New challenge for auction houses

Distancing and lockdown leads to creative ways for buyers and sellers to get together


With lockdowns and social distancing in full swing, it’s not a great time to be an auctioneer. One of the first classic car sales to be affected by coronavirus was Gooding and Co’s ‘Passion of a Lifetime’ collection, postponed a fortnight before its April 1 date in London.

The collection had the potential to gross £45m-plus. If it was as successful as hoped, it would have been a timely fillip to the market.

While Gooding had no option but to postpone – the American firm had chosen Somerset House as its venue – other UK auctioneers have managed to keep moving.

Both Bonhams and H&H, for example, quickly adapted to the situation by offering restricted, by-appointment viewing and

holding sales behind closed doors with bids being made remotely. The drive-through format of Bonhams MPH sale at Bicester Heritage was maintained through a livestream.

H&H was no longer able to hold its sale at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, due to the closure of the building to the public. But it swiftly moved the admin element to the Red Lion pub at nearby Whittlesford Bridge and arranged walk-around videos of each lot, which potential buyers could rely on for evaluations before bidding remotely.

For the time being, this type of format could be the new normal. Credit must go to the auction houses for acting swiftly, so let’s hope buyers still bid enthusiastically…


2006 Ford GT. Sold for $553,000 R.M. Sotheby’s

Values of the Ford GT fell off a cliff during the financial crisis of 2008, with some savvy cash buyers snapping up low-mileage, pre-owned models for as little as $100,000 (£83,000). Now the best ‘standard’ GTs often change hands for three times as much, with really special examples – such as this one (above) – fetching even more. In addition to being one of the 343 Gulf-liveried ‘Heritage Editions’ produced in 2006, the car had recorded a mere 2.4 miles from new. How, one wonders, could the owner resist driving it?


1993 Toyota Supra. Sold for £25,875, Silverstone Auctions

Believe it or not, the vendor of this 627bhp Japanese rocket was a 74-year-old club racer. Up, running and ready to go – complete with a Brian James covered trailer on which to transport it – the car offered an easy route to an array of motor sport events.


1938 Rover 10 Special. Sold for £11,480, Historics

A well-built pre-war special can be a delight to own and drive. Based on the chassis of a Rover 10 saloon car, this special was built to its current spec over 20 years ago using simple, inexpensive parts. It looks the part while being far easier and cheaper to maintain than a pedigree 1930s car.


1986 Peugeot 205XT. Sold for £2813, Silverstone Auctions

With an array of rallying extras that included harnesses, race seats and a full roll cage, this mechanically almost standard 1.4-litre Peugeot offered an excellent entry into club competition. The bodyshell appeared to be rust-free, and a new exhaust system, recent brake job and long MOT meant little need for immediate spend.


1967 Meyers Manx. Sold for $456,000, Bonhams

Yes, it is that dune buggy, the Meyers Manx which was driven by Steve McQueen, as the star of 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair. The Manx was built with his input. After filming, it was bought by a Lincoln dealer in Hawaii where it remained for decades before the Manx was then treated to a ‘platinum quality’ restoration before the sale.


1997 Porsche 911/993 Carrera SA. Sold for £110,880, Historics

The values of classic Porsche 911s have dipped, but not in the case of the best and most original examples, such as this 993. The last air-cooled 911, the 993 remains as exciting and usable today as it did when launched. This car was as good as new, registering just 16,613 miles. 17 official Porsche services pointed to a pampered life.

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