Bonhams’ £13.8m Revival sale: Robert Brooks’ last hurrah

Bonhams’ £13.8m Revival sale: Robert Brooks’ last hurrah 8th September 2018

It might not have been a Ferrari GTO or Mercedes W196, but it was still something of an emotional moment when Robert Brooks hammered away Lot 210, a humble Mk 2 Jaguar, earlier today. Following the recent sale of the company, it was his very last action on the rostrum as Bonhams shareholder and chairman. The £27,600 generated helped the longstanding supporters of the Revival on to a final gross of £13,828,075.

Worries that Wednesday night’s malaise in London might have travelled south were allayed somewhat by a packed saleroom and a slightly healthier sell-through of 61%. Prices achieved weren’t great but with auctioneer Jamie Knight on robust form, the old alliance mostly got the job done and 10% broke through top estimate.

It was the second motor car sale at Bonhams' new buyer’s premium rate of 15% on the first £500,000 of the hammer price and 12% on the balance. This is quite a hike on the old £50,000 at 15%, 12% for the rest. Time will tell how buyers react to the news.

£754.2k all-in 300 SL Roadster
£754.2k all-in 300 SL Roadster

At a glance:
* Gross: £13,828,075 (2017, £9,948,243)
* Percentage sold by number: 61% (2017, 65%)
* Top-selling car: 1964 Shelby Competition Cobra for £1,359,000 gross, £1,200,00 net (est. £1.2m to £1.5m)
* Well sold? £631,000 gross for the 3.5-litre Jaguar SS100 was big money. A ‘British’ presentation of subdued colours on non-chromed wheels certainly helped
* Well bought? Another competition E-type sold for far less than it would cost to build: £264,500
* One to take away? In the mood for racing, we liked the red Cobra

The fallout from the controversial JD Classics debacle provided a number of the cars in the catalogue, including the top-selling Cobra and the ex-Cobra team transporter. The red Shelby Cobra was a lot fiercely fought over on the telephones, finally selling for £1,050,000 hammer, which is under estimate, but at £1,191,000 all-in that’s around $1.5m: market-average for a competition car. The big blue Fiat-Bartoletti did less well: £350,000 hammer, £402,500 gross against an estimate of £500k to £600k.

No one fancied the brown Bugatti
No one fancied the brown Bugatti
Top-selling red Cobra
Top-selling red Cobra

The ex-Keith Richards Ferrari Dino hit a high note, selling for £442,750 with premium – big money compared with the €237,080 reportedly paid for it at Coys’ Monaco sale in 2014.

Significant non-sellers on the day included the two LaFerraris and the Veyron (stratospheric estimates), the 250 GT Lusso (needed a full repaint back to silver grey) and the DB5 (007’s car fails again). The Rolls-Royce ‘state cars’ were much tipped pre-sale – by Bonhams, it has to be said – but failed to receive an honour.

Big bucks for the SS100...
Big bucks for the SS100...
... and a good price (£345k) for the DB1
... and a good price (£345k) for the DB1

So how did the Bond St boys succeed where the Canadian Titan struggled only a few days ago? Association with events can work both ways, but this time the close proximity of serious racers helped Bonhams sell the competition machinery. Also, the estimates were keener and vendors clearly happy to do a deal. Plus, the Revival catalogue lacked make-or-break headliners whose sale (or otherwise) has a critical effect on the mood in the saleroom.

Finally, Bonhams is a strong act at Goodwood, carefully selecting which cars to present at the Festival and which at the Revival. Prime mover Robert Brooks had a good idea to team up with the then-Lord March – present in the saleroom for his final Goodwood lot – all those years ago.

Bonhams at the Goodwood Revival, 8 September 2018 (2017)

Total gross cars: £13,828,075 (£9,948,243)
Number of cars not sold: 44 (38)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (1)
Total number of cars: 114 (108)
Number sold: 70 (70)
Percentage cars sold by number: 61% (65%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 36% (53%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 56% (61%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 79% (83%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 10% (14%)
Average value of cars sold: £197,544 (£142,118)
Average year of cars offered: 1965 (1967)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 1% (3%)

Photos by K500