The Market


Christmas cheer for Bonhams in Bond St, its final auction of 2022

Christmas cheer for Bonhams in Bond St, its final auction of 2022 17th December 2022

The December sale at its global HQ has not always been kind to the Bonhams motoring department. The tide turned last year, and yesterday the company posted another solid set of results with over one third of the entries that sold beating upper estimate.

The downside was a lower sell-through by number percentage: 72% vs. 84% in 2021. In-vogue in late-2022 models did well, others did not. The polarisation continues.

At a glance:
* Gross, motor cars: £6,302,700 (2021, £5,403,838)
* Percentage sold by number: 72% (2021, 84%)
* Top-selling car: Ex-George Drummond 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S £1,067,800 gross, £940,000 net (est. £800k to £1m)
* Well sold? It was a No Reserve, non-EU Aston – so liable to extra taxes – but the £207,000 DB6 Mk2 Vantage Automatic bought by the UK trade on behalf of a client for restoration shows that there are still those willing to spend around £500k in total for a restored car in three/four years’ time
* Well bought? The Youngtimer wave has yet to hit Alfa 8C Competiziones. This rare yellow 2009 car went on low estimate for £253,000 all-in, say $307k

The national rail strike hit attendance in the room, but there were clients on the telephones and online. As we saw at RM’s recent Munich event, a significant proportion of bidding at live sales is now conducted via the internet on cars up to and even exceeding £1m. European trade buyers were there to pick up the No Reserve Mercedes supercars, though they lacked the currency advantage of a few weeks ago.

Much interest surrounded the two Lamborghinis from a deceased estate, both without reserve. First up was the Countach (est. £280k to £340k). Auctioneer Sholto Gilbertson (pictured, above) hammered it away at £400k, or £460k with Bonhams' split 15%/12% premium. The Miura started at £500k but was clearly not going to be snapped up for that. Determined bidding continued beyond £900k to finish at £940k against the guide price of £800k to £1m. That’s nearly £1.1m all-in, or $1.3m.

First owner George Drummond’s name is not in the same league of familiarity as supermodel Twiggy or French rocker Johnny Hallyday. However, it was a matching numbers Miura and if restored properly in Italy will owe its new owner at least £1.55m – but still be Rosso Corsa with black vinyl/beige cloth, the most common variant. Probably the right price all round.

Once again, the ex-Middle East Mercedes did well. The 2009 SLR McLaren 722 S Roadster sold for £687,000; 2007 SLR McLaren 722 Edition Coupé £575,000; 2013 AMG G-63 6x6 Pickup £631,000. Each one went way over upper estimate and all were effectively ‘new’ cars. All prices with premium, but don’t forget those extra taxes and duties…

The UK-market Dino GT sold below estimate for £270,250 with premium, its older restoration, RHD and unfancied red paintwork from new holding it back. Well bought. The blue four-door Aston Martin Lagonda V8, purchased for £254,500 in May 2008, sold for £207,000 gross in December 2022. A niche buy.

Non-sellers centred mainly on the older cars, though the matronly, super-rare 1950 Aston Martin Two-Litre Sports Drophead Coupé (DB1) comfortably beat upper estimate at £172,500 gross. The 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante X-Pack and odd-colour 1958 Porsche 356A T2 Coupé went home unsold.

There was much discussion throughout the day about the sensational prices achieved in late 2022 for recent German super-saloons and coupés. Buyers are from all over the world and the market has been strengthened by the number of AMG experts with the records to validate engine numbers, delivery dates and precise original specification.

Would the trend continue in 2023? “Yes”, most agreed. Plus, the 722-series SLR McLarens in particular had been unfashionable and undervalued for a while; these Middle East cars represent the last chance to buy showroom-fresh examples in often sensational colours. It’s not hard to dream of finding a McLaren F1 in similar circumstances. That really would be a Christmas come early.

Bonhams in Bond St, 16 December 2022 – results (2021)

Total gross cars: £6,302,700 (£5,403,838)
Number of cars not sold: 8 (5)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (0)
Total number of cars: 29 (32)
Number sold: 21 (27)
Percentage cars sold by number: 72% (84%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 73% (84%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 19% (22%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 29% (52%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 38% (30%)
Average value of cars sold: £300,129 (£200,142)
Average year of cars offered: 1981 (1973)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 55% (47%)

Photos by K500