Brightwells bucks post-referendum blip


Confidence-boosting 68% sale rate

Brightwells bucks post-referendum blip

Brightwells bucks the post-referendum blip with a confidence-boosting 68% sale rate and some exceptional prices for exceptional cars.

Given the momentous events of 23rd June 2016 when Britain voted to leave the European integration that she had been part of for so many years, it would have been surprising if the immediate tremors of this decision had not been felt across the board. The Pound and the Euro fluctuated, stock markets reacted and the corridors of Westminster have now changed hands to a cabinet ready to make brave changes.

The classic car market was not immune and the three major UK auctions held immediately after the Referendum found the going very heavy indeed, with sale rates down as low as 25%. However, this proved to be a temporary blip and some much-needed confidence was restored in Leominster on 13th July when Brightwells bucked the downward trend by managing to shift a highly creditable 68% of the 150 classics on offer for over £1.2m.

Top price of the day went to a scruffy but saveable 1966 Citroen DS21 Chapron Decapotable restoration project. Despite being a non-runner and with incorrect later front wings fitted, its sheer rarity and potential £150k value once restored ensured that it romped well beyond its £40k - £50k estimate to finish on £61,600. Not far behind was a 1933 Lagonda 16/80 Special Six Tourer recommissioning project which had been fully restored in the late 1960s and barley used since. One of only 260 such cars made it also comfortably exceeded its £40k - £45k estimate before being hammered away for £60,500.
A pair of Alvis Speed 20 SA models also did well, a rebodied 1933 Cross & Ellis Tourer in smart condition all round fetching the required £48,400 while a barn find 1933 Vanden Plas Tourer with just three owners and still retaining its original coachwork but with a dismantled and non-original engine fetched an above-estimate £50,600 reflecting just how sought after the VDP models are compared to those from lesser coachbuilders. Another pre-war British Tourer also did remarkably well, a beautiful 1933 Riley Nine Lynx that had only covered some 18,000 miles since a full restoration in the late 1970s and fetched a top estimate £35,200. The two other Rileys in the sale were also sold, a nicely restored 1953 RME raising £10,450 while a more original 1955 RME fetched £9,460 and is now on its way to a new home in Switzerland.

All three Bentleys found new owners, top honours going to a one-family-owned 1952 R-Type in need of paintwork but otherwise very charming and original which fetched £24,200 while a rare 1978 Bentley T2, one of only 558 made and in good mechanical order but with slightly tired Garnet paintwork, cost its new French owner an above estimate £13,860 to secure the car. By contrast a 1990 Bentley Eight with only 64,000 miles and a good history but poor paintwork only fetched £5,500 and looked like a lot of car for the money, Rolls and Bentley saloons from this era being somewhat out of fashion at the moment, as they have been for the last few years. Fortunately the same is not true of the two-door models and a nicely patinated 1974 Rolls-Royce Corniche S1 with desirable Harvey Bailey handling kit fetched a well-deserved £25,300 which made the very early 1965 Silver Shadow look something of a bargain at only £9,000 considering it was in fair condition and was only the 12th such car to roll off the production line.

Jaguars are always popular at auction and seven out of the 10 on offer were successfully hammered away, top price going to an ex-USA 1961 Jaguar XK150 SE Coupe in highly original condition throughout which fetched £57,200 despite being a less desirable automatic model in left-hand drive. The most remarkable result though was the price raised by a superb 1958 Jaguar MkI 2.4 Manual with just two owners and 27,000 miles from new. In stunningly original condition throughout, it raised a mighty £38,500 which is almost certainly a record price for the model being about twice the usual going rate for the humble and relatively plentiful 2.4. Brightwells also hold the record for the MkI 3.4 having sold a superb example in July 2015 for £66,000. Other Jaguar results of note included a well-above estimate £23,650 for a nicely restored 1964 MkII 3.4 Manual Overdrive with desirable power steering and uprated brakes and suspension, and £46,200 for a 1966 Jaguar E-Type S1 4.2 2+2 Coupe that had been restored about 10 years ago.

Other British classics that performed well included a lovely 1974 Bristol 411 which raised £36,300 and a wonderfully original and well-patinated 1915 Albion A10 Flatbed Truck, one of only three known to survive, which fetched £23,100. The real surprise though was the 1985 AC 3000ME, one of only 100 made and with just 21,800 miles on the clock which trounced its £12k - £15k estimate to finish on a mighty £21,120. Interestingly Brightwells had sold a similar car with only 6,500 miles on the clock in September 2013 for £19,800 so this is clearly a model that is more sought after than some of the price guides might suggest and doubtless will continue to appreciate in times to come. A beautifully restored 1973 Rover P6 3500 Automatic also did exceptionally well at £12,980, some £4,000 more than forecast.

Another market significant result was the £40,700 price achieved by the smart 1974 Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, this Bertone-bodied model being a car that has traditionally lagged a long way behind the more dramatic Pininfarina-styled cars and usually struggling to top £20k until very recently. Given the way that all Ferrari prices have soared in recent years it was perhaps inevitable that once-unloved models, such as the 308 GT4 and the Mondial, would begin to catch up eventually. A fully restored 1968 Ford Mustang GT Fastback 302Ci also sold well at £30,800 this being one of the few American cars that consistently attract high levels of interest among UK buyers thanks to its iconic ‘Steve McQueen’ looks and manageable proportions. Equally iconic is the Willys Jeep and it was no real surprise that a c.1944 example offered at no reserve still fetched £10,450 despite being very scruffy indeed. The other American result of note was the £16,500 raised by a wonderfully original 1929 Studebaker President Eight and we only hope that the new owner resists any temptation to restore the car which looks fantastic just as it is!

Switching to the German cars on offer, top price of the day went to a wonderfully glamorous ex-USA LHD 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Coupe which sold for £48,950 and is now on its way back to the country of its birth. Although the car sold within estimate we can’t help feeling that it was the bargain of the day as these beautifully-built Coupes have shot up in value of late with top examples now nudging the £100k mark in Europe and America. A pair of fairly average Porsche 911SC Coupes also fared predictably well, a 1981 example with 150k miles but a recently rebuilt engine rebuild raising £26,400 while a 1983 example with over 217k miles but recently repainted and retrimmed fetched £18,920. The £18,700 raised by a 1997 Mercedes SL500 was a new house record for a W129 Series at Brightwells but was fully explained by the fact that it had only covered 19,600 miles from new and still looked almost showroom fresh.

“All in all we were well pleased with how things went on the day, especially considering all the political turmoil going on at the time, and although our 80%+ sale rate for 14 sales on the run has now come to an end, 68% was very creditable in the circumstances and will hopefully go some way to restoring confidence to a market that has had a few jitters of late,” said Brightwells consultant James Dennison. “Although the top end of the market has definitely lost some of its impetus recently there is still plenty of optimism at the more enthusiast end and our results show that exceptional cars are still fetching exceptional prices. The going is perhaps slightly less easy than it was for run-of-the-mill classics but this is something that vendors will have to come to terms with until the economic situation resolves itself over the next few months. With interest rates still so low, there is little point in keeping money in the bank so we remain optimistic about the general health of the market and would be very surprised if the current hesitation proves to be anything more than a temporary blip.”

To view the results of the July sale in full, please visit and click on ‘Classic Motoring’ or phone 01568 611122. Brightwells’ next sale is on 21st September 2016 and entries are now being invited with free valuations available by emailing The closing date is Friday 19th August so please don’t leave it until the last minute or your entry may have to be deferred until our 23rd November sale.

All the prices given above include the 10% buyer’s premium.