Automobiles of London 2010 Auction Report – RM Auctions

Report by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

1964 Aston Martin DB5 James BondRM Auctions held its fourth annual Automobiles of London auction on October 27th, 2010 at Battersea Evolution in London, with the sale headlined by the James Bond movie Aston Martin DB5. It sold on just two bids for £2,600,000 hammer, £2,912,000 with RM’s London commission of 12%, a cool $4,612,317.

RM promoted the Aston as ‘The Most Famous Car in the World’, fame largely attributable to the ambitious, extensive and very creative campaign RM mounted to remind later generations of the Aston’s past glories. It traveled the world on a road show as elaborate as any put on by Government Motors to tout its coming IPO. The RM Graphics and Web departments outdid themselves with a special ‘dossier’ that accompanied the catalog and an interactive website presentation that allows visitors to activate the Aston’s various offensive and defensive features (but not, unfortunately, the famed ejection seat.) The website is still up, operating and worth a visit for a few moments’ diversion.

The effect was apparent when the bidding opened at £2.5 million and was promptly bumped to £2.6 by eventual buyer Harry Yeaggy. The room went pretty silent. Max Girardo fished for further bids. RM’s ring crew worked the crowd. The phone bank chattered away. All to no effect. Max eventually realized the pool was empty, announced the car for sale and counted it down.

Even that dramatic occasion may not have been the most important event of the sale, however, because on preview day RM announced it will hold an auction at next year’s Concorso d’Eleganza at Ville d’Este on May 22, 2011, a date that is planned to alternate with an RM sale in Monaco on the even-numbered years coinciding with the Grand Prix Historique.

Implicit in the announcement is the end of RM’s sale at Ferrari in Maranello, something that was confirmed by RM in answer to an inquiry. The Maranello sales were crucial to RM’s expansion into Europe, as well as to establishing the credibility and acceptability of Ferrari’s Classiche restoration shop and certifications. Although it has served its purpose it placed restraints on RM’s dealings in Ferraris and impinged upon Ferrari’s Formula One program in the middle of the season. It was, though, an unprecedented opportunity to visit Maranello with unparalleled access to Ferrari and will be missed.

These developments, and the dossier of important, valuable, significant, desirable cars (along with a few dogs and cats) assembled for RM’s London sale highlights just how important the U.K. and European venues have become for RM Auctions. For many years the traffic was all in the other direction as British-based auction companies migrated to the U.S. in search of inventory and buyers. It took determination, skill, a top-notch staff and years of groundwork to establish its credibility, relationships and financial resources for RM to reverse the flow, but it quickly established itself as a major player on the Continent and in the U.K. and continues to solidify that position.

London 2010 mirrors that success and stature, a high profile auction that has become one of the annual auction calendar’s most important events in only four years.

RM Auctions
Cars Offered / Cars Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est
Sold > High Est
Average Sale
Total Sales
Exchange Rate
104 / 90
84 / 69
100 / 69
84 / 77

Automobiles of London 2010 Auction Report – RM Auctions (listed by lot number)
(See Reference – Auctions Explained, A Note on Conditions and Character).

