It seems I sold my BMW too cheaply. Classic Car Auction Yearbook quotes a 1995 light blue Z3 making £15,962 $24,200 €22,201 at last year’s Bonham’s Greenwich auction. Certainly it had done only 5,700 miles and was one of 100 James Bond edition cars from the Evergreen Collection so that must be the top end of the spectrum. A blue 1998 Z3M Spider “in good condition” with 80,000 on the clock made £7,416 $11,866 €9,418 at H&H Duxford in 2014. Either way son Craig is now driving a bargain. And his has a hardtop, for which I paid £1200 $1829.34 €1712.50 in 1999.
Credit Suisse is big in classic cars. A partner at Pebble Beach, Monaco Historique and Goodwood this is its seventh year sponsoring surely the essential guide to collectors’ car prices. The substantial €70 tome, about the size of an Automobile Year book, covers sales between 1 September 2014 and 31 August 2015 and indispensable to anybody buying, selling, or even owning classic cars. Besides page upon page detailing what 5,152 cars of 318 makes sold for (or if they didn’t what they were expected to sell for) it is packed with fascinating information from compilers Adolfo Orsi and Raffaele Gazzi. They tell us that for the first time leading auction houses turned over more than a billion Euros in a year and have now twice exceeded a billion dollars. That puts the trade in the big league.
Representing more than 34 per cent of its turnover largely through the high prices they command, Ferraris lead the market. The United States does two-thirds of the business, yet according to Orsi historian, specialist, co-author and president of publisher Historica Selecta of Modena, “Younger collectors have entered the game so ‘younger’ classics are rising in value with increased demand.”
At the book’s launch in October Historica Selecta gave auction house Artcurial Motorcars of Paris an award for the record £12,172,022 $18,644,874 €16,288,000 obtained for a Ferrari 250GT Spyder California on 6 February. A Scaglietti-bodied short wheelbase covered-headlamp one in dark blue with hardtop and leatherette interior, shown at the 1961 Paris Salon it had been owned by actors Gerard Blain and then Alain Delon, and was bought by Jacques Baillon in 1971 for his collection. It was described at auction as, “In original condition,” but “Requires some restoration work.”
Twelve million for a tatty and probably not one of the best Ferraris doesn’t sound tempting. My first Paris Salon was 1963 and I’ve just looked up my report where I describe the new Ferrari 250LM as graceless. Maybe a little harsh but I thought the reverse-rake rear window, like a Ford Anglia, infra dig. I wasn’t much into Ferraris, which always seemed over-rated against the lithe, superb-riding Jaguar E-types I was driving a lot at the time. It was not a good judgement on the 250LM. One sold in 2013 for $14,300,000, another in 2015 for $17,600,000 so it’s probably just as well I am not buying or selling classic Ferraris.
Back then I was more into Austin-Healey Sprites (callow youth, me, Turnberry, about 1960, above) but £25,200 $38,634 €34,483 seems a lot for a 1959 Mark 1 frogeye, even fully restored in Historics at Brooklands on 6 June 2015. Great cars, precise, inspired even and the best possible entry-level to sports cars but essentially cheap and cheerful and really not very quick. I had two and loved them but MGs were more grown-up.
It’s fun looking up memorable test cars. On 14 August 2015 RM Sotheby’s sold a 1998 McLaren F1 for £8,795,875 $13,750,000 €12,377,750 at Monterey. Orange with magnolia leather and alcantara wouldn’t be my first choice for a McLaren; this one had an LM engine fitted later, which would seem a little unnecessary. Surprisingly the book describes a McLaren F1 as LHD. See picture below of the driving seat in the middle.
Aston Martin snobs sniff at the Vantage I tested in 2007 because under Ford stewardship it only had a 4.3 Jaguar V8 of 380bhp. I thought it was great and a bargain at £40,680 $63,123 €56,453 on 11 July 2015 at H&H Chateau Impney. This was for a Coupe with 19,000 miles on the clock and less than half its price new but what an exquisite car. An open one like this (below, pictured same spot as the Z3) might cost more.
Great book. Endless browsing. credit-suisse.com/classiccars and classiccarauctionyearbook.com/en/historica-selecta.