The Market


£5.4m Christmas cheer for Bonhams in Bond St

£5.4m Christmas cheer for Bonhams in Bond St 7th December 2021

The gross might be broadly in line with previous December motor car sales at Bonhams’ West End HQ, but the underlining numbers are the best for the event since the peak of 2014-2015. Plus, based on the results from last Saturday, the Aston Martin market appears to have turned a corner.

Top-selling car was an Aston, a Dubonnet Rosso/Magnolia DB5 restored from ‘barn find’ that achieved £586,200 with premium – probably market correct considering its ca. £400k bill was not from one of the best UK specialists. It was one of nine Newport Pagnell DBs in the sale, 28% of the 32-car catalogue.

At a glance:
* Gross, motor cars: £5,403,838 (2019, £4,433,550)
* Percentage sold by number: 84% (2019, 29%)
* Top-selling car: 1965 Aston Martin DB5 £586,200 gross, £510,000 net (est. £500k to £600k)
* Well sold? The 1970 Aston Martin DB6 Mark 2 Vantage, one of three believed produced in Bahama Yellow. Estimated at £160k to £200k, the vibrant car generated a fierce bidding battle won by a pre-eminent UK restorer who paid £253k all-in
* Well bought? You won’t hit the magic 300km/h on the Mulsanne, but the attractive 1964 René Bonnet Djet II is highly event-eligible and was snapped up for £24,150 with premium

The bulk of the Astons were from Bonhams’ usual Middle East consignor. This time, though, the quality was better, and the trade was buying for restoration: either speculative for resale or on client instruction, a sign of returning confidence to a market depressed by waves of poor-quality DBs at No Reserve. The automatic silver DB6 Mk 2, also from Kuwait, sold well: £218,500 gross against its estimate of £140k to £180k.

Note, though, that these older non-EU cars are subject to 5% import duty. Their modern equivalents from the same source were liable to import duty of 10% +VAT, and VAT of 20% on the hammer price. Some, such as the £97,750 gross LHD 2015 Ferrari FF did not have a Certificate of Conformity, essential for registration in Europe. As always, careful inspection of the catalogue is essential.

Auctioneer Sholto Gilbertson (above) is growing into his role and did well to get the cover car Healey 100S over the line. It sold below estimate, for £575,000 incl. premium. A selection of pre-War cars included a collection of mainly Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars, and an upright 1933 Bugatti Type 46S Two-Door by James Young (pictured top, left) that sold for £460,000 gross. Est. £350k to £500k.

Non-sellers included the Islero, the AC 428 Convertible and the Mercedes-Benz 300Sc.

A feature of the auction was not only the healthy sell-through by number of 84%, but also that nearly a third of cars beat top estimate. It was a far cry from the disappointing figures of 2019, when just 29% of cars found owners at the same flagship event.

The sale was well-attended despite the British government’s last-minute imposition of more pandemic restrictions. It  looks encouraging – barring a sudden upturn in Covid cases – for the next serious European auctions in Paris in only eight weeks’ time.

Bonhams at Bond St, 4 December 2021 (2019)

Total gross cars: £5,403,838 (£4,433,550)
Number of cars not sold: 5 (24)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (0)
Total number of cars: 32 (34)
Number sold: 27 (10)
Percentage cars sold by number: 84% (29%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 84% (25%)
Number of cars sold below low estimate: 7 (7)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 22% (70%)  
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 52% (90%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 30% (0%)
Average value of cars sold: £200,142 (£443,355)
Average year of cars offered: 1973 (1979)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 47% (3%)

Photos by K500