Classic car auction ups and downs

Last month things looked bleak, this time it’s all about virtual sales room success

1966 De Tomaso Vallelunga

In last month’s Speedshop, we opined that enthusiasm for online sales seemed to be tailing off and prices appeared to be stalling. Well, in a ministerial-style u-turn, the classic car auction scene is looking healthy again.

As we are so frequently told, these are ‘extraordinary times’ and it’s quite possible that the situation could suddenly reverse, but there’s no denying the success of Silverstone Auctions late July ‘live online’ sale that grossed £15.6 million with 75 per cent of lots finding buyers, and a £1.9m top lot in the form of a Lamborghini Miura SV. Similarly the £2.2m achieved by Bonhams at its July MPH sale was the highest total yet for one of the Bicester Heritage-based events.

Also notable is how crowded the online auction marketplace is becoming. In addition to long-standing houses such as Bonhams, H&H, R.M Sotheby’s, and Gooding & Co going online, there’s also competition from The Market and the recently introduced seven-day sales run through the Car and Classic website.

The good news for traditionalists, however, is that sales with bidders present in the room are gradually coming back on stream.

Historics held a guideline-compliant £6.3m event in late July, the newly established Hampsons has its first sale on August 31 and even Barrett-Jackson will welcome crowds when it resumes its huge, multi-day blockbuster sales programme with an event in Scottsdale from October 22-24.

1966 De Tomaso Vallelunga (see top of page)

Sold for €321,840. Artcurial

This pretty De Tomaso Vallelunga is believed to be one of just five surviving high-performance ‘competizione’ models fitted with Lotus twin-cam engines. Bought at auction in 2015 from the previous owner who acquired it in 1971, the car was found as an abandoned project having been partly stripped for a repaint. Treated to a three-year restoration, it was presented in superb condition and with an alternative De Tomaso-badged Ford Kent engine as fitted to standard Vallelungas.


1985 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth1985 Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

Sold for £52,500. The Market

The ultimate expression of the 1980s fast Ford, this Moonstone Sierra was one of 10 right-hand- drive prototypes used for the ‘pre-production prove out programme’. Built nine months before the start of production and with 62,000 miles.


1958 Lotus Elite1958 Lotus Elite

Sold for £105,750. Silverstone Auctions

This was the original Earl’s Court Motor Show launch car that was sold new to the renowned musician Chris Barber, who was also a handy racing driver in his day. It raced extensively and won the 1963 Goodwood Tourist Trophy.


1959 Tojeiro California Spider1959 Tojeiro California Spider

Sold for $95,700. R.M Sotheby’s

This was to be John Tojeiro’s final front-engined racing car when he began developing it in 1959, but, as happens to us all, other projects got in the way and he sold it. Now completed, it has a one-off body and a 300bhp GMC straight six engine.


1967 Porsche 911S press kit1967 Porsche 911S press kit

Sold for $11,700. R.M Sotheby’s

The pristine ephemera included brochures for both the ‘S’ and ‘basic’ models, colour charts, technical data and press photographs – as well as exciting news about the introduction of a new wheel design, called the Fuchs…


1932 MG J21932 MG J2

Sold for £26,660. H&H.

In 1991, the vendor of this lovely MG J2 bought it from a specialist dealer for a strong £22,500. Which is a mere £4000 less than it sold for after 29 years of being cherished, enjoyed and maintained. Hardly a boom rise, but you can’t put a value on all those years of fun, can you?