JANUARY SALES REVIEWED by Richard Hudson-Evans
After crunching the numbers from the 77 UK sales of 4838 classics recorded by Classic Auction Review in 2020, the collector vehicle auction sector has a new market leader, Silverstone Auctions, who grossed £33,128,250 in car sales and, together with their CCA subsidiary, whose clients spent another £8,425,759 on more ‘Everyman’ fare, sold a chart-topping 856 cars for a premium-inclusive £41,553,009.
Last year, when 72 UK sales of 5,029 classics were reviewed on C.A.R., Bonhams in London, and their then new MPH start-up at Bicester Heritage, led the stats with combined 2019 sales of 467 cars for £43,590,000. Silverstone with CCA were second with reviewed sales of 814 classics for £29,800,000, Historics sale of 437 cars for £12,950,000 put them in third place and, after we reported on their sale of 576 cars for £12,310,000, H&H were fourth.
During the 2020 pandemic revolution however, which has not only changed High Streets and emptied office blocks forever, but has seen traditional auctions survive and thrive by promoting their sales on-line and staging them as internet events, there has been seismic change in the sector.
For following the last hurrah of the trio of Retromobile week sales in Paris last February, and Race Retro with physical Silverstone Auctions sales at Stoneleigh Park, and thanks to guidelines and then three lockdowns, no more event-themed auctions could be held on the EU mainland or in Brexit Britain for the rest of the year.
The Goodwood Members Meeting and Revival could not be run at the Goodwood circuit or Goodwood House, and nor could the traditional Bonhams auctions take place on-site. The Silverstone Classic and auction could not go ahead at the circuit either and nor could the Bonhams auction at a cancelled Beaulieu International Autojumble. While although a late season Goodwood Speedweek event replaced the earlier Revival, it was a 'For TV production Only' with no paying punters from the real world lining the circuit and Bonhams auction tent, and there were no accessible Practical Classics or Classic Motor Show events or supporting auctions held at the NEC in 2020.
Auction goalposts were constantly moved during the 2020 season
Having adapted well - and quickly - to enforced and constantly changing change however, Silverstone Auctions and their CCA satellite brand became the UK collector vehicle auction market leaders with their over £41.5m result, a £21.3m lead over Bonhams and MPH, who sold 410 cars for £20,088,000, third placed Historics with their C.A.R reviewed sale of 422 cars before 'live' audience for a house best ever £18,950,226, £6,212,678 more than Bonhams, who were in fourth place without MPH in 2020,
The most cars consigned for transparently conducted UK-located auctions reviewed on C.A.R. during 2020 were the 1108 lots catalogued by the Silverstone Auctions Group, including CCA, only just in front of the 1105 classics entered for ACA sales.though. Bonhams with MPH meanwhile consigned 760 in 2020, H&H 757, Historics 721 and Brightwells 677.
By volume, Silverstone with CCA commanded 17.7% of the 2020 UK auction market reviewed, 16.6% in 2019. ACA 17.5% by car lot in 2020, 16.8% in 2019. The Market’s share was 11.6% in 2020, their first year reviewed, and Historics an appreciated 11.5%, compared to 8.89% in 2019. Brightwells market share was 11.3% by volume in 2020, 13.13% in 2019, and Bonhams with MPH, 8.5% in 2020, 9.51% in 2019.
Whereas by value, the auction market for classic cars in the UK totalled £155,684,730 for the sales reviewed on this website, £22,840,000 more than in 2019, which was £20,370,000 less than in 2018, when the sales total was £153,210,000, much the same as in 2020. Lest we forget, in booming 2017, £166,500,000 was spent on classic cars at the UK sales reviewed, £10,820,000 or 7% more than in 2020.
Silverstone with CCA sold 26.7% of the £155.68m 2020 UK auction market, with one Gooding sale accounting for 21.9% by value, Bonhams with MPH 12.9%, Historics 12.2%, The Market 6.8%, H&H 4.9%, ACA 4.8% and Brightwells 3.1%.
While the average price paid for cars in the sales monitored amounted to £32,173 in 2020, 19% or £5,135 more than was spent at auction in 2019 and much the same as the 2019 UK auction average of £33,214.
The average price paid for a car bought at Gooding was a quite extraordinary £2,432,064, the Bonhams average per car £131,315, RM Sotheby’s £112,512 at one sale, Silverstone £78,698, Historics £34,581, Bonhams MPH £23,519, Richard Edmonds £21,562, Silverstone CCA £19,485, The Market £18,942 and H&H £18,197.