The joys of December in London’s West End!
From Park Lane you see queues of people trying to get into Winter Wonderland then you struggle through the crowds on Oxford Street choosing to dodge busses in the road as better alternative to bag wielding shoppers shouldering their way to Christmas.
Even with a great attendance, the Bonhams salerooms were a comparative oasis of calm and, as usual, a real effort was made in the presentation of the cars.
Having said that, as one looked a little closer under the showroom lighting, the flaws were more evident. One could hear the words of critique from people under the bonnet of the Fraser Nash BMW, the contrast of worn and cracked leather against the restored and shining bodywork of the Auburn Cord and the panel fit and brightwork finishing on the Superleggera Astons.
So, when Jamie Knight took up has position on the rostrum in front of a very full salesroom, he was probably a little on the back foot and that showed in the percentage sales at the end of the day.
First up was a Coombs Mark 2 Jaguar – opening at £40,000, the next bid of £45,000 (£51,750 with premium) on the telephone secured the car. There followed a number of “misses” which included a Dark Green DB5 – the top bid of £440,000 was not unrealistic given the replacement engine but perhaps it should have been started higher than £350,000?
But a few lots later came a Virage Volante 6.3 boasting the provenance of previous ownership by HRH Prince of Wales. £205,000 (£235,750 with premium) shows the value of strong provenance, a point reinforced by the star of the day a Lightweight Aston Martin DB4GT.
Long term ownership and a strong storyline added to the rarity of its Lightweight status and countered an originality that pointed to some potentially high restoration costs, if that is the new owner’s ambition.
Saturday’s papers had been full of predictions for the clash in the desert between Joshua and Ruiz and we were treated to our own clash between industry heavyweights Desmond Smail and Max Girardo on behalf of their respective clients. In the end it was Desmond’s day with a bid of £2,100,000 (£2,367,000 with premium) winning this rare opportunity.
In between, these two Aston successes was a third as a lovely modern DBS Manual made £98,000 (£112,700 with premium).
But successes were few and far between – but in the middle of the pack came a beautiful Aston Martin V8 Vantage “X Pack”. £282,000 on the hammer (£324,300 with premium) was a sound result and made up for a pair of Aston disappointments – the DB6 with its ill-fitting panels and conversion from automatic to manual failed to excite buyers, nor did a Series 4 Lagonda “Wedge”.
In fact, from the “X Pack” to the end there were eight “No Sales” before the event was wrapped up with a lovely 2013 Alfa Romeo 8C Spider which sold for £172,000 (£197,800) with premium – by far the prettiest car of the day!
A better day for Aston Martin but is it all worth the struggles with the Christmas rush for the Bond Street Sale?
When we attended the first Bond Street event, we noted that it was a statement about our hosts and truly, this is a promotional event for Bonhams – how any other car retailer would envy the position, the facility and the drawing power, because make no mistake, in this environment, Bonhams emphasise their position in the classic car market as a retailer.
Like most the auction houses, they retain control of the cars for long after the sale and point to bids as a market indicator of price. We publish those bids, as called, in good faith but with no measure of their veracity. Perhaps auctions need to be brought within the Legislative constraints that other retailers operate under?
Anyway, it is nice to see 2019 ending on a positive note for Aston Martin and that upturn has been reflected in our own small way, so let us take this opportunity to wish all our clients past, present and future, the very best Seasons Greeting and most especially a prosperous New Year.
© BYRON INTERNATIONAL
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