The Veteran Car Run always brings car enthusiasts to London and on Saturday, RM Sotheby’s held its new-and-improved London auction, located in the garden of Marlborough House, just a stone’s throw away from St James’s Palace and the Mall. Hagerty UK Price Guide Editor John Mayhead reports on the highlights.
At the heart of the RM Sotheby’s London auction was the Gran Turismo Collection, a group of 18 modern-classic, performance and racing cars entered by a single, UK-based collector, and the £100 cost of the catalogue and significant security presence seemed to have the effect of putting off all but the most serious viewers.
The Gran Turismo Collection was an extraordinary group of cars reminiscent of an unassailable Top Trumps hand. It included the most coveted modern-era Ferrari supercars, comprising 288 GTO, F40, F50, Enzo and LaFerrari, as well as an immaculate Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+, one of just 30 made, a seemingly freshly-restored Lamborghini Miura and an Audi Sport Quattro Group B Works car that had been piloted by Hannu Mikkola. Just these cars alone netted just over £21.3m for the owner.
However, there were some misses on the day, too. A white 1996 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport failed to sell, bidding to £2.2m, some way short of its £2.5m low estimate but exactly on Hagerty’s ‘Good’ Price Guide value. That was probably fair: the car had the odd stone chip, a crack on the bonnet, the panel gaps on the rear quarters needed some adjustment and the original grey interior was also showing all of its age. Similarly, the 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO bid to £3m, just shy of its £3.25m low estimate. Again, the bid was exactly Hagerty’s top ‘concours’ value, although perfectionists may argue it could have done with a few cosmetic improvements to its sills, wheels, interior and rear deck. Finally, bidding on the 1997 Ferrari F50 stalled at £2.8m, short of its £3.25m low estimate, although fair considering Hagerty’s ‘Excellent’ value of £2.8m and given the need for a bit of work to bring the interior up to the quality of the rest of the car.
The rest of the cars in the collection had some knocks and bumps too, but it didn’t put off bidders, and quite right too. The owner is known for his enthusiastic use of his cars, and we applaud him for that; cars like this were meant to be driven and so few are. To make the point, the car that did best (compared to its pre-sale estimate) was a 1984 Lamborghini LP5000S that sold for £477,500, appreciably more than Hagerty’s top value of £321,000.
Bidders may have been taken by the allure of the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ specification and willing to overlook the various signs of age all over the body, rather dirty carburettors and frankly grubby interior that showed all of its 51,800 Km on the odometer.
There were some other notable cars in the auction outside of the Gran Turismo Collection, too. The Ferrari Testarossa Spider has to be one of the most beautiful cars never to reach full production, and a 1990 custom-made example with just 413Km on the clock, one of just a handful produced by Pininfarina, presented like a new car. It rightly sold for a strong £1.461m. Then, there was the draw of the true celebrity: as Hagerty demonstrated in its Power List, a famous owner can make all the difference to a car’s value. A silver 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow once owned by Freddie Mercury with a top estimate of £30,000 sold for an astonishing £286,250, all of which will go to a Ukrainian aid charity. Now that’s a kind of magic.
Hagerty UK Price Guide Editor John Mayhead said “It was undoubtedly one of the most impressive collections of modern classic performance cars ever seen at a UK auction. There was some hesitation from buyers, possibly because these are mostly cars that have been regularly used rather than ‘lock away’ investments, but it could also signal a slight reticence on behalf of UK buyers for the many right-hand drive cars.”