Five things to take away from the 2019 Rétromobile sales

Five things to take away from the 2019 Rétromobile sales 11th February 2019

Rétromobile was good, wasn’t it? Everyone agrees the European season-opener sets the standard for shows, and despite worries about ‘gilets jaunes’ disruption (unfounded), this year’s was better than ever. The auctions, though, were a mixed bag. With Amelia Island in three weeks, what’s the take away?
 
1.    Swim or die. Like some species of shark that must keep moving to stay alive, the auction houses have to maintain momentum, grinding vendors into submission immediately before and after the auction to get cars over the line. No one does this better than Canadian machine RM, which did post-auction deals on €7m in less than 24 hours.
 
2.    The big squeeze. Not helped by a lacklustre catalogue bursting with insipid oldies, Bonhams felt the pressure on Thursday. RM had the buzz with a glitzy Wednesday evening sale run at a snappy pace, while on Friday local outfit Artcurial had the benefit of the week’s star lot and a location at the epicentre of the show. Lacking both, despite the elegant and airy Grand Palais venue, the Brits suffered.
 
3.    What about those oldies then? Much talk last week centred on the high percentage of pre-War entries. It’s true that sporting ‘event’ cars from the '20s and '30s are still dependable performers, but how do you value something that’s just plain ‘old’? While buyers of a ‘Gullwing’ or a ‘Daytona’ have all the data at their fingertips, many mundane pre-War models are getting harder to estimate… and sell.
 
4.    “So, what’s wrong with it?” In too many cases, just about everything. From two Porsche 550s with non-original bodies and engines to the 250 GT Lusso, a stolen car recovered without body and serviceable engine, many entries failed the barest test.
 
5.    Cutting loose. Some North American-style pragmatism on the part of sellers crossed the Pond with the eventual sale of the Ferrari 275 GTB/6C alloy and the Bugatti Chiron, both way below low estimate and the former at a hefty loss since bought at RM two years ago.
 
Away from the auction arena, the mood at the show was positive. Business on the stands was brisk and all the right blue-chip collectors were in good spirits – and in many cases buying. It felt like there was a tangible up-tick in confidence for the right cars at the right price. And €81m+ of auction sales is the best since 2016, when Artcurial sold the €31.4m Ferrari 335 S.
 
The significant reduction in sell-through by number – 71% vs 80% in 2018 – probably says more about the cars offered than the state of the market in early 2019.
 
Next stop the balmy ocean breezes of Fernandina Beach. As always, K500 will be your guide.

You can download a list of results, sorted by make and model, HERE.

2019 Paris Rétromobile Sales. Artcurial, Bonhams and RM Sotheby’s combined (2018)

Gross: €81,629,041 (€67,425,288)
Number of cars not sold: 107 (80)
Number of cars withdrawn: 2 (5)
Total number of cars: 372 (394)
Number sold: 265 (314)
Percentage cars sold by number: 71% (80%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 47% (50%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 60% (54%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates:  78% (71%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 14% (20%)
Average price of cars sold: €219,433 (€171,130)
Average year of cars offered: 1963 (1960)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 33% (44%)


Top 10 cars in Paris 2019 by value

1. Artcurial 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Touring Berlinetta €16,388,000
2. RM 1987 Ferrari F40 LM €4,842,500
3. Artcurial 1966 Serenissima Spyder €4,124,000
4. RM 1956 Porsche 550 RS Spyder €3,042,500
5. RM 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB/6C Alloy €2,860,000
6. Artcurial 2009 Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss Edition €2,556,000
7. RM 2018 Bugatti Chiron €2,275,000
8. RM 1994 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport €2,030,000
9. RM 1996 Ferrari F50 €1,700,000
10. Bonhams 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A €1,581,250

RM Sotheby’s, 6 February 2019 (2018)

Gross: €32,035,838 (€23,745,475)
Number of cars not sold: 21 (14)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (1)
Total number of cars: 83 (83)
Number sold: 62 (69)
Percentage cars sold by number: 75% (83%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 58% (54%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 63% (65%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates:  76% (83%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 21% (9%)
Average price of cars sold: €516,707 (€344,137)
Average year of cars offered: 1978 (1976)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 16% (43%)

Bonhams, 7 February 2019 (2018)

Gross: €11,197,435 (€15,109,773)
Number of cars not sold: 46 (33)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (1)
Total number of cars: 140 (136)
Number sold: 94 (103)
Percentage cars sold by number: 67% (76%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 31% (52%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 73% (62%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates:  83% (78%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 11% (16%)
Average price of cars sold: €119,122 (€146,697)
Average year of cars offered: 1953 (1957)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 31% (26%)

Artcurial, 8 February 2019 (2018)

Gross: €38,326,768 (€28,570,040)
Number of cars not sold: 48 (34)
Number of cars withdrawn: 0 (3)
Total number of cars: 147 (175)
Number sold: 99 (141)
Percentage cars sold by number: 67% (81%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 47% (45%)
Percentage of cars met or sold below low estimate: 51% (44%)
Percentage of cars sold below avge of estimates:  82% (62%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 12% (26%)
Average price of cars sold: €387,139 (€202,624)
Average year of cars offered: 1963 (1955)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 45% (56%)

Photos by Alamy/K500