You’ve been sitting at home isolated, angry, depressed, fearful wondering when is this going to end? When will real classic car auctions come back? Will F1 really start again on July 3, in Austria? Will the 25th annual historic Leyburn Sprints be up and running on August 22?
I know you’ve been doing it tough. Some of you have had to move from Premium 98 to Unleaded 91. Seriously, I’d stop feeding the kids before I did that.
But friends and readers we’re here to answer the big questions, not trivial ones: where is Kim Jong-un? What disinfectant should I be injecting? How do I get an ultraviolet light down my throat or in other entry points to the body? Do we comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2018? Don’t worry, we’ll be answering those questions and more n today’s special too-much- CV-19-is-barely-enough issue.
First up, next Friday we test the pandemic market for modern American with Barrett-Jackson’s online auction direct from Scottsdale, Arizona where the USA’s richest and oldest live. And the market needs testing. For the last year collectable classic car values have been flat. So flat that our favourite auction house, Coys of Kensington, have gone into administration. Hopefully Coys can come back to celebrate their 101st birthday next year.
Now like your WART crew, Coys have had a colourful and chequered history since being founded by a fighter ace in the first big one. Private Coy of the Royal Flying Corp had been flying over battlefields and saw the troops in tanks and trucks and realised the horse had had its day (much like electric cars, motor bikes and e-sports today). The big problem with Coy’s insight was to own a horseless carriage you needed to have a steady supply of petrol. At that time, you sent your chauffeur to the chemist shop to buy a tank full. Canny old Coy bought some old air force fuel trucks and started the first petrol stations.
He set up business in Queen’s Gate Mews where Coys remained for 87 years. Of course, the Mews is handy to Buck Palace, the house where Winnie C lived and died and just down the road from Slick Willie’s Skate Shop where Betty Windsor and some of the fam get their inline skates on for a few laps of Hyde Park. This is how it should be. Winnie and the Royal fam were customers at Coy’s servo at the time. Up till this month Coys’ biggest brush with death was in January 2004 when the company, with debts of $3.2m owed to 33 creditors, went belly up. Many of the creditors had put their cars up for an auction in December 2003, but strangely enough, their classics were sold but the money never made its way to the former owners’ skyrockets. Naturally, for obvious reasons, there were a few name changes during the shakier times. From 1997 the company was Coys of Kensington (Sales) Limited but in December 2002 changed into Motoring Marketing Limited, then in January 2003 to Coys of Kensington Sales Limited, then two days before ceasing trading it changed back to Motoring Marketing Limited.
Earlier this year classic car lover and billionaire (and don’t all those words have to go together), racer Andy Pohl, 55, of Marburg, Germany, took Coys to the High Court claiming that he paid $3.2m for a Porker 911 Carrera RS 2.7 touring coupe and it wasn’t as represented. The auction house had said it was in pristine original condition, but Andy, who owns and runs one of Germany’s biggest insurance and funds management businesses, said when the Porker turned up at his joint it had been rebuilt, fitted with inauthentic parts and was unsafe to drive. In the pre-owned trade they would call Mr Pohl a wood duck but call the auction house worse.
Back to Barrett Jackson, where 75 mainly latish American muscle cars are up for grabs, along with 250 pieces of automobilia which are mainly oil cans. Two (cars) to look at include a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429 in Candy Apple Red that was one of the first 150 built, and a custom 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Split-Window Coupe built by Jeff Hayes Customs and powered by a GM LS3 540hp with a Hot Cam engine.
A week later RM Sothebys will test the pandemic market for modern Italians with an online offering including a Classiche-certified 1995 Fezzer F50, the second of 349 built to celebrate Enzo’s 50th anniversary as a brand. Powered by a 400kw 4.7-litre normally aspirated V-12 engine, it’s yours for around $4m. Remember, 95 per cent of Italian cars are still on the road … the other 5 per cent did make it back to their driveways.
For me the really interesting story so far this year is the 1952 Tojeiro-MG Competition Barchetta for private sale by RM for $420k. The car is a silver stunner. John Tojeiro was a British racing legend. He is known as the father of the AC Ace and of course the AC Cobra. He built two MG-powered road-legal racers. This one ended up in the US and has been around the auction blocks a lot. Well more than a lot. I remember it coming up for both private sale and auction by RM in 2011. They were looking for $180k privately with no takers and $220k at auction. In 2012 it was up again at Monterey where they thought $250k but got $238k. Russo and Steele got $245k a year later and last year at Amelia Russo and Steele thought $260k but no one else did. So why the turnover? Well with only a 1.5 litre engine, the car is reliable but slow.
And to show how I am not anti- Italian: What’s the difference between a British car and a golf ball? You can drive a golf ball more than 200m.