Classic car restoration projects making strong prices in 2018

Many of the prices paid for projects are extraordinary votes of confidence in the long-term future of fossil-fuelled classics, says our resident market analyst

Projects have been performing strongly at many of the UK’s season-opening auctions.

A trio of unrestored classics took all three podium spots at ACA in King’s Lynn in January, when an authentic right-hand-drive 1964 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII that had been parked up since 1972 was auctioned without reserve for £39,220, with only 6 percent premium. That’s retail money for a running, MoT’ed MkI.

At what has been the best-attended sale on the provincial circuit so far this year in Brexiting Britain, a 1971 UK-supplied Aston Martin DBS V8 manual that had been recently repatriated from Japan in need of full revival achieved a results-topping £69,960 including premium. Also much viewed in Norfolk was a rust-spotted, although complete, 1968 Jensen FF Series 1 with one registered ownership. Emerging from a container where it had slept for over 30 years, the 4x4 project was keenly contested until the winner took it on for £43,460 – more than double the estimate.

The fact that brave souls are investing in projects such as these has to be one powerful vote of confidence in the vehicles’ long-term future – indeed, in all collector models fed by fossil fuel. Furthermore, the catalogues quickly sold out, more enthusiasts registered to bid for lots than ever before at the East Anglia drive-through and, by the end of Saturday-afternoon shopping, buyers had spent over £1.5m on more than 90 percent of the cars and projects on offer.

At Shepton Mallet in Somerset, meanwhile, a home-market 1951 Jaguar XK120 Roadster with some Wiscombe history sold for a price-leading £74,800. Another project featured on the Charterhouse catalogue cover, however; an aluminium-bodied 1953 Allard Palm Beach MkI. Its restoration with a Capri 3-litre V6 in place of the 1956 factory-upgraded Zephyr Six had stalled, and the ingredients had been temptingly laid out in the showground hall like a giant jigsaw puzzle. A puzzle-solver was prepared to pay £9350 to take up the challenge.

An immediate post-war Morgan four-wheeler had also last run in the late 1970s, but its Standard 1267cc OHV engine was at least still turning freely when the 1947 4/4 was rescued here for £8800. Whilst likely to be uneconomic at any price, an incomplete Triumph Stag manual with Rover V8, and a 1957 Singer Gazelle S1 convertible with paint stripped and interior removed, were trailered away for £2420 and £1100 respectively. A 1972 LA-cruised and now engine-less Porsche 914 rolling chassis with potential for conversion to a 914/6 cost £3190 in the West Country, where 75 percent of lots offered sold, for a total of £195,173.

‘In component form’ would certainly not over-describe a claimed ‘all matching numbers, 98 percent complete’ 1963 Jaguar E-type Series 1 3.8 Roadster that had been loaded into a race shuttle in de-constructed form for a run across the Barons block at Sandown Park. Stored for over 20 years, it had returned home from foreign parts with NOVA to sell for a result-dominating £56,650 with premium. That was over £27,000 more than a 1991 TVR 450 SEAC convertible in concours condition, or any of the other ready-to-rock 39 classics sold.

The most recent ‘barn find’ to excite interest and bids from potential new project managers was a 1972 Lamborghini Espada that had travelled nowhere since being parked in a garage in 1986. With a 3.9 V12 that was said to still turn over by hand, the Series 2 four-seater GT – penned by Marcello Gandini of Bertone, and one of just 58 produced in right-hand drive with power steering and air-con – had done only a warranted 31,607 miles before going to sleep.

The large audience who shook off the snow to make the journey to the Ascot grandstand were very wide awake, though, when Historics hammered away the dusty Italian for £55,000. Vroom, vroom – eventually!

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