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Coys has developed its own unique salesroom as an alternative to selling under the hammer at auction

Chris Routledge, the managing director of Coys, leans closer. “With some of the sales recently, the auction houses did the best they could,” he says. “But some of the cars at the top end of the catalogues had been on the market for a wee while. So of course those cars didn’t find a home and everyone started shouting, ‘oh it’s the beginning of the end.’ That’s utter rubbish.

“I think it’s more of a Millennium Bug myself, in that it’s all much ado about nothing. We’ll just have to wait and see, and I could be proven very painfully wrong.”

Brave words from a man about to auction off 50-odd cars at that afternoon’s Coys Autosport International sale, including a world record-breaking 2007 SSC Aero TT worth £180-240,000 and a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Spyder worth £250,000.

Some of the cars failed to reach their reserve and went unsold, however a large number were bought post-sale. “I’m afraid we just can’t let that car go for that sum,” said Routledge on a number of occasions. “Do come and see us after the sale though and we can maybe work something out. And so onto lot number 215…”

To someone who didn’t know the history of the 90-year-old company, the speed with which cars were put aside when they didn’t reach their reserve may have seemed a little bizarre. But Coys has what many other auction houses don’t – a salesroom at its Richmond-based ‘high command’ with enough space to keep cars after an auction, and thus no added pressure to sell them on the day. If the price isn’t right, you won’t be handed the keys.

Having moved from its Queens Gate Mews offices in South Kensington three years ago, Coys now has much more space to operate, meaning a 50/50 split between the auction and dealership sides of the business is easily achievable, even with 14 auctions planned for 2009.

The salesroom (below) houses everything from an ex-Schumacher Benetton B191 to a 1972 BMW CSL and a ’59 Cooper Maserati. Oh, and an original Dalek. “One of our guys owned this Dalek, brought it in to show us and we decided that it must be in the shop window,” says Routledge. “We have a two-and-a-half million pound Bugatti in the window and people ring up saying, ‘oh, you’ve got a Dalek in there – how much is it?’”

Dalek or no Dalek, the Coys salesroom is well worth a visit and explains why the company doesn’t need to sell cars under estimate at a sale. In the showroom buyers have more time to view. And there are those who find the auction process intimidating; here they are safe from the urgent words “going once, going twice…”

Auction diary

Our pick of the upcoming sales and the items you can’t afford to miss.

February 6-8 RM Auctions, Collector Cars of Fort Lauderdale, Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, Florida, USA, Tel: 001 519 352 4575

February 7 Bonhams, Collectors’ Cars and related Automobilia, Paris Expo, Porte de Versailles, Paris, Tel: 020 7447 7447

February 8 Artcurial, Classic and Racing Cars, Rétromobile, Porte de Versailles, Paris, France, Tel: 0033 06 1183 7894

February 9 Shannons, Sydney Summer Classic Auction, Unit B, 12 Frederick Street, St Leonards, Sydney, Australia, Tel: 0061 03 8543 2225

February 9/10 Barons, Classic Collectors and Historic Cars, Esher Hall, Surrey, Tel: 02380 668413

March 8 Bonhams, Collectors’ Motor Cars and Automobilia, Banbury Road, Shipton-on-Cherwell, Kidlington, Oxford, Tel: 020 7447 7447

March 9 Shannons, Melbourne International Motor Show Auction, Melbourne Exhibition Centre, Australia, Tel: 0061 03 8543 2225

March 12 COYS, Spring Classics, Royal Horticultural Halls, London, Tel: 020 8614 7888

March 14 H&H, Classic Collectors’ Cars and Automobilia, Stoneleigh Park, Boxton, Warwickshire, Tel: 08458 334455

March 14 RM Auctions, Automobiles at Amelia, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, Florida, USA, Tel: 001 519 352 4575

March 18 Brightwells, Classic Cars, Motorcycles and Automobilia, Easters Court, Leominster, Herefordshire, Tel: 01568 611122

March 23/24 Barons, Classic Collectors and Historic Cars, Esher Hall, Surrey, Tel: 02380 668413

Grand Prix Salmson

We have been asked to clarify that the Grand Prix Salmson featured for sale last month is not the vehicle which contested the LCC Relay Race and Mountain Handicap at Brooklands in 1932, but a sister car.

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