2020 was a very special year with big changes for the worldwide auction houses. After the year got off to a good start, the corona pandemic brought everything to a standstill. Large events that the auctions were part of in recent years were canceled and it was thought that nothing would work in 2020 for the time being.
At the beginning of the year, before the effects of the coronavirus pandemic became apparent, the sales rate – the percentage of vehicles total sold by auction submissions – was 70-75%. A good result for a live classic car auction. When the domestic and international lockdown phases began in March, the auctions that were not canceled or postponed were hit hard.
In April, classic car sales fell to almost 19%. Even online sales have seen dramatic numbers. For example, the numbers at the largest online sales portal in Great Britain, Auto Trader UK, plummeted to a full 30% in relation to the sales from previous years.
But some auction houses very quickly came up with the saving idea. In particular, the large auction houses, which already have a large website, began to conduct online auctions. Many of the well-known auction houses followed suit and also used the online presence to hold auctions. The sellers weren’t put off by this either, and so some real rarities made it to the auction podium in 2020.
According to Hagerty, Silverstone Auctions achieved extremely impressive sales of £ 4.53million on May 23, with a sales rate of 86%, and an average winning bid of £ 61,148. More than twice as much as at the next comparable auction. This was the beginning of a summer boom: as the lockdown eased and spring turned into summer, a sense of optimism fueled the classic car market.
In any case, at the end of the year there was no real slump in the classic car market and the online auctions will certainly continue to take place in the future. We’ll now look at the top 20 sales of 2020.
1. Alfa Romeo BAT 5.7 and 9 ($ 14,840,000 / RM Sotheby’s)
In the course of an art auction in New York in October, three absolutely unique items and design highlights went under the hammer. Drawn by Franco Scaglione at Bertone, the vehicles were presented individually at the Turin Motor Show for three consecutive years from 1953 to 1955 and delighted the public. The three vehicles could now change hands for almost 15 million dollars.
2. Bugatti Type 59 Sport, 1934 (10,547,000 euros / Gooding & Co.)
A Bugatti with a prominent history that convinced the buyer. Before the vehicle passed into the possession of King Leopold, it was used in races. Drivers like René Dreyfus and Jean-Pierre Wimille drove the Bugatti through the curves of famous racetracks such as Spa and Monaco.
3. Bugatti Type 57S Atalante, 1937 (8,688,000 euros / Gooding & Co.)
The last auction record for a Bugatti Type 57 Atalante was set in 2013, also at a Goodings & Co. auction. At the auction in September 2020, 2.7 million euros more were achieved than at that time. It is one of the most beautiful vehicles in the world and that is why it is so highly traded.
4. