Brightwells end the year in fine style as over 80% of classic vehicles are sold yet again
Brightwells rounded off 2014 in fine style with 85% of lots sold in their final sale of the year on Wednesday 26th November for a total of £1.44m. This means that the sale rate never went below 80% for the entire year, an outstanding achievement by any measure and proof that the market for classic cars and motorcyles shows no signs of slowing down after an unprecedented seven year run of continually bouyant prices. A huge crowd of over 2,000 people were in attendance on the viewing and sale days, who between them bought some 150 classic vehicles with buyers from as far afield as Singapore, Germany, the Czech Republic and Finland.
Top seller on the day was the spectacular 1960 Facel Vega HK500, a right-hand drive automatic model that had covered only 2,000 miles in the hands of one owner since a full restoration in 1990. Undoubtedly one of the finest surviving examples, it was worth every penny of the £99,000 it cost an English collector to secure it and will no doubt prove a shrewd investment for the fortunate new owner, this being an exceptionally glamorous machine that has already doubled in value within the last five years.
Another model that has soared in value of late is the iconic Porsche 911 (930) Turbo. Although the original 3.0 litre cars are still most sought-after by collectors, the later 3.3 litre models have also come on very strongly and it cost a new owner £69,300 to secure the superb 40,500 mile 1989 Targa on offer, more than £20,000 above the pre-sale estimate. Illustrating the importance of condition and mileage, an identical car with 116,300 miles under its wheels and numerous cosmetic issues to attend to could only raise £34,100 just five lots later. This made the £18,480 realised by a 1985 Carrera 3.2 Cabriolet in attractive Glacier Blue look good value while a water-cooled 2003 Carrera 4S looked positively cheap at just £14,300 (these 3.6-litre 996 models being superb machines which are inexplicably undervalued in the stampede to buy air-cooled models, a situation which surely cannot continue).
Another very strong performer was a 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Pagoda automatic in original right-hand drive. In one family ownership since 1984 and with a recently rebuilt engine, it looked especially good in black with a red interior and soared way beyond top estimate to finish on £59,400, being bought by a well-known TV celebrity as a Christmas gift for his wife, the lucky lady! Other Mercedes prices of note included £20,900 for a rare in right-hand drive 1954 220 Saloon, and £10,780 for a highly original 1964 190c Fintail which had recently completed a gruelling 5,000 African rally yet looked none the worse for the experience, further proof of the fine build quality of these Sixties Stuttgart machines. A beautifully presented 1986 300SL Roadster in Smoke Silver looked good value at £9,680 and you would never have guessed that it had 124,500 miles under its gleaming wheels.
A freshly restored 1958 Triumph TR3A with rare hard top, unusual Pearl Grey paint and an enlarged 2,190cc engine fetched £25,850 which was £5,000 more than predicted, further proof of just what a devoted fan base these charismatic if somewhat spartan roadsters enjoy. A very sharp ex-USA 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII BJ8 deserved every penny of the £41,800 required to secure it, as did a 1969 Marcos GT 3.0 V6 with a chequered history that included a full rebuild at Marcos in 1970 following an accident. With dramatic ‘E-Type from the darkside’ styling, there can be few more arresting machines at the £13,970 level required to secure it.
Pukka Jaguar E-Types are considerably more pricey and the three examples on offer were all hotly contested, a cosmetically scruffy but matching numbers right-hand drive 1963 Series One 3.8 Coupe fetching a well-above-estimate £43,450 while a fully restored 1966 Series One 4.2 fetched £33,000 despite being a less attractive 2+2 model and a 1970 Series Two 4.2 Coupe looked well bought at just £30,800. Other Jaguar results included £9,680 for a rare XKR100 Coupe, £5,750 for a stunning 1994 XJS 6.0 V12 Coupe and £18,700 for an incomplete XJ13 replica project.
The Daimler marque was also well represented, a pair of SP250 Darts making £29,700 for a smart 1960 older restoration and £18,150 for a slightly scruffy 1961 recommissioning project. Much admired during the viewing was a stunning 1968 V8 250 Saloon with just 53,000 miles on the clock and superb Opalescent Light Blue paintwork which made an impressive £22,550. Even more remarkable was the price achieved by a 1959 Daimler Ferret Scout Car. Realistically estimated at around £9,000 it was hotly contested by a European telephone bidder and a London-based collector before finally falling to the home player for a mighty £16,500, thus setting a new auction record for the model.
