Who thinks it's still 2022? - Market Watch

By: Cliff Chambers, Photography by: Donington Auctions/Burns & Co/Prime Creative Media


High interest rates and an uncertain economy have changed market behaviour. Not everyone gets it

Who thinks it's still 2022? - Market Watch
$275K was surprisingly not enough to take this XY GT home.

Shakespeare had a winter of discontent, Eddie Cochran moaned about the Summertime Blues and anyone who locked their screens to an auction site during our final weekend of summer, would have come away disenchanted as well.

For the first time in my memory, perhaps the first time ever, three major auctions of special-interest cars were held in Australia on the same weekend.

From noon on February 24 until 4pm on Sunday the 25th, cars from auction rooms in two states were having their details flashed on to screens in man caves and living rooms across this country and other ones as well.

First up with their traditional 12 midday Saturday sales slot was Lloyds on the Gold Coast, followed at 10am the next day by Burns & Co in Melbourne. 

Then at 2.30pm Daylight Savings Time and while Ashley Burns was still eking $250 bids from reluctant buyers, auction newcomer Donington fired up with 72 lots of its own, comprising cars, number plates
and memorabilia.

Before looking in detail at the market disappointments, we should consider the positive aspects of a very active auction weekend, and there were a few. In particular the pace at which newcomer Donington rattled through its list. The clearance rate wasn’t spectacular but time wasn’t being wasted either, when attempts to make reserve were being met with buyer reluctance. 

Headlining Donington’s sale were several lots offered by the Estate of John Ellis, who during the 1970s guided Chrysler Australia’s motor sporting effort. The list was headed by his personal Charger E37 and was followed by a trio of MG-based historic racers, that sold at affordable money and a lovely vintage-era Sunbeam Tourer.

Donington’s big listing of Mercedes-Benz models was headed by a 190SL with garish whitewall tyres that hit $280,000, but only after an elegant 220 Ponton coupe failed to meet its reserve with a disappointing $82,000.

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Stunning Mercedes-Benz 190SL brought $280K at the recent Donington auction
in Melbourne

Top price of the day was $750,000 for a Bugatti with extensive race history and that was fair enough. Biggest bargain was the George Barris customised Cadillac sports wagon that made a miserable $9500. Why miserable? Because the wagon’s original owner was singer and movie star Dean Martin who had it built to carry his golf clubs.

Head north to Lloyds for their 200-strong listing and infrequent sales. However, as a few weeks earlier they had sold a numberplate (NSW 1) for $11 million, they probably weren’t all that bothered by a 25 per cent clearance rate on the cars.

Good results at Lloyds included an XA GS351 Fairmont sedan selling at $65,000 and a tidy VL Calais Turbo that made $42,500. Biggest disappointment was the stunning HK GTS 307 Monaro that made a realistic $165,000 and yet, despite pleadings by auction staff with the vendor, was passed in. 

At Burns’ Sunday auction, the misery continued, with good cars achieving solid prices only to have the offers rejected by owners who perhaps think the market still operates under the auspices of COVID-19.

No one blames a vendor for not wanting to sell a car at seriously less than it is worth, but $166,000 for a restored LC XU1 and $275,000 for an equally outstanding, but also restored XY Falcon GT seemed fair money in a market struggling with high interest rates.

Happily, Burns & Co did find homes for a muscular HQ Monaro 454 at $111,000 and a stunning Ford rod called LETHEL that sold just short of $160,000. 

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(Some sale prices do not include Buyers Premiums which vary according to each auction site’s Terms & Conditions).

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