If you’ve been thinking it’s time to let go of that XK120, XK140 or E-type for top bucks to make room for some new acquisitions, you may want to wait awhile. If the Monterey auction was any indication of the state of classic cars, and Jaguars in particular, buyers had the upper hand. We watched in utter shock as some really amazing Jaguars went for what might be considered “a song.” Here are some examples. At Bonhams Quail Auction, a very nice XK120 Fixed Head Coupe, sold for $48,000 against an estimated high end of $100,000. Also at Bonham’s, a 1966 Series I E-type Roadster sold for a modest $110,000 against an estimated range of $170,000-$210,000. Similarly, there was a “no sale” of an early flat floor E-type with a high bid of $85,000.
Over at Broad Arrow Auctions, now in their second year in Monterey, despite a nice group of cars to hit the block, a XK120 Fixed Head Coupe in seafoam green sold for $50,000 (range was $75,000-$100,000). While a 1962 Series I Roadster sold for $160,000, the estimate was $275,000 at the high end. There were a couple of solid E-types that sold far short of their estimates. The final sale on Thursday was a 1968 4.2 E-Type Roadster that went for $75,000. Similar results were seen on Friday with a gorgeous 1963 E fetching $100,000, roughly half of the estimate. Kinda wish I had a bidding pass at this auction (and all the others).
At Gooding, an early E-Type, Outside Bonnet Latch, Flat Floor hammered at $295,000. Another flat floor E in burgundy went to $170,000. But with an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000, I’m sure the owner was quite disappointed. A XK140 Roadster fetched $105,000.
RM Sotheby’s three-day auction was filled to the brim in their ballroom. Most of the fun was on Saturday, with the auction of an XJ220, D-Type and the star of the show the 1957 Jaguar XKSS. The two Jaguar no reserve cars, a 1964 E Type Roadster and 1949 XK 120 Alloy Roadster sold for $255,000 and $170,000 respectively. The XJ220 was “in the market” with a sell price of $620,000 while the D-Type hit a high bid of $3,600,000, falling far short of the reserve and estimate. The beautiful XKSS hammered at $12,000,000, perhaps a nod to appreciation of the rare and special. The XJ4R-15 was a no-sale with a high bid of $1,100,000.
This cooling of prices was noted in external media coverage of the Monterey auctions. Robert Frank, Wealth Editor on CNBC covered the results in a recent article titled, “The most expensive cars sold at Pebble Beach, even amid disappointing auctions.” Frank comments, “Total sales for the more than 1,200 cars sold over five auctions at Monterey and Pebble Beach reached $400.1 million, the second-highest total ever for the auctions according to the latest tally from Hagerty, the classic-car insurance company. Yet the sales marked a 15% drop from last year's record total of $473 million. Combined with a series of high-profile disappointments on the auction block, the results suggest that inflation, higher interest rates and volatile financial markets prices are putting the brakes on the classic-car market.”
Also, "The cooling market we've observed for the past 15 months finally reached the Monterey auctions after having little impact last year," Hagerty said in a report. The company cited "increased discipline at the higher end of the market, weakening demand from new collectors, and higher prices that have given pause to buyers at the upper end of the market."
By the way, all these auctions were streamed live, primarily on YouTube. So was the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. So, if you don’t want to pony up the dollars to fly to Monterey, spend a fortune on a sketchy hotel, etc., you can watch the live action with your favorite adult beverage from the comfort of your home. Nice to be an armchair commentator as well! Bottom line, enjoy your Jags until we come out from under these volatile markets!