Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market

  • 11 October 2023
  • 3 min read
  • 9 images
Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market image

Photo credit: Bonhams

Cliff Goodall’s view

If I’m honest, Belgium for me now means only Zoute. The Concours d’Elegance event alone in the popular seaside resort of Knokke-Heist is well worth the trip, to which must be added the tour and a myriad of small meet-ups around the city, and importantly, the Bonhams auction, which was a real success.

Naturally, auctions are my specialty, and each year I’ve seen the event grow with results mirroring predictions: 79 cars sold (82.29%) and €26,757,793 in takings, marking a growth of 14.49% in lots and 14.48% in value. The average price, at €338,738, was practically the same as in 2022.

Bonhams Zoute, 8th October 2023 Bonhams Zoute, 8th October 2023 With these figures, what else could be the top lot if not a Ferrari? This was the 250 GT Tour de France, which its owner, Plinio Haas, used in competition, including the famous Ferrari Shell Historic, replacing the original engine. In 2013, the car was restored, regained its original engine, and received Ferrari Classiche certification. Interestingly, the car also changed colour, this time repainted in Oro Chiaro (Light Gold) and the interior re-trimmed in maroon leather, which, although not original, certainly adds to its appeal. The estimate was €5,000,000 to €7,000,000, not much for a Tour de France, but the market for 1950s supercars has been somewhat cautious lately, and the final price of €4,830,000 is probably correct.

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 11959 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Tour de France sold for €4,830,000 ($5,084,250)

Expanding our perspective, it’s clear that the market for cars priced in the millions of euros is currently a bit sluggish.

Take these two examples for instance. First up is a 2005 Porsche Carrera GT. Colour, specs, and mileage are key factors for cars like these. This particular Carrera GT was silver with a brown interior, had seen three owners, and was offered with 21,400 km on the clock. Initially estimated between €850,000 and €1,100,000, it was sold for €908,500. This year, eight out of eleven listed cars in this price range were sold, all exceeding one million euros. However, it’s worth noting that the average price in a year has dropped by 10%.

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 22005 Porsche Carrera GT sold for €908,500 (€956,325)

Another example was the 1994 Bugatti EB110 GT, this time presented in Indian Red with grey leather interior and 7,102 km under its belt. This model has also seen significant action over the last four years but has started to pull back. In 2019, it was valued between €650,000 and €700,000, but between 2021 and 2022, none have sold for less than €1,600,000, even those with 20,000 km. This particular Bugatti from Bonhams came with an estimate of €800,000 to €1,200,000, which, considering past prices, seemed quite low. However, it was sold for €1,150,000, confirming that the market landscape has indeed changed.

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 31994 Bugatti EB110 GT sold for €1,150,000 ($1,210,535)

The most vibrant market has proven to be the lower end. A striking case is the 1973 BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile. This first-series example, in Chamonix White and restored a few years ago, had an ambitious estimate of €350,000 to €450,000. However, the market deemed it fair, and it changed hands for €368,000. This makes it the second most expensive Batmobile ever sold.

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 41973 BMW 3.0 CSL Batmobile sold for €368,000 ($387,370)

Another surprise came from a 1959 Fiat 500 Jolly Beach Car. While everyone knows that the Jolly was designed by Gianni Agnelli for use as a tender on his yacht, the example offered by Bonhams had an even more exclusive life. It was once kept aboard the yacht ‘Odysseia’ in St Tropez and Monaco. Originally built in 1906 and used during WWI and WWII by the British Royal Navy, the yacht would become world famous when Richard Burton bought it for Elizabeth Taylor in 1967. Purchased by the seller in 1983 and restored in 2019 with 6,930 km from new, it had an estimate of €80,000 to €120,000. However, a buyer must have found it perfect for their new yacht and paid €155,250, setting a new record.

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 51959 Fiat 500 Jolly Beach Car sold for €155,250 ($163,425)

A phenomenal result for a 1967 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Pagoda. No, you read that right, it was indeed a 1967 500SL. This car started life as a 230SL but was transformed by the experts at Mechatronik with a 5.0 V8 engine pumping out 320hp. And that’s not all: it featured a 5-speed automatic transmission, ABS, ASR, and a long list of electronic gadgets. This work alone cost approximately €550,000! The estimate of €300,000 to €400,000 reflected the fact that these costly modifications don’t pay for themselves. Nevertheless, it was sold for €506,000, allowing the seller to (almost completely) recoup their investment

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 61967 Mercedes-Benz Pagoda M-SL 500 by Mechatronik sold for €506,000 ($532,635)

And my favourite car? Of English origins with an Italian body, from the year 2004, racing green with soft white leather interior. Summer may be over, but the Aston Martin DB AR1 Zagato Roadster remains a beautiful object to put in the garage. This was the 46th of 99 produced, and it was originally sold new in Hamburg. The owner only drove it 46,000 km (in almost twenty years) before offering it at auction. It failed to meet its estimate of €170,000 to €220,000, and the seller settled for €158,700.

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 72004 Aston Martin DB AR1 Zagato sold for €158,700 ($167,000)

Do you think that was too much? Consider that just four lots earlier, the last 2002 BMW Z3M Coupé built (with 33,000 km on the clock and one owner from new) set a new world record at €149,500…

Zoute: Bonhams celebrates even in a cautious market - 82002 BMW Z3M Coupé sold for €149,500 ($157,370)