Historics has only been trading for six months but the auction house’s farewell to 2010 was its third event already: shame that snow, ice and polar temperatures hindered attendance of both public and cars for sale. However, the brand new i-bidding system pioneered by Historics kept some healthy competition between hall and cyber-bidders well alive.
One of the highlights of the event, the 1939 DB18 Drophead Coupé by the Carlton Carriage Company (estimate £200k/£250k), the only one - out of a batch of eight - surviving WWII bombings, generated a lot of interest and bidding, perhaps because it was used by Sir Winston Churchill during his pre-election campaigning in 1944 and 1949. Action ground to a halt at £160k, though, leaving the car unsold. Given the period in question, private punters and fans of WWII memorabilia and vintage cars are getting rarer and older, and dealers are clearly more prudent with their money than enthusiast collectors.
A late and off-catalogue appearance, the 2007 Phantom ‘Conquistador’ by Mansory – an £850k car with enough ‘presence’, given its elegant matt black exterior and carbon fibre interior, to be displayed at the Dubai Motor Show – got impromptu offers of up to £370k, despite its unexpected arrival. It was parked right outside the auction tent, and its sheer size cast a ‘Sleepy Hollow’ kind of gothic, intimidating shadow onto the entrance.
Other bidding into the six-figure category was provoked by the immortal Carrozzeria Touring-bodied Aston Martin DB4: no self-respecting auction would be complete without one of those, and this well-presented and unmolested example, a Series 4 with factory overdrive and wiring (estimate £120k/£140k) caught an i-bidder’s attention and was offered £106k.
With so many cars offered in ‘absentia’ and private potential buyers being put off by the challenging weather conditions, the hall was still unusually packed, perhaps mainly by dealers, judging by the familiar way in which they were being addressed by the auctioneer. Stern faces concentrated on bidding silently, and only a suddenly accelerating pace in the proceedings, the excitement in the auctioneer’s voice or the tense looks of Historics’ personnel on the phone or computers (with i-bidding contributing to over 5% of the action) gave the auction its tangible moments of glory.
As always, the most fun was to be had with private punters fighting to secure the car of their dreams: a beautiful and sexy Mercedes 190SL (estimate £40k/50k) on sale ‘in absentia’ went to an i-bidder for £61k, and the feisty 1963 Fiat Abarth 600D (estimate £7k/9k) to another cyber-buyer after frenzied bidding to £8700.
Historics’ Auction Director, Edward Bridger Stille, was still taking calls from prospective buyers increasing their bids to secure a ‘provisional’ deal after the end of the auction.
‘The market for vintage cars continues to be strong for both investors and enthusiasts, as long as the vehicles on offer are of high quality, have the correct mechanical history and interesting ‘emotive’ background,’ he said. ‘We only started trading in June this year, but with a strong and compact team of professionals we feel that we have already earned a place in one of the most competitive markets in Europe.’
Historics reports over 49% sales conversion. The ‘big freeze’ may have affected the business thermostat of the auction house’s last event in 2010, but the newest player on the UK auction scene has just been consigned a batch of 55 prop cars from the ‘40s, fresh off the set of an American movie, the filming of which has just finished. ‘We have already stirred the interest of many a potential buyer for those,’ says Bridger Stille.
Roll on 2011!