Bonhams’ £3m 2018 London Olympia sale: Pre-War cars to the fore

Bonhams’ £3m 2018 London Olympia sale: Pre-War cars to the fore 7th December 2018

Collectors looking to the Bond St team’s final auction of the year for some sense of direction for the market in 2019 will be scratching their heads. Despite a general trend towards younger models, the average year of cars offered at Olympia was 1962. Of the seven lots that breached £100k, all bar an early DB2 was pre-War.

At the same event in 2017 that figure was 1971 and only last Saturday in Bond St it was 1974. The exception was the early Aston Martin DB2 (pictured, top) consigned by Elliot Moss, the son of racing legend Sir Stirling, which sold over estimate (£130k to £160k) for £201,250 all-in.

Sell-through by number at Olympia was up on 12 months ago (68% vs. 59%) and comfortably beat Saturday’s shaky 34%.

At a glance:

* Gross: £3,067,813 (2017, £3,120,465)
* Percentage sold by number: 68% (2017, 59%)
* Top-selling car: 1921 Rolls-Royce 40/50Hp Silver Ghost 'London-To-Edinburgh' Tourer, £276,000 gross, £240,000 net (est. £300k to £400k)
* Well sold? The 1936 Talbot BG110 Sports Tourer (£90k to £130k) that went for £189,750 with premium
* Well bought? It was complete but needed recommissioning and poignantly came from a vendor of “advancing years”: the £112.7k 1958 Aston Martin DB Mk III. It will come to all of us
* One to take away? DB Mk III apart, how about the 1964 Mercedes-Benz 220 SEb Coupé, a manual car with one owner since 1966 and just 7,500 miles on the clock? To you, £8,625 gross

Several cars were announced in the saleroom as selling without reserve. This, and a stiff talking-to by the motoring team, injected some reality into vendors’ expectations. It clearly worked, though 71% sold below low estimate.

Interestingly, the older models that topped the charts were ‘old school’ – “Grandpa likes classic cars” – and unlikely to turn up at Soho Farmhouse or a friends-and-family West Country shoot. Try doing a VSCC winter trial in the showy, cream and yellow 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca De Ville. It still sold for £138k. That’s a lot of weddings.

Modern casualties on the day included the Dino 246 GTS, the 308 GTB Vetroresina and the Bentley S2 Continental Sports Saloon. The stylish Sage Green 1960 Bentley S2 Continental Flying Spur (£90k to £120k) sold for an affordable £94,300.

Confused? Join the club, but the key point to take away from this auction is that business in the UK might not be quite as bad as it looked only a few days ago. RM takes centre stage in LA this weekend, and in just over a month’s time the international circus will regroup in Scottsdale.

As always, let K500 be your guide.

Bonhams at London Olympia, 3 December 2018 – Results (2017)

Total gross cars: £3,067,813 (£3,120,465)
Number of cars not sold: 25 (36)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (3)
Total number of cars: 77 (88)
Number sold: 52 (52)
Percentage cars sold by number: 68% (59%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 49% (46%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 71% (44%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 87% (75%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 6% (15%)
Average value of cars sold: £58,996 (£60,009)
Average year of cars offered: 1962 (1971)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 9% (6%)

Photos by Bonhams