The Market


Business as usual: RM returns to Hershey

Business as usual: RM returns to Hershey 10th October 2021

In a galaxy far, far away from the world of limited-edition supercars and seductive post-War European GTs, American enthusiasts gather every year to pay their respects to cars from the early days of motoring. After a two-year hiatus due to Covid, last week the Antique Automobile Club of America’s Eastern Division Fall Meet was back. And so was auction partner RM Sotheby’s.

A 1931 Duesenberg Model J Roadster ‘Green Hornet’ (pictured, top) was the only car to break the million-dollar mark, selling for $1,650,000 including RM’s across-the-board 10% buyer’s premium. Est. $1.4m to $1.8m.

This market is so resilient and reliable, it’s hard to draw any conclusions from the results other than the fact that the figures are so similar 2015-2021. The gross is still around $12m-$15m; nearly all cars sell; and each one averages around $100k. No Reserve is essential: every Hershey sale has over half of the catalogue that will find a buyer whatever. The average year is mostly pre-WW2, varying from 1924 to 1941.

Tellingly, of the four cars that did not sell two were post-War European classics – a BB512 and an XK Jaguar.

What has happened over the last seven years is that Hershey, Auburn and increasingly Amelia Island have become the places to sell Americana from this era. ‘Great Gatsby’ entries at Monterey Week have declined in the same period, more frequently now being only best-of-the-best Duesies, Pierce-Arrows and Packards.

RM Sotheby’s at Hershey, 7-8 October 2021 – results (2019)

Total gross cars: $12,814,450 ($15,215,750)
Number of cars not sold: 4 (3)
Number of cars withdrawn: 2 (0)
Total number of cars: 133 (208)
Number sold: 129 (205)
Percentage cars sold by number: 97% (99%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 80% (71%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 64% (48%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 76% (63%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 16% (24%)
Average value of cars sold: $99,337 ($74,223)
Average year of cars offered: 1939 (1924)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 54% (82%)

Photo by RM Sotheby’s