In a difficult year where COVID-19 was the unwanted star of attraction, many classic auction houses were forced into an ‘online only’ corner with very few taking place in person.
Whilst the industry was seriously challenged in 2020, the classic car market proved it still has flexibility, strength and depth with sales extremely buoyant across the board and even high-value lots either reaching or exceeding their estimates.
These are just some of the most expensive and stand-out sales recorded in a ‘pandemic year’ that witnessed some extraordinary sales including the most expensive Renault ever at an eye-watering £ 2,454,210, a trio of Alfa’s reaching £11,060,458, Bugatti Type 59 Sports achieving no less than £9,535,000 in one of the rare ‘attended’ sales, a beautiful Bugatti Type 57S Atalante which stole the show at Hampton Court Palace in the ‘Passion of a Lifetime sale’ selling for £7,855,000 and even a 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia muscling in on the action and selling for £1,524,549.
11 Extraordinary Auction Lots
Scroll tabs left and right on mobile
It’s not always about numbers as this 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic by Ghia proved. The futuristic classic undoubtedly became one of the biggest surprises of the year and was built at a time when the Italian marque was more interested in producing vehicles for the man in the street and not the ‘well healed’ of society.
The automotive world was given a rude awakening when Fiat introduced the V8 powered sports car which is one of only 15 Ghia Supersonics built on the 8V chassis and bodied to Giovanni Savonuzzi’s stunning Jet Age design, typically known as the ‘Supersonic’.
The auctioneer’s gavel finally settled on a staggering £1,524,549 at RM Sotheby’s Elkhart Sale in October this year.
Image courtesy RM Sotheby’s
The BMW 507 has never been afraid of the auction limelight and this one is no different, selling for £1,546,969. One of only 252 Series I and II cars built, the ‘Federweiss’ (white) 1959 507 German Roadster was the top earner at Bonhams Zoute Sale and even outsold a 2018 Ford GT Coupé by over a million euros.
So popular was the svelte roadster, only the rich and famous could dig deep enough to afford such automotive luxury, with iconic names such as Elvis Presley, movie stars Ursula Andress and Alain Delon, skiing champion Toni Sailer, Prince Rainer of Monaco, and the Aga Khan all being proud custodians at one time or another.
Only 400 produced, the Enzo carries the mantle of Maranello’s defining millennial hypercar on its wide shoulders with a genetic link between the sensuous F50 and the hybrid LaFerrari.
The attractive V12 Italian powerhouse always attracts the big hitters and this one had previously only seen two California-based collector owners from new and also boasted the very rare red 3D fabric seat inserts among other essential integrity-based additions.
With only 1250 miles recorded on its lazy odometer, the £1,972,946 ticket was easily reached at RM Sotheby’s ‘Driving into Summer’ sale.
Who’d have thought a Renault would crash the Ferrari Enzo party…
First discovered by James Melton, a famous opera singer in Ridgefield, Connecticut in 1946, this amazingly rare 1907 Renault Type AI 35/45HP Vanderbilt Racer has survived in exquisite condition and was always going to attract a certain type of collector.
Having been owned by a certain William Spear Jr who is best known for his multiple assaults on the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Briggs Cunningham’s top racing driver, the Renault was the star attraction at Bonhams Amelia Island Auction in March and reached an incredible selling price of £2,499,375.
Lamborghini only constructed 150 examples of the P400 SV so these things always attract six-figure sums – in this case, a hefty £3,207,000 at Goodings ‘Passion of a Lifetime’ sale.
This particular car was completed in May 1971 and dressed in brilliant Oro Metallizzato (Gold Metallic); the SV remained in the hands of its original owner for well over a decade. Often these examples come to auction with low mileage but this one has been no ‘trailer queen’ and was ‘driven’ across UK and Europe including participating in the Tour Auto.
This incredible Aston Martin DB3S is one of only three Almond Green customer cars that were ordered for the Kangaroo Stable – the Australian racing team led by David McKay and Tony Gaze.
