The bank busting classic cars of 2020 revealed

Classic cars are big business and bidding at auctions for collectible vehicles is ferociously contested among those petrolheads with pockets deep enough to fulfill any four-wheeled desire.

And that was true even in 2020, when most sales took place online to avoid mass gatherings during the pandemic. 

But as most of us know, emotional purchases can sometimes result in over-exuberance, hard-headedness and – in some cases – overpaying for items.

In these ten cases of collectible car sales last year, winning bidders were found to have paid well over the predicted value of the motors they wanted – in one case, 155 per cent over the market value of the vehicle in questions.

However, were they sound investments in one-of-a-kind cars, or have buyers bust the bank by paying too much for the classics they wanted?

Hammer time: Despite the pandemic, collectible car auctions still went ahead throughout 2020, though sales and bidding was exclusively online only. Below is a list of the 10 cars sold at UK auctions for well over their estimated market value

The list of vehicles sold at auction for over their market value has been compiled by Hagerty.

In its latest report, it has identified 10 cars that outperformed the market at UK sales throughout 2020, with some cars obliterating their auction estimates as well as the Hagerty Price Guide, which is based on auction results, independent sales, insurance values and Hagerty analysts.

‘History, provenance, and specification, plus buyer enthusiasm, can push certain cars to unexpected heights,’ the expert team of classic car valuers states.

Here is a rundown of the top 10 models that annihilated their expected values last year. 

10. 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV

Auction: Silverstone Auctions Silverstone Classic Live Online Sale, 1 August 2020

Hagerty Price Guide value: £1,720,000

Sale price vs HPG value: +11%  

This ultra-low-mileage version of the 'ultimate spec' Lamborghini Miura didn't hit its lower auction estimate, but still exceeded market value by 11%. says Hagerty

This ultra-low-mileage version of the ‘ultimate spec’ Lamborghini Miura didn’t hit its lower auction estimate, but still exceeded market value by 11%. says Hagerty

The Miura is often referred to as the original supercar – and there are fewer better examples than the one sold by Silverstone Auctions last August.

It is one of only 11 right-hand drive Super Veloce versions of the iconic Lamborghini, which is arguably the most desirable of the lot and described by the auction house as the ‘ultimate spec’ for UK collectors.

Having spent most of its life in the warmer climates of Australia, it had covered a mere 32,014 miles at the time of sale. That works out at an average of 667 miles a year since it was built.

Achieving a sale figure of £1.72million was impressive, and 11 per cent over the Hagerty value. However, it didn’t match the £1.8million to £2.4million estimate put on it. Even if it had hit those dizzy heights, the new owners has their hands on a motor that’s guaranteed to increase in value.

9. 1973 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS

Auction: Silverstone Auctions Silverstone Classic Live Online Sale, 1 August 2020 

Sale price vs HPG value: +21%

This 1973 Ferrari Dino 246 sold for 21% over the market value, according to Hagerty. Being one of 235 UK-spec versions of the open-top Dino available and having covered just 18,275 miles, its £337,500 winning bid wasn't a surprise

This 1973 Ferrari Dino 246 sold for 21% over the market value, according to Hagerty. Being one of 235 UK-spec versions of the open-top Dino available and having covered just 18,275 miles, its £337,500 winning bid wasn’t a surprise 

The Ferrari Dino 246 is a classic car that has accelerated in value over the last couple of decades. In fact, Hagerty says that around the early 2000s it wasn’t unusual to see them changing hands for fees in the region of £60,000.

This example in particular, which sold earlier in the same day as the Lamborghini Miura SV above, is one of only 235 UK-supplied examples of the GT Spider – an the open-topped version of the famed Ferrari with a removable roof panel. 

Staggeringly, it had covered a paltry 18,275 miles at the time the hammer dropped, which is some 289 miles a year on average since it came off the assembly line some 48 years ago.

What also boosted interest in the car was the incredible level of documentation it was sold with, including copies of the original order and invoice from Ferrari to Dick Lovett, DVLA ownership from new, MOTs and service invoices dating back to 1974, the factory manuals and even the bespoke jack it was sold with

8. 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Hardtop

Auction: Bonhams Goodwood Speedweek sale, 17 October 2020

Sale price vs HPG value: +22%

This 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Hardtop is a fine example of a classic car that needed very little work doing to it following a thorough restoration. Which might explain why it sold for over the auction estimate and Hagerty's market value

This 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Hardtop is a fine example of a classic car that needed very little work doing to it following a thorough restoration. Which might explain why it sold for over the auction estimate and Hagerty’s market value

While the 300 SL was the hyper-expensive race-bred sports car to have back in the day and in collections now, the less exotic, though no less refined, 190 SL is a more affordable route into classic Mercedes ownership.

