Cheap silverware: the deals of the latest auctions
22 February 2023 3 min read 10 images
It’s incorrect to think of auctions as places with unreachable models. Even the most famous auction houses inevitably propose great deals which, to boot, come with the business card of reputed international experts. In recent weeks, we have published precise data and in-depth analyses on the recent auctions in Arizona and Paris held by RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams and Artcurial. Today, we are going to see what someone like you and me could have bought if we’d shown up after breaking the piggy bank. Just kidding, but only a little: here's a handful of cars for a small(ish) bucket of coins.
1987 Mercedes-Benz 560 SL sold for €44,000 ($47,040)
Let’s start with RM and a pair of Mercedes-Benz that came with an enviable quality-price ratio: the first was a 560SL Roadster from 1987. The colour scheme (white with black interior) wasn’t up there with the greats but it had covered just 40,000 miles since new and came with a hardtop, which alone was worth a few thousand dollars. The market for these cars is growing decisively and we have seen some changing hands for more than $100,000. This was estimated at half that: $50,000-$60,000 and the sale was concluded at just $47,040 (€44,000). And not only that: another Mercedes-Benz 250SE Coupé from 1967 which, according to Spanish documents, once belonged to Burt Reynolds, in a very elegant metallic gold colour with black interior and restored very well in 2013, went for $67,200 (€62,850). I would hazard a fairly educated guess that if the new owner were to prove with certainty that the famous actor was a previous owner, you could add a nice one in front of that figure.
1967 Mercedes-Benz 250 SE Coupe sold for €62,850 ($67,200)
From Bonhams, the 1955 Mistral-Chevrolet Sports Racer ripped my heart out. I would have loved to have taken it home! An authentic racing car that’s eligible for the SCCA Vintage Races, it mounted a 283ci V8 Chevrolet (the same as the Corvette) racing special engine producing 400bhp. Purchased a few years ago in New Zealand and recently meticulously restored by an enthusiast, it was ready to race. The estimate of $90,000-$120,000 was in line with the market. Sold for $62,720 (€58,665) to someone who took home an absolute bargain.
1955 Mistral-Chevrolet Sports Racer sold for €58,665 ($62,720)
Another inexpensive gem from Bonhams. At the age of 45, the Porsche 928, which didn’t appear to interest anyone, is now one of the hottest cars on the market. The GTS versions now fetch somewhere in the region of €150,000 and upwards, Clubsport versions can’t be found for less than double that figure while even the normal S4s go for around €50,000. But an example from 1978 changed hands for... $22,400 (€20,950). It was from the second year of production (which I prefer for its “clean” lines), 5-speed manual gearbox and $50,000 of work, was it really worth $15,000-$25,000?
1979 Porsche 928 sold for €20,950 ($22,400)
Across the pond in Europe, of the 450 lots offered between Bonhams, RM and Artcurial during Rétromobile, 140 came with price estimates below €100,000, so there was considerable choice for enthusiasts.
And let’s start from Bonhams with two lots at opposite ends of the collector’s spectrum. The first was a 1935 Lancia Dilambda Landaulet 4-seater bodied by Boneschi. It is the typical “anti-market” car: a pre-war Lancia, with old-fashioned bodywork and a little-known coachbuilder. But it is the car that allows its owner to move up the collection ladder and enter the big competitions. The final sale price of €51,750 ($48,400) was within its estimate (€50,000-€80,000). Ready for Villa d’Este?
1935 Lancia Dilambda Landaulet 4-Posti sold for €51,750 ($48,400)
On the opposite end, a youngtimer “with a million likes”. The Audi RS4 Avant, already defined as a “future classic”, is already a collector’s item. In 2001, when this example was produced, it had a power output that was close to a Ferrari or a Porsche Turbo, but also came with considerably more usability; this example, spacious, manual transmission, sunroof and 94,000 km on the clock was estimated at €50,000-€70,000. Was the room distracted? Probably, since it went for €46,000 ($49,180).
2001 Audi RS 4 B5 Avant sold for €46,000 ($49,180)
It's wrong to think that RM only has a clientele interested in expensive cars.
The Ferrari 360 Modena is a model with prices that have been on the rise for 12 months now but this red example from 2000 had a peculiarity: a sunroof, which I think you’ll agree is a very unusual optional on Ferrari. Indeed, just 25 of the more than 16,000 units produced came with this accessory. In other words, it’s rarer than a 250 GTO! Curiously, the RM experts did not emphasize this exclusivity and gave it an estimate of €70,000-€90,000. Sold for €80,500 ($86,000), practically without any premium over a normal model, it’s certainly going to make its new owner happy.
2000 Ferrari 360 Modena "Sunroof" sold for €80,500 ($86,000)
Artcurial brought a massive assortment of delights to tempt those who’d raided the piggy bank. I would have taken home a 1983 Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130TC. With its twin-shaft 1600cc engine designed to give the most high-performance Alfa Romeos a hard time and more powerful than Golf GTI and Peugeot 205 GTI. Rare, very well maintained and also prepared to compete in Group 1, it failed to reach its estimate of €25,000-€40,000 and changed hands for €19,072 ($20,400).
1983 Fiat Ritmo Abarth 130 TC sold for €19,072 ($20,400)
For some time, Artcurial has been offering cars from the Renault historical collection: this year it proposed a 1992 Renault 25 V6 Turbo Baccara with just 3,780 km on the clock, used by the Renault Management and meticulously maintained, as well as a 1981 Renault 4 four-wheel drive GTL Sinpar, with just 12,565 km to its credit. 1992 Renault 25 V6 Turbo Baccara sold for €69,600 ($74,400)
The estimates were similar: €15,000-€25,000 for the flagship model, €20,000-€30,000 for the small 4x4. The result, however, was reversed: €26,224 ($28,035) for the Renault 4, and after a fierce battle, €69,600 ($74,400) for the Renault 25! 1981 Renault 4 GTL Sinpar 4x4 sold for €26,224 ($28,035)