Given it was their lead car and campaigned throughout Europe, England, and New Zealand during 1955 and 1956, with the most notable result being a 2nd Overall finish at the 12 Hours of Hyères, its no surprise the Aston was heavily bid for, achieving £3,011,000.
Whilst there were only 15 lots at the ‘Passion of a Lifetime’ sale at Hampton Court Palace, it was undoubtedly the auction calendar highlight of 2020.
The 1928 Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix single-handedly achieved £3,935,000 and made up one-third of an incredible Bugatti trio, that went on to accumulate £21,325,000 in total sales. The definitive Type 35 Bugatti Grand Prix is considered by many to be the finest racing car of its period and one of the most enduring automotive designs of all time.
The car has been carefully preserved by three Belgian collectors over the past six decades and remains in a wonderfully undisturbed condition, retaining its original bodywork and serial-numbered components. An amazing machine up close…
Another rare and exquisite Bugatti Type 55 Roadster from the Dean Edmonds estate spearheaded the Bonhams Amelia Island sale just before lockdown across the pond and hit the dizzy heights of £5,228,774.
The car had been in Edmonds’ collection for over 30 years since he acquired it at auction and set a world record for a Bugatti sale in 1985. Under Edmonds’ stewardship, the Type 55 won 1st in Class at Pebble Beach and successfully completed the Mille Miglia.
Dean Edmonds, July 1986:
“I have waited for this particular car for 30 years so that a life-long ambition was realized at Armoury House last December”
Many people consider the Type 55 with the Jean Bugatti bodywork the most beautiful sports car ever built, and I agree as evidenced by the fact that I fell in love with this particular car about 40 years ago and followed it through a string of owners”.
This incredible 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante displays everything the marque is famous for and is one of only 17 examples originally fashioned with Jean Bugatti’s sensational Atalante coachwork.
Delivered to Earl Howe, the legendary racing driver and president of the Bugatti Owners’ Club (BOC), this Bugatti boasts a history and provenance like no other which meant one thing only as it went under the auctioneer’s gavel – £7,855,000. Another remarkable classic car in the ‘flesh’.
Wearing ‘122’ and the final third of the ‘Passion of a Lifetime trio at Hampton Court Palace, this ultimate 1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports turned heads like no other and had similar repercussions later at auction with a £9,535,000 sale price realised in front of a bustling crowd.
Primarily driven by René Dreyfus, it achieved impressive results including 3rd Place at the Monaco Grand Prix and an outright win at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa.
The car has been under the custodianship of just four subsequent owners and is in time-warp condition – arguably the most important, original, and coveted of all competition Bugattis.
Endlessly fascinating, historic, and romantic, this singular Type 59 personifies the magic and entrapment of the Bugatti marque, Le Pur-Sang des Automobiles.
Lastly, RM Sotheby’s celebrated a historic evening with the sale of the renowned trio of Alfa Romeo Berlina Aerodinamica Tecnica concept cars, B.A.T. 5, 7 and 9d, which sold for a staggering for £11,090,351 ($14,840,000) during their Contemporary Art Evening Auction, setting a new record for the most valuable post-war Alfa Romeo sold as a single lot at auction and one of the most valuable of any Alfa Romeo ever sold.
Ian Kelleher, Chief Marketing Officer, RM Sotheby’s, said:
“The sale of the B.A.T. concept cars during Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening Sale represents the second time RM Sotheby’s has offered a motor car as part of a Sotheby’s art sale—the first time being when we sold the Michael Schumacher Ferrari F2001 Formula 1 race car in 2017. No other organization in the world has a client base as far-reaching as Sotheby’s and since we have worked so closely and successfully with them in the past, working with them again on the sale of the B.A.T. trio made perfect sense. Last evening’s Contemporary Art Evening Auction was a perfectly executed example of cross-category collaboration by the market leaders in both cars and fine arts and served as further evidence of RM Sotheby’s expertise and leadership in the market for bringing important automobiles to auction.”
You may also like:
Isdera Commendatore 112i Joins Lamborghini Collection In Paris Sale