This left-hand drive example sold by Bonhams during Goodwood’s behind-closed-doors Speedweek event, is proof that there’s plenty of demand for these more achievable SLs. 

Big money had been spent on this version before it was sent to auction, including a re-spray, interior re-trim and the engine overhauled by a UK specialist. In short, it didn’t need a penny spending on it and was described by the auction house as the one of the very ‘best of its kind available’.

With the hammer dropping at £155,250, it not only outpaced its £120,000 high estimate but also exceeded Hagerty’s £127,000 price guide value.  

7. 1987 E30 BMW M3 Competition Pack

Auction: Silverstone Auctions May Live Auction, 23 May 2020

Sale price vs HPG value: +29%

This 1987 BMW started life out as an M3 road car but, during the ownership of none other than Jamiroquai front-man Jay Kay, has been modified to competition specification, though is road legal

This 1987 BMW started life out as an M3 road car but, during the ownership of none other than Jamiroquai front-man Jay Kay, has been modified to competition specification, though is road legal

Usually it’s the provenance of a collectible car that drives its value, and its more rare for modified examples to see a high uplift in estimated value at auction.

However, this 1987 BMW bucked that trend, and for two good reasons.

Firstly, it started life as a German-supplied M3 but recently was developed into a ‘Competition spec’ car by Classic Heroes, with the addition of a 260bhp 2.5-litre engine and a short-shift gearbox – though remaining entirely road legal.

Secondly, the car was offered straight from the collection of Jamiroquai frontman and famed petrolhead, Jay Kay. And nothing says price hike like a celebrity former owner, pushing the sale price 29 per cent higher than the Hagerty value. 

6. 2005 Porsche 911 Turbo S

Auction: Silverstone Auctions Silverstone Classic Live Online Sale, 1 August 2020

Sale price vs HPG value: +33%

The 996-generation of the fabled Porsche 911 is beginning to see an increase in interest and value. This super low-mileage Turbo S, which is a rare manual gearbox versions, sold for a third more than what Hagerty says these models are worth today

The 996-generation of the fabled Porsche 911 is beginning to see an increase in interest and value. This super low-mileage Turbo S, which is a rare manual gearbox versions, sold for a third more than what Hagerty says these models are worth today

Porsche’s 996-generation 911 is starting to come of age and is gaining greater appreciation as the years pass

However, the sale of a 2005 911 Turbo S at Silverstone Auctions’ online sale at the start of August shows that when it comes to any 911, the more unique examples will always command the most money. 

To start, this is a Turbo S version, which already gives it plenty of kudos. Then you factor in that it had covered a little over 18,000 miles in its lifetime, has a manual gearbox and is fitted out with the full aero kit, and you start to understand why this exceeded expectations last year. 

A sale price of £81,000 eclipsing the pre-auction estimate of £45,000 to £55,000 and was 33 per cent over the Hagerty Price Guide.

5. 1961 Jaguar Mk II 3.8

Auction: Silverstone Auctions May Live Auction, 23 May 2020 

Sale price vs HPG value: +34%

'I'm too sexy for my Jag...': This 3.8-litre 1961 Mk II Jaguar was last owned by Right Said Fred frontman, Richard Fairbrass. But the main reason it sold for well above the market value was the staggering low mileage of just 20,400 miles

‘I’m too sexy for my Jag…’: This 3.8-litre 1961 Mk II Jaguar was last owned by Right Said Fred frontman, Richard Fairbrass. But the main reason it sold for well above the market value was the staggering low mileage of just 20,400 miles

At a third over Hagerty Price Guide value, this particular 3.8-litre 1961 Mk II, sold with Silverstone Auctions in May, ticked all the boxes for collectors. 

Not only did it have the all-important matching engine and chassis numbers but also a comprehensive history, previous magazine features and heritage certificate but also a previous ‘celebrity’ owner.

No, it wasn’t Inspector Morse. It was, in fact, owned from 2006 until last year’s sale by Right Said Fred frontman, Richard Fairbrass.

It was, however, the verified 20,400 miles on the clock (an average of 246 miles a year) and the fact it was  ‘one of the best Mk2 examples we have ever offered for sale’ that saw it demolish its estimate figure.

4. 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV Speciale

Auction: Gooding & Company Passion of a Lifetime auction: 5 September 2020

Sale price vs HPG value: +86%

This gold metallic Lamborghini Miura utterly smashed the £1.7million book value for a 1971 SV example, eventually being sold in September for a highest bid of £3.2million

This gold metallic Lamborghini Miura utterly smashed the £1.7million book value for a 1971 SV example, eventually being sold in September for a highest bid of £3.2million

The second Lamborghini Miura to feature in this list, and this one absolutely tore up the book values.

