Bonhams takes the heat in Chantilly

Bonhams takes the heat in Chantilly 1st July 2019

Auctioneer Malcolm Barber kept a remarkably cool head at Chantilly while onlookers sweltered in temperatures approaching 32deg. Of the three big cars offered yesterday, only the Gordini racer sold, but there were enough buyers picking up other cars at keen prices to give Bonhams a respectable 66% sold by number. It was a marked improvement on 2017.

This is a tough gig for the Brits. Chantilly is a one-day event, the high-rollers are there to win a pot and enjoy fabulous French food and wine in the Cercle Arts & Elegance VIP Hospitality, and if there was dedicated auction car parking, I missed it. Not at all like Artcurial’s representation of the Fall of Rome at Rétromobile, the Bonhams marquee at Chantilly, a five-minute walk from the action, was well-ordered yet full. A different crowd, perhaps – on the day, tickets to the concours started at €50.

And it was a bidder in the audience who scooped the diminutive four-cylinder Gordini (below), a former Le Mans car eligible for all the best events at some 40 per cent off its upper estimate. The definition of ‘niche’, its eventual selling price was fair all round.

At a glance:

* Gross: €2,721,758 (2017, €1,898,650)
* Percentage sold by number: 66% (50%)
* Top-selling car: 1952 Gordini Type 15S, €690,000 gross, €600,000 net (est. €700k to €1m)
* Well sold? In the scheme of things, to get one of the three big lots away was good going
* Well bought? The ex-Tour de France Automobile 1954 Salmson 2300 Sport Coupé by Chapron. A lot of character for €50,600 with premium
* One to take away? The engine-swap (small to large) Invicta was a fine-looking British pre-War sports car eligible for many entertaining events and priced on the button at €276k with premium

Neither the Cobra 427 (perhaps better suited to a US sale; Bonhams had a transatlantic bidder on the ’phone) nor the BMW 507 (an older restoration, with non-matching engine, colour and wheels) found new owners. Perhaps the days of offering token, million-plus headliners at smaller sales are numbered?

The two RS Porsches were withdrawn pre-sale.

The Bond St team will be on home ground this weekend, with a catalogue at the Goodwood Festival that lists 84 cars and much automobilia. On the back of a better-than-anticipated French sale, there’s all to play for in West Sussex, and Simon and I will tell you about it from the saleroom as the chairs are stacked away.

Bonhams at Chantilly, 30 June 2019 (2017)

Total gross cars: €2,721,758 (€1,898,650)
Number of cars not sold: 13 (17)
Number of cars withdrawn: 2 (0)
Total number of cars: 38 (34)
Number sold: 25 (17)
Percentage cars sold by number: 66% (50%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 25% (16%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 76% (59%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 80% (76%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 0% (6%)
Average value of cars sold: €108,870 (€111,685)
Average year of cars offered: 1960 (1938)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 16% (21%)

Note: perhaps it was the heat, but in Bonhams’ post-event press release the saleroom quoted – à l’Artcurial – prices with VAT added to the buyer’s premium. This is against common practice and we shall be watching out for a repetition at Goodwood this Friday.

Photos by K500