The Market


£2.367m DB4 GT Lightweight star of subdued Bonhams Bond St sale

£2.367m DB4 GT Lightweight star of subdued Bonhams Bond St sale 7th December 2019

Thank goodness for No Reserve. Had the cover car not sold, this afternoon's already slim £4.43m gross would have been whittled down to just over £2m – a far cry from 2014’s £12.9m, when we were turned away from a packed main saleroom and had to watch on screens on the ground floor.

Today’s sell-through by number was a meagre 29%, down further from last December’s 34%, which is a worrying trend but symptomatic of a jumpy UK market with Brexit unresolved and the possibility of an extreme socialist government in only a few days’ time.

At a glance:

* Gross: £4,433,550 (2018, £5,070,750)
* Percentage sold by number: 29% (2018, 34%)
* Top-selling car: 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT 'Lightweight' £2,367,000 gross, £2,100,00 net (est. £2m to £3m)
* Well sold? The wacky 2001 Ferrari 550 GTZ Barchetta at £575k all-in. Go find another (buyer)
* Well bought? The DB4 GT, a cracking car, almost too of-its-time to suffer the inevitable 21st Century restoration
* One to take away? DB4 GT again; we loved it

The Lightweight Aston with period hillclimb history was the real deal and the subject of serious bidding, starting at £1m and finishing at £2.1m, sold in the end to a British Aston sales and restoration specialist. Add a £300k bill to the final with-premium price of £2,367,000 and that’s where restored and interesting DB4 GTs are sitting today: c.£2.75m. The car had its original block but not its cylinder head or correct David Brown close-ratio 4-speed gearbox (easily solved, at a price).

The rest of the cars in the catalogue – tidy enough, and well displayed in Bonhams’ smart Bond St HQ – were either modern supercars, easily available at a dealer with a guarantee, or everyday classics (Testarossa, 512 BB, 356 B Cabriolet, R Type Continental) that feature in most upper-level auctions or at many specialists. All could be bought anywhere in the world tomorrow. The Rolls-Royce 20/25, Auburn and Messerschmitt Tg500 Microcar were expensive fish out of water.

Despite RM selling a ‘chairs ‘n’ flares’ red Dino GT for big money (£432.5k) last month, no one wanted the non-original colour, South African-restored car offered today. Presentation in first-delivered Rosso Bordeaux rather than obvious Rosso Corsa, let alone an Italian restoration, would have made all the difference.

The RHD X Pack V8 Vantage was a nice but nothing special car and sold for £324,300.

Auctioneer James Knight put on a brave performance, but few non-selling cars received any meaningful bids.

Next stop Arizona, where No Reserve rules and more pragmatic US buyers and sellers mean deals done and healthier figures posted. Consignors of high-end European cars will be looking to Paris Rétromobile in February and Amelia Island in March – for them, and the salerooms charged with selling their collections, on the basis of recent UK sales, Christmas can’t come soon enough.

Bonhams at Bond St, 7 December 2019 (2018)

Gross: £4,433,550 (£5,070,750)
Number of cars not sold: 24 (19)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (0)
Total number of cars: 34 (29)
Number sold: 10 (10)
Percentage cars sold by number: 29% (34%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 25% (21%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 70% (50%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 90% (90%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 0% (0%)
Average value of cars sold: £443,355 (£507,075)
Average year of cars offered: 1979 (1974)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 3% (7%)

Photos by K500