Hagerty Price Guide deems this model to be worth around £1.7million, while the Gooding & Company estimate was for between £1.6million and £2million. So when this Oro Metallizzato (Gold Metallic) P400 SV Speciale eventually sold for a spectacular £3.2million – a full 86 per cent over the market value – it certainly turned a few heads.

The auction house should have seen it coming, given they’d described it as ‘one of the most extraordinary Lamborghinis of all time’.

It’s one of only 150 SVs built and was delivered new to VIP and French industrialist, Jacques Dembiermont. Today, it’s seen as the being among the most important, well-documented and unique examples of the original supercar.

3. 1988 Porsche 928 SE

Auction: Silverstone Auctions NEC Classic Live Online Auction, 13 November 2020 

Sale price vs HPG value: +88%

The 928 is rapidly becoming a more collectible modern classic, and this 1988 variant is among the best of them available in the UK. It sold for almost £130,000, which was 88% over the market value for this model

The 928 is rapidly becoming a more collectible modern classic, and this 1988 variant is among the best of them available in the UK. It sold for almost £130,000, which was 88% over the market value for this model

A 928 has for years been one of the cheapest ways into Porsche ownership, especially for those with tighter budgets for their motor collections. 

However, the bottom end of the market has seen quite a substantial uplift in recent years, pushing the 928 closer to the flagship 911s of the same era.

That said, few examples are unlikely to hit the dizzy heights this 1988 928 SE achieved at Silverstone Auctions’ final sale of the year, where it sold for £129,375 – a whopping 88 per cent over the Hagerty value.

With 10,325 miles on the clock, the fact it has barely been ran in was seen as a big bonus. And, being a rare ‘Sport Equipment’ model, with just 42 produced for the UK market in right-hand drive, numbers are relatively low. Also, its heritage was another strong selling point; having one owner from new until 2015, which happened to be the Egyptian Embassy.  

2. 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Auction: Historics Auctioneers Ascot Racecourse Sale, 26 September 2020

Sale price vs HPG value: +146%

This 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL sold for 146% over market value, One keeper from new, just 10,000 miles on the clock and meticulously maintained, it places second in terms of collectible cars that busted their estimated values

This 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL sold for 146% over market value, One keeper from new, just 10,000 miles on the clock and meticulously maintained, it places second in terms of collectible cars that busted their estimated values 

Hagerty says this 1989 example of the R107 that sold through Historics in September could be an indication that it’s time for this generation of Mercedes-Benz SL to shine.

However, this version in particular is especially desirable, which explains why it demolished both the valuations and auction experts’ estimations. While the Hagerty Price Guide value this model at £28,500, which was supported by Histrorics’ £25,000 to £30,000 prediction, the SL eventually sold for a £70,184 hammer price. 

That’s 146 per cent over market value. 

What caused the auction scramble for this car? How about the sixteen service book stamps despite it covering little more than 10,000 miles in its lifetime? It’s also had one female owner from new and the Signal Red Mercedes has never left the islands of Jersey and Guernsey.  

1. 1972 Bentley Corniche

Auction: Silverstone Auctions Silverstone Classic Live Online Sale, 1 August 2020

Sale price vs HPG value: +155%

Bank buster of 2020: This 1972 Bentley Corniche, sold by Silverstone Auctions during its Silverstone Classics online event on 1 August, exceeded the Hagerty market value price by two-and-a-half times, selling for an astounding £158,625

Bank buster of 2020: This 1972 Bentley Corniche, sold by Silverstone Auctions during its Silverstone Classics online event on 1 August, exceeded the Hagerty market value price by two-and-a-half times, selling for an astounding £158,625

Without doubt, 2020 was a good year for collectible British cars sold at auction. And this is best proven by the incredible performance of this 1972 Bentley Corniche, sold by Silverstone Auctions during its Silverstone Classics online event on 1 August.

It both exceeded ‘generous’ pre-auction estimate of £80,000 to £90,000 value and a calculated £62,100 market worth to be won by a highest bid of more than two and a half times what Hagerty’s Price Guide – a fee of £158,625.

Its rarity compared to its better-known Rolls-Royce equivalent might have had something to do with that. Only 43 right-hand drive examples were built, from 570 in total, which is little more than a tenth of the equivalent total number of Corniches made by Rolls-Royce.

This particular car was also chosen for display during Bentley’s 100th anniversary celebrations at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, and deep within the car’s weighty history files is the invitation letter from the Duke of Richmond himself. 

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