1979 DeTomaso Pantera Coupe Group 3
Lot # 101 1979 DeTomaso Pantera Coupe Group 3, Body by Ghia; S/N 09139; Black/White leather; Estimate $63,356 - $79,195; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $71,276 plus commission of 12.00%; Final Price $79,829 – 400+hp, 351 cubic inch V-8, Group 4 flares and air dam. Just a used car with a repaint. No Reserve. This is very impressive money for a Pantera, even a late Group 3, and particularly for a less than impressively presented Pantera.
1954 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT 4th Series Coupe
Lot # 102 1954 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT 4th Series Coupe, Body by Pinin Farina; S/N 3271; Engine # 3874; Dark Green/??; Estimate $79,195 - $95,034; Competition restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $74,443 plus commission of 12.00%; Final Price $83,377 – RHD. 2,451cc/118hp V-6. No bumpers installed (but included), fog lights, Bilstein shocks, Halda Tripmaster, clock, fire extinguisher. Prepared for historic tours and rallies with good paint, brightwork and interior. Described as working correctly. Modestly priced and a good value in both pounds and dollars, a Ferrari and Maserati challenger prepared to modern historic competition standards that promises exceptional satisfaction on the road. Well bought in pounds and dollars.
1963 Jaguar Mk II by Vicarage
Lot # 103 1963 Jaguar Mk II by Vicarage; S/N 222371BW; Estimate $79,195 - $95,034; Not evaluated; Hammered Sold at $58,604 plus commission of 12.00%; Final Price $65,637
1974 Ferrari 365 GT4 BB
Lot # 104 1974 Ferrari 365 GT4 BB, Body by Pininfarina; S/N F102AB18267; Engine # F102A000000261; Dark Blue (Blue Chiaro), Black rockers/Beige leather; Estimate $118,793 - $150,471; Unrestored original, 3+ condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $110,873 – RHD. P/W, A/C, 8-track stereo, updated with wider rear wheels (originals included.) Known history from new, engine rebuilt in 1995, comes with tools, parts catalog, owner's manual and all records from new. Recent cam belt change. Fully documented from new, original throughout and attractively presented but showing factory erratic fit and finish in nearly new condition. This is the forgotten Ferrari supercar, overlooked by collectors and undervalued, which is what this high bid reflects.
1973 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet Conversion
Lot # 105 1973 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman Landaulet Conversion; S/N 10001412002035; Black/Cream leather; Estimate $237,585 - $316,780; Modified restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $253,424 plus commission of 12.00%; Final Price $283,835 – Whitewall tires, flag staffs, A/C and all the accoutrements of sybaritic luxury. Converted in the UK by Crayford in the early 80's and showing only limited age and use. Offered by The Auction in Las Vegas in 1999 where it no-saled at $90,000 with 16,384 miles on the odometer and sold here today for a fraction of what a Mercedes-built Landaulet would bring. It will look, feel and impress no differently from a Sindelfingen-built Landaulet and is a good buy at this price for someone who wants the look, feel and impression.
1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante 'Prince of Wales'
Lot # 106 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante 'Prince of Wales'; S/N SCFCV81C2KTR15733; Engine # V/580/5733/X; Graphite Grey/Red leather; Estimate $197,988 - $245,505; Unrestored original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $285,102 plus commission of 12.00%; Final Price $319,314 – RHD. 5-speed, A/C, 3.06 axle, alloy wheels, Blaupunkt Toronto cassette stereo. 14,385 miles from new. A Vantage without the flares, spoilers and air dam, one of 25 built. Never restored and very attractive. The bidders rewarded this car, the first of many Aston Martins to cross the RM London auction block today, with a premium price reflecting its refined appearance, exceptional performance, low mileage and rarity. It lacks nothing and will be a rewarding car to own and drive, even at this way over-estimate price.
1929 Chrysler Imperial L80 Convertible Coupe
Lot # 107 1929 Chrysler Imperial L80 Convertible Coupe, Body by Locke; S/N RR143P; Engine # L5098; Cream, Black fenders/Black; Cream cloth top; Estimate $79,195 - $110,873; Modified restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $51,477 plus commission of 12.00%; Final Price $57,654 – RHD. Black wire wheels, blackwall tires, hydraulic brakes, rumble seat, dual rear spares. Freshly restored for the current Peking-Paris rally but not used. Heavy duty springs, 12 volt electrical system. 3.77 rear axle, overdrive, 15’ wheels. Weak paint, quickly reupholstered interior, sloppy top, sloppy panel fits. One of only 4 known survivors in this body style of 142 built. Includes the original wood spoke wheels. This is a car built for something like Peking-Paris and not the show field. While the cosmetics are disappointing the mechanics seem to have been intelligently dealt with. It brought a price that reflected its presentation and not the potential driving experience, a price that is probably less than it would cost to prepare it, even if the Chrysler were free. Rugged American cars of this era are the secrets of intelligent long distance historic rallies, something undervalued in this Chrysler's result.

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Show Comments (7)

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  1. As thorough of an auction report as I’ve ever seen. Took me quite a few minutes to read, and that typically doesn’t happen on the net. Excellent coverage of this highly successful sale.

  2. Michael,
    You have no idea how pleased I am to read your comment.

    I try to make these reports not only informative — in a quantitative sense — but also enjoyable in a qualitative sense. My goal is to achieve exactly what happened to you: suck you in with photos, descriptions and written imagery and get you to feel the sale and the ebb and flow of the market.



  3. Thank you, I echo what Michael Martin says, I found as much to read in this as any classic car magazine. The history of some of the cars fascinating and the reasons given for the sale or lack of very incisive. On the whole the cars seemed overvalued by the austioneer but as you say one or two bargins still to be had. Well done

  4. Throughly enjoyed this knowledgeable and enthusiastic description. The writing displayed a reverence for the English language, as rare these days as some of the cars auctioned.

  5. Excellent report and price analysis. Interesting to see the DB2/3s – so lovely. Remarkable price (it seems to me) for the black Series III E-type, particularly when compared to the Islero.

  6. Am I reading something wrong here, or does it seems that the classic Bentleys are settling in price, even declining. If so, is there a reason for this?