The Magic Market Roundabout: What's Around the Corner?
By Simon de Burton
Shortly after buying my house in an undesirable part of London 20 years ago, I met a man who lived in an adjacent street. His name was (and probably still is) Paul Flintoff, he was aged in his early 30s, owned a thriving property business and had already acquired the cars of his dreams: a Daimler V8 250, a Ferrari 308 for which he paid £9,000 when it had 9,000 miles on the clock, and a Ferrari F40 which cost him £150,000 when it was three years old. But which, at the time, had dropped in value to less than 100k (fabulous 'F40 POW' registration mark not included).
He used to store the 'rraris in a couple of council lock-ups rented for £10 a week, but often left them parked in the road as he used both on a fairly regular basis. Apart from the fact that he's moved to somewhere more salubrious, I bet he wouldn't do the same thing these days - especially if he's seen the catalogue for Gooding and Co's Amelia Island sale happening on Friday. According to that, an F40 is now worth up to $1.8 million, plus 10 per cent buyer's premium. So more than $2m in reality.
Recent examples, however, have 'only' sold for around $1.5m. So it will be interesting to see whether the red hot 'modern classic' Ferrari market really is moving to the next level, or if sense might prevail (apparently the long-reviled 348 and even the once-despised Mondial are now becoming 'desirable').
Indeed, the entire, three-day run of auctions - at which Bonhams, Gooding and RM will offer 479 cars between them - should be interesting, not least because it might prove the truth in the old adage that 'trees don't grow forever'.
With all the excitement surrounding Artcurial's success with its Baillon collection, it was easy to overlook the fact that several top-line cars sold in Paris barely scraped low estimate (even with the inclusion of buyer's premium), a situation also seen at January's Arizona sales.
Truly serious collectors will, of course, always pay big money for the 'best of the best' rarities and those will always have true value - but is, for example, the 1997 Porsche 993 Turbo S also on offer with Gooding for $325,000 really rare enough to justify such a sum? Especially in 'rare' Ocean Jade Metallic (apparently it's the only one. Wonder why?).
RM - or 'RM Sotheby's' as it's now officially called - also seems to have surprisingly high hopes for some of its offerings, not least the headline 1955 Jaguar D-Type that is well short of being 'original' in as much as, for reasons explained in the catalogue, it comprises major parts from, er, two different cars.
Check out Lot 182, too. It's a 1973 911 RS 2.7 in 'Touring' trim and it's up for $775,000 - 975,000. Just two years ago, the house sold the exact same car for a shade more than $500,000. We know the market's 'strong', but have RS prices really doubled in the interim?
If nothing else, such numbers make even the best pre-war cars seem value for money (especially when calculating prices by the inch). RM's stunning 1930 Duesenberg Model J, for example, looks fair at $1.2 million, as does a 1912 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 'Roi de Belges' tourer estimated at $500,000 - 600,000.
It will be Bonhams, however, that sets the scene, kicking off the trio of sales on Thursday with 184 cars and some more down-to-Earth estimates. It has an F40, for example, at $1.2 - 1.4 million and a 1997 911 993 Turbo (albeit not an 'S') at $180,000 - 220,000.
In this market, however, only the very bold would risk their shirts on betting whose numbers are the right ones.
But we can safely say that Flintoff's £150,000 F40 wasn't such a bad buy after all....