The Market


€2m for Bonhams at inaugural, 6 September 2020 Brussels auction

€2m for Bonhams at inaugural, 6 September 2020 Brussels auction 8th September 2020

Less than 24 hours after the tables had been cleared away at Hampton Court Palace, auctioneer James Knight took to the rostrum in Belgium for the Bond St company’s first European sale since Rétromobile.

Comparisons with Gooding’s star-studded Saturday evening extravaganza are unfair but, put simply, it was the difference between a not-be-repeated, best-of-the-best catalogue of just 15 cars and just ‘old stuff’. Suffice to say if a little over a third of the Autoworld cars had not been No Reserve, the so-so sell-through of 54% could have been worse.

At a glance:

* Gross (motor cars): €2,034,925
* Percentage sold by number: 54%
* Top-selling car: 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer Cabriolet €270,250 gross, €235,000 net (est. €220k to €300k)            
* Well sold? At a generally lacklustre event, not much
* Well bought? Unquestionably the 1961 Jaguar E-type 3.8-Litre Series 1 Flat Floor 'External Bonnet Lock' Roadster (pictured, above) for €103.5k including Bonhams’ across-the-board 15% premium. It carried a broad estimate of €120k to €180k

The Northern European market still favours traditional pre-War fare, unfashionable today. Yet the two Mercedes behemoths looked out of place in a catalogue trying to cover all the bases and neither sold. Few cars estimated over €100k did, and the fact that nearly all sold for under mid-estimate says it all. It was another poor result for a BMW Z8 (€138,000 inc. premium), though ‘safe silver’ and North American spec did not help.

Next stop for the Brits is Bonmont in Switzerland, the scene of its stunning, CHF 36.7m ‘Out of Africa’ sale in 2019, which we described as more “drive past Harrods than Pebble Beach”. Bonhams are banking once again on interest from the new collectors of the Middle and Far East, a market for which the catalogue caters. Seized cars to be sold without reserve from the garage of the son of an African dictator don’t come along every day – more conventional circumstances, with all the issues of Swiss title and taxes, could make Bonhams’ task that much harder.

Bonhams ‘The Autoworld Autumn Sale’, Brussels, 6 September 2020 - results

Total gross cars: €2,034,925
Number of cars not sold: 31
Number of cars withdrawn: 0
Total number of cars: 67
Number sold: 36
Percentage cars sold by number: 54%
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 27%
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 69%
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 97%
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 3%
Average value of cars sold: €56,526
Average year of cars offered: 1964
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 36%

Photo by Bonhams