Auction insider: Richard Hudson-Evans

£26,000 for barnfind Land Rover! But why did 54 classics fail to sell at Brightwell's £1m end-of-season UK sale?

Auction insider: Richard Hudson-Evans

Although there were no headturning high-value headliners at the final Brightwells collector vehicle sale of the season – undoubtedly the company's most ambitious season yet with sales at both the Leominster HQ and Bicester Heritage – there were several interestingly-strong prices.

A lovely 1936 VSCC-dated Riley Special did perform very strongly. It had started life as a Kestrel Saloon but had lost its bodywork and been transformed by marque magician Keith Pointing into an aluminium-bodied, 1½-litre powered, street-legal historic that had served its vendor well during various competition sorties to France. On a Wednesday afternoon in Leominster, near the Welsh Border, competitive bidding saw the auctioneers’ £45,000-50,000 estimate quickly overtaken until the gavel fell at £65,000 and a new guardian had paid £71,500 with premium.

The day’s prices were topped however by an always-UK resident 1963 Jaguar E-type S1 3.8 Roadster that had lost its original engine during a 54-year journey, but had been restored by the pro-mechanic vendor, who had swopped the Neolithic Moss gearbox for more user-friendly all-synchro transmission and upgraded the brakes with Coopercraft calipers. With expired MoT and in need of remedial work, the most iconic of all British classics still pulled £73,150, which was £18,150 more than the top estimate.

A 3.8 E-type motor could also be found beneath the bonnet of a Saudi Prince-abused 1960 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk1 BT7 that, so the back-story goes, had been discovered languishing in the desert minus BMC engine. The subject of an older restoration and with expired MoT, the unusual Healey-Jaguar had been consigned by the widow of the deceased owner and sold for £40,700, again, over £15,000 more than had been sought.

An only just below estimate £57,200 was forthcoming for a 1999 Ferrari 456M (‘M’ for Modificata) GTA (‘A’ for auto) with model-appropriate ‘GTA’ registration and a Dunhill Edition of the Aston Martin DB7 that was first played by ex-Arsenal and TV pundit Ian Wright in 1999 scored the required £35,200.

During the Modern Classics section, a 63,900-mile 2006 Aston Martin Vantage with six-speed manual change found a within-estimate band £27,500. A one-owner 2000 Subaru Impreza ‘Prodrive’ P1 with 32 service stamps confirming 70,000 mileage went for an appreciating £23,100, over £6000 more than top estimate.

The superstar turn among the projects exhibits was a really early 1949 Land Rover S1 80 1.6, a one-family-owned since new in 1949 relic with pathetic headlamps behind the grille, which had worked on an estate near Broadway for decades apart from a completing a very long return journey to Germany in the 1960s. Barn-stored since 1997, the always agricultural, but now trendy primitive was auctioned ‘Without Reserve’ for an extraordinarily bullish £26,070! To totally restore or sensitively revive without excessive vandalism is the dilemma that buyers of such farmyard finds have to confront and resolve.

As for the rest of the sale, 17 vehicles being auctioned ‘Without Reserve’ certainly helped the overnight stats, which showed that although there were buyers for just 77 or 59% of the 131 cars in the catalogue, they had spent £1,051,250 with premium, just before Christmas too. Some of the 54 cars – 41% of the total – that did not sell on the day may well change keepers in post-sale deals.

As I send this blog, CCA viewing is just about to open at the Warwickshire Event Centre beside the Fosse Way near Leamington Spa, where 160 ‘Everyman Classics’ go under the hammer from 11am Saturday 2 December – and also on Saturday, and for 30 higher value collectibles, the Bonhams Bond Street Sale takes place from 2.30pm in their New Bond Street salerooms.

Only Doctor Who can be in two places at once, it seems, though I shall do my earthy best to bring you some market commentary on what sells for what and why at both locations on Autoclassics.com.