Everybody loves an Aston Martin and two very different examples were successfully hammered away, the first an unfinished restoration in the form of a 1975 V8 Series 3 Automatic with all the hard work done which raised a top estimate £37,400, the second a stunning 2001 V12 Vanquish Coupe which fetched the required £48,400 (despite being recently repainted in white after an unfortunate paint stripper episode involving an aggrieved spouse!). An equally impressive GT was the 1975 Jensen Interceptor MkIII from long-term ownership and with bills for a £50,000 restoration in the late 1980s which looked well bought at £15,400, this being a model that can now fetch double that amount in tip-top condition.
At the more affordable end of the sportscar spectrum, all five Alfa Romeos on offer found new homes, a 1960 2-litre Spider 102 Series restoration project leading the way at £14,520, a highly original 1975 2-litre Spider Veloce 105 Series close behind at £13,200 and a pair of 1990 2-litre S4 Spiders fetching £5,940 and £4,400 apiece. A well-presented 1971 Giulia 1750 Berlina, the Carabinieri’s favourite hot pursuit vehicle, also looked like a lot of fun at £6,160. Sticking with the Italian theme, a completely derelict but extremely rare c.1934 Lancia Augusta March Special Tourer which was offered at no reserve fetched an impressive £12,100 and is now on its way to a new home in Holland.
The two BMWs in the sale also sold well, a smart but high-mileage 1989 635CSi Highline Coupe with ultra-rare 5-speed manual gearbox fetching the required £7,920 while a barn find 1973 3.0 CSL Coupe in need of total restoration made £10,000.
All three Bentleys got away successfully, a mechanically good but cosmetically scruffy 1950 Bentley MkVI Saloon raising £18,700 while a pair of smart but relatively high mileage 1989 and 1994 Turbo R models fetched £7,480 and £6,820 respectively. A 1970 Rolls-Royce Mulliner Park Ward Drophead Coupe in need of some interior refinishing found a south coast buyer at £17,820 and a super-smart 1989 Silver Spirit II with only 30,000 miles on the clock looked good value at £12,100.
Among the older machines on offer, a nicely mellowed 1949 MG TC that had been restored in the early 1980s and only lightly used since fetched the required £21,450 while a 1934 Morgan 3-Wheeler recommissioning project also did well at £24,200 despite being something of a ‘bitsa’. A 1938 Riley Kestrel restoration project with the desirable 2.5-litre ‘Big Four’ engine pulled £19,800 and is now on its way to a new home in the Czech Republic. A no reserve 1937 Morris Commercial Postal Van from the Stondon Motor Museum also attracted plenty of interest, being finally hammered away to a northern collector for £9,570.
Most intriguing of all the pre-war cars was the 1920 Varley Woods 4-Seat Tourer, thought to be the only surviving example of around 160 cars made by this obscure London manufacturer. A rather crudely styled machine with a 1.8-litre ohv Dorman engine, it had a wonderful back-story which included the information that one of its makers, Ernest Vernon Varley, came from a family of perfumiers and stage artistes who also made tin cans and mouth organs from their base in an old laundry in Acton, while the other, John Woods, was a former African river trader who ended his days being eaten by a lion in Nyasaland! All of this eccentric detail no doubt contributing to the final price of £15,400 paid by a collector from the Scottish Highlands.
All but five of the 22 motorcyles on offer were also hammered away successfully, top price being the £38,500 required to secure a 1960 Manx Norton 500 from a deceased estate, double the pre-sale estimate and thought to be a record price for a Manx with no particular race history. Also of note was the more modest £4,400 paid for a cosmetically scruffy 1946 Triumph Model 3T 350 which would have fetched about half that amount had it not been first owned by a certain William Lyons of Warwickshire, rather better known as the founder of Jaguar Cars Ltd.
As ever at Brightwells, bargains were hard to spot but an extremely rare and luxurious 2000 Bristol Blenheim 3 with just 46,000 miles on the clock looked a snip at just £30,800 having shed almost £100,000 from new! A 1979 Porsche 928 Coupe with good paint but a rather tacky interior could yet prove a shrewd investment at just £4,400, this being a model that is widely tipped as something of a ‘sleeper’ in the current market. Despite setting a new auction record for the model, a 1980 Austin Allegro Equipe must also be considered well bought at £3,960 as the vendor had just spent £10,000 restoring it to show condition – ouch…
“Yet again we were delighted with the results of the sale which marked a fitting end to our most successful year to date,” said Brightwells consultant, James Dennison. “We maintained an 80%+ sale rate for all five sales in 2014 which clearly demonstrates that we know our business and are managing to pitch our estimates at the correct level in what is a fast-moving and sometimes confusing market. We predict that 2015 should be another good year with no signs of any significant slackening in demand for classic vehicles in the short to medium term at least. We would like to thank all our customers, buyers and sellers alike, for their continued support and to wish you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.”