November 2010

Breaking Market News — We've Been Expecting You, Mr. Bond...

£2,912,000: two million, nine hundred and twelve thousand pounds, or $4.7 million if you prefer.  Had Mr Goldfinger known what James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 would one day fetch at auction, he might well have just kept the car and given his henchmen the day off from robbing Fort Knox. As investments go, the car’s seller Jerry Lee can demonstrate to sceptical friends that $12,000 spent on a tired old movie prop back in 1969 wasn’t such a bad idea after all...

From the moment that RM announced the ex-Goldfinger/ Thunderball DB5 would headline this year’s Automobiles of London auction- complete with machine guns, water cannon, wheel mounted tyre slashers à la Ben Hur and, of course, the de rigeur passenger ejector seat- it was inevitable that this sale would be all about Astons. RM confided that they could probably have filled the entire catalogue with normal DB5s offered by owners eager to hang on the coat tails of the Bond car. Of the 106 Lots on offer, no fewer than 18 were Astons.

Auctioneer Max Girardo works up a frenzy Auctioneer Max Girardo works up a frenzy
Shaken, not stirred...(read on for more cliche) Shaken, not stirred...(read on for more cliche)

They didn’t disappoint. Applause followed the sale of a 1989 V8 Vantage Volante to Prince of Wales spec (the more powerful engine but without the garish bodykit, as preferred by HRH for his own car) to a UK buyer for a whopping £201,600, followed by a DB4 Series V Vantage at £257,600, both right-hand drive cars in normal auction condition. A lovely early DB2 coupé, sold new to aviation pioneer Lord Brabazon and originally registered ‘FLY 1’ (but sadly no longer) drew more applause at £196,000, followed by a slightly neglected looking DB6 MkII Vantage coupé at £173,600. Even a humble DBS V8, once the scourge of backstreet mechanics hopelessly trying to keep its primitive Bosch fuel injection running, set another auction record at £92,400.

If your tastes tend more towards Latin exotica, there was plenty on offer. To say that neither of the Lamborghini Miuras was fresh to the market is British understatement, but both found new homes: the ex-Rod Stewart right-hand drive SV, retrimmed to remove stiletto heel marks in the cockpit headlining, sold to a Hong Kong buyer for £700,000, whilst the much debated ‘SVJ’, correctly announced by auctioneer Max Girardo as ‘an SV with period Jota modifications' and a veteran of enough sale appearances to earn its own frequent flyer card, finally found a new home in the UK at a sensible £728,000. An early RHD Countach LP400, its original red paint visible under the yellow respray, changed hands for £196,000, whilst the elegantly understated Islero S from the Roger Moore film ‘The Man Who Haunted Himself’ set a new benchmark at £106,400.

Miura SV with post-Works Jota mods done in '74: £728k to UK bidder Miura SV with post-Works Jota mods done in '74: £728k to UK bidder
Early LP400 Countach, fair value at £196k Early LP400 Countach, fair value at £196k

A personal favourite was the ultra rare (admittedly because nobody either wanted or could afford to buy one when new) ’66 Ferrari 365 California Spyder, a car tailor made for Austin Powers with its diagonally stitched suede seats and ultra cool Riva-like mahogany dashboard. A US telephone bidder despatched a French dealer to secure it for £739,200. Its predecessor, the equally bespoke Ferrari 500 Superfast in rare-but-not-so-saleable RHD configuration, didn’t fare as well; bidding faltered short of the reserve price, not helped by a last minute announcement that its (original) engine had probably been restamped.

Also worth mentioning were a ’56 Maserati A6G/2000 Zagato at a superficially good value £700,000, an auction déjà vu handicapped by a brand new body (the original was destroyed when the car was submerged in the 1966 Florence floods- restorations take that little bit longer in Italy...) and an early Ferrari F40 with 9,000km which showed just how fashionable these have become, selling to the UK trade at £316,400 after the auctioneer promised the wavering bidder from the podium to personally hunt down the service records. Rounding up the classic Italians, a very handsome short nose Ferrari 275GTB was spot on at £537,600, a 15,000km Enzo stayed home at  £575,000 whilst a ballsy UK dealer looked past the dust to snap up the Singapore-consigned Daytona for £128,800...

Best interior prize should go to ultra stylish Ferrari 365 California Best interior prize should go to ultra stylish Ferrari 365 California
Would you like water with that Sir? Flood damaged Maser, £700k Would you like water with that Sir? Flood damaged Maser, £700k

Reminding us that French coachbuilders were once the equal of anything their rivals could produce, a dazzling 1904 De Dion Bouton with more brass fittings than a yacht and a guaranteed London-Brighton entry next month found a buyer post-block for £280,000 whilst one of the stars of the show, the swoopy Figoni & Falaschi bodied Talbot-Lago T23 Teardrop coupé (longer chassis, smaller engine than the definitive T150 SS) offered a lot of ‘wow’ factor for £1,792,000 and appropriately heads towards the Cote d'Azur.

Finally, in case we’ve given the impression that any collectors car is a guaranteed instant money-spinner, spare a thought for the gentleman who had his brand new Pagani Zonda R delivered directly from the factory to the auction to be bravely offered without reserve. Just fifteen are being made. List price:  €1.45 million, or £1.2 million, plus local taxes. RM sold it to a new owner for £720,000 plus premium and taxes. I don’t know what the other 14 buyers will think, but this seller probably isn’t on Mr Pagani’s Christmas card list...

RM 2010 Automobiles of London sale total on the night: £19,299,280 (2009: £11,000,000). Success rate: 87% (2009: 87%). Most memorable scene: new owner Harry Yeaggy and Max Girardo driving away at midnight in the $4.7m James Bond Aston Martin to find a pub to celebrate. It’s raining and British pubs close at 11pm. 007 would have approved.

Voluptuous Teardrop Talbot-Lago cost buyer almost £1.8m Voluptuous Teardrop Talbot-Lago cost buyer almost £1.8m
Acceleration? Fast. Depreciation? Don't ask. Acceleration? Fast. Depreciation? Don't ask.
C-Type had led a hard early life but others fared worse C-Type had led a hard early life but others fared worse
Lack of bids was more down to over exposure Lack of bids was more down to over exposure
Ex-Lord Barazon DB2 flew: £175k hammer price (est. £90-130k) Ex-Lord Barazon DB2 flew: £175k hammer price (est. £90-130k)
Vendor declined £155k for open version Vendor declined £155k for open version
Stylish Ferrari 275GTB sold post-auction for £537,600 Stylish Ferrari 275GTB sold post-auction for £537,600
Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? Someone in Hong Kong did: ex-Rod Stewart SV, £700k Do Ya Think I'm Sexy? Someone in Hong Kong did: ex-Rod Stewart SV, £700k
Pussy Galore's helicopter stood guard outside RM HQ Pussy Galore's helicopter stood guard outside RM HQ