross, a consequence of a non-matching engine and wrong colour.
The giant pre-War Mercedes 540K Cabriolet A did not find a buyer. Its vee-screen might have added a zing, but buyers looking for a Cab’ A, the most sporting 540K below a Spezial Roadster, are not wooed by four seats.
Despite offering a third of the cars of its 2020 Scottsdale auction, the Brits grossed 71% of last year’s total in 2021. A ‘less is more’ approach clearly works.
Gooding Geared Online, 18-22 January 2021
The complete, but for restoration 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose came out top online for the Santa Monica company, selling for $1,760,000 net ($1,936,000 gross) against its $2m to $2.4m estimate, a sum probably fair to buyer and seller alike.
‘Just one more bid’ is almost irresistible to those used to eBay and Bring a Trailer, and this pushed interest in the 1968 Meyers Manx dune buggy (est. $40k to $50k) to nearly double its top estimate: $101.2k with Gooding’s 10% buyer’s across-the-board premium for online sales. Another entertaining entry was the 1972 Citroën SM Land Speed Racer combo, which also sold well ($203.5k all-in).
The Bertone-bodied Aston Martin DB2/4 DHC went for $968k gross, way off its $1.43m at Pebble in 2017. This car is probably better suited to a conventional sale.
Credit where it’s due, the purely online sales conducted by the established firms might be slightly more expensive than newcomers such as Bring a Trailer, but the slick presentation and the companies’ reputations are a step above.
RM Sotheby’s 22 January 2021
Viewing RM’s 87-car catalogue hammered away by Maarten ten Holder over a few hours from the comfort of an armchair in the UK, it looked business as usual. The Canadians would normally offer nearly twice this number of cars over two days in Arizona, but in today’s climate this might have been a step too far. As it was, last year’s gross was easily bettered.
Other than the well-bought (the equivalent of £4.4m, or €3.65m) D-type, big figures were posted by the 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Tourer by Corsica ($4.74m, from the same Far Eastern consignor, the subject of much work over the years), the 2020 McLaren Speedtail sold under estimate for $3.28m, and the upright 1954 Ferrari 375 America Coupé by Vignale that achieved $2.56m. It sold for $1.98m in 2011. All prices include buyer's premium.
Perhaps considered unfashionable today, the 1932 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Coupe by Fisher was nonetheless the subject of a fierce battle that ended in $1,022,500 with premium paid for a car estimated at $750k to $850k. The 2.7 Carrera RS lacked its original engine and interior. In a picky market, the smart-looking Signal Yellow car did not sell.
So, what is the state of the market now?
In good shape. No one misses a field of also-rans at Scottsdale. The average value of cars sold is up, as is the number of cars sold above top estimate: 19% vs. 8% in 2020, and that’s at a markedly lower percentage at No Reserve. The total value of the top 10 cars sold this year beats 2020 by some 20 per cent. Other than Gooding’s one-off sale at Hampton Court in 2020, the D-type sold by RM last night is surely the most expensive car sold at auction since the spread of the pandemic. That sort of figure, $6m to $8m for a ‘no stories’ car, is probably the limit for an online-only or socially distanced sale.
Without the buzz and atmosphere of a ‘real’ physical auction, though, the market for $10m+ cars remains the preserve of other channels.
Bonhams, Gooding and RM Sotheby’s† combined Arizona sales January 2021 (2020)
Gross: $47,931,320 ($74,121,930)
Number of cars not sold: 28 (52)
Number of cars withdrawn: 5 (6)
Total number of cars: 155 (394)
Number sold: 127 (342)
Percentage cars sold by number: 82% (87%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 64% (51%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 57% (74%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 72% (86%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 19% (8%)
Average value of cars sold: $377,412 ($216,731)
Average year of cars offered: 1970 (1968)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 37% (70%)
Top 10 cars sold by value at Arizona sales January 2021
1. RM 1955 Jaguar D-type $6,000,000
2. RM 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Tourer by Corsica $4,735,000
3. RM 2020 McLaren Speedtail $3,277,500
4. RM 1954 Ferrari 375 America Coupé by Vignale $2,557,000
5. Gooding 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose $1,936,000
6. Bonhams 1959 BMW 507 Series II Roadster $1,809,000
7. RM 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Alloy Coupé by Boano $1,352,500
8. RM 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster $1,066,500
9. RM 2019 McLaren Senna $1,044,000
10. RM 1932 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Coupe by Fisher $1,022,500
Total value of top 10 cars 2021: $24,800,000 (2020, $20,466,000)
Bonhams at Scottsdale, 21 January 2021 – results (2020)
Gross: $5,896,400 ($8,349,720)
Number of cars not sold: 8 (21)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (2)
Total number of cars: 37 (110)
Number sold: 29 (89)
Percentage cars sold by number: 78% (81%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 69% (24%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 69% (76%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 79% (88%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 7% (4%)
Average value of cars sold: $159,362 ($75,907)
Average year of cars offered: 1968 (1963)
Number of cars offered at No Reserve: 11 (75)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 30% (68%)
Gooding Geared Online, 18-22 January 2021 – results (2020)
Gross: $7,001,500 ($35,482,000)
Number of cars not sold: 10 (16)
Number of cars withdrawn: 2 (2)
Total number of cars: 34 (138)
Number sold: 24 (122)
Percentage cars sold by number: 71% (88%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 49% (64%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 58% (70%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 79% (82%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 13% (11%)
Average value of cars sold: $291,729 ($290,836)
Average year of cars offered: 1969 (1972)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 21% (69%)
RM Sotheby’s at The Otto Car Club, Scottsdale, 22 January 2021 – results (2020)
Gross: $33,069,420 ($30,098,130)
Number of cars not sold: 15 (15)
Number of cars withdrawn: 3 (2)
Total number of cars: 84 (143)
Number sold: 69 (128)
Percentage cars sold by number: 82% (90%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 63% (56%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 48% (77%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates: 64% (91%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 25% (7%)
Average value of cars sold: $479,267 ($235,142)
Average year of cars offered: 1971 (1968)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 46% (73%)
Photo by Alamy