There was the usual good turnout at Brightwells on a sultry July afternoon as a crowd of eager buyers flocked to Leominster to see a host of classic cars come under the auctioneer’s hammer. The phones and the internet were also busy with international bidders from various countries including Denmark, Germany, Norway, Australia and the United Arab Emirates. By the time the dust had settled, 89 out of 126 cars had been successfully sold to give a clearance rate of just over 70% in a sale which had purchasers spending almost £990,000 in total.
Top price of the day went to a 1970 Jaguar E-Type S2 4.2 Coupe, a recent LHD American import with a claimed 13,000 miles from new which had been colour-changed from red to blue and required some detail finishing but still fetched a healthy £59,950 showing just how desirable these iconic British sportscars continue to be in a market which is now showing signs of slowing down in most areas after 10 years of steady upwards growth. Not far behind was a recently restored 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250SL Pagoda Automatic in very good order throughout and from long-term family ownership which raised £59,400.
All three Big Healeys exceeded their pre-sale estimates by comfortable margins, a nicely restored UK market 1959 3000 MkI BT7 leading the way at £40,700, while a recently imported and RHD-converted 1966 3000 MkIII BJ8 in need of cosmetic detailing raised £33,000 and a 1958 100/6 in original RHD and in presentable condition overall made £31,900.
Much admired during the viewing was a superb 1962 Triumph TR4 Roadster with only 300 miles under its alloy wheels since a total nut-and-bolt restoration which made a thoroughly deserved £24,200. In similar but daintier vein, the pair of pretty UK-market MGAs on offer were successfully hammered away, a 1960 1600 Roadster in generally smart order with a desirable 5-speed gearbox conversion and wire wheels but let down by microblistered Iris Blue paintwork fetching £18,150 while a really lovely 1960 1600 Coupe in gleaming red with disc wheels was not far behind at £17,325. A smart ex-USA but RHD-converted 1953 MG TD Roadster with a replacement Gold Seal engine also raised £14,300.
Perhaps the most impressive results of the day were the prices realised by two very different British sportscars. A rare 1954 Sunbeam Alpine MkI Sports roadster in wonderfully mellowed condition following a late-1980s restoration was very keenly fought over, being one of only 1,582 made and perhaps only 200 surviving. With numerous bidders on the phones, the internet and in the room (including a couple of bidders who had come all the way from Norway and Germany respectively), it was battled all the way to a £24,200 finish, almost double its pre-sale estimate, before finally falling to an English bidder in the room.
Equally dramatic was the fierce bidding war sparked by a 1979 AC 3000ME, number 7 of only 106 made, which had undergone a meticulous restoration and upgrading process over a 20-year period by its devoted owner who was cruelly struck down by a terminal illness shortly after he had finished the task. In need of recommissioning after nine years in storage and with badly crazed paintwork on the GRP body, it also doubled its pre-sale estimate before being finally bagged by a local collector for a mighty £24,200. A remarkable result considering that this once-unfancied model was doing well to fetch even half that amount just five short years ago, although there are many who would still consider it well-bought as this rare and brutishly handsome mid-engined sportscar is likely to become ever-more desirable as the years roll by. Just as remarkable is the fact that this is the fourth AC 3000ME that Brightwells have sold in the last five years and we are hoping to offer yet another one in a sale later this year – watch this space!
Also keenly fought over was an extremely rare 1936 SS Jaguar 1.5 Coachbuilt Saloon, believed to be the oldest surviving Jaguar in the UK and perhaps one of only five 1936 models surviving worldwide. In lovely condition throughout, it comfortably flew beyond estimate to finish on £30,250 despite being fitted with a later Ford 1600 Kent cross-flow engine and gearbox.
In similar vein, a pair of graceful Alvis saloons also performed well, a mechanically good but cosmetically average 1966 Alvis TF21 Automatic from a deceased estate fetching an above-estimate £25,300, while an utterly charming and highly original 1927 Alvis 12/50 Sports Saloon which had come to the sale from a private collection in Sweden raised £20,900. Worth every penny too, as Alvis saloons from this era are now exceedingly rare, most having long since fallen prey to the hands of the ‘specials’ builder’s brigade.
At completely the other end of the spectrum was a gorgeous 2008 Aston Martin DB9 Volante in sparkling Tungsten Silver with only 44,000 miles under its wheels which fetched a market-correct £42,900, about £100k less than it cost its first owner just 10 years ago! Looking like a bargain by comparison was a LHD 1998 Ferrari 456M GTA which had come to the sale all the way from Dubai and had a few paint and bodywork issues and precious little service history to warrant its indicated 68,000 miles but still fetched £30,800 – about £130k less than the first owner paid 20 years ago but also about £10k less than this fast-appreciating model would typically fetch in good condition with a full service history.
“As always at auction, there were some surprisingly strong results and it is clear that there are no shortage of buyers out there for quality cars,” said Brightwells’ consultant James Dennison. “The fact that our customary 80%+ sale rate was not quite achieved on this occasion reflects that the market is becoming increasingly selective, buyers competing intensely for the most interesting lots but being more considered when it comes to run-of-the-mill offerings, perhaps sensing that the pressure to jump before the bar rises yet again is easing. There are undoubtedly still pockets of growth, especially in the post-1980 Modern Classics sector, so the market remains dynamic and it will be fascinating to see how things develop over the next few months. We are looking forward to our next sale on 27th September and we already have some interesting cars entered so we anticipate plenty of saleroom drama and continuing high prices for the right stuff.”
Brightwells’ next Leominster Classic & Vintage sale is on 27th September 2017 and entries are now being invited with free valuations available by emailing [email protected]. The closing date is Friday 25th August so please do not leave it until the last minute or your entry may have to be deferred until our 29th November sale.
All the prices given above include the 10% buyer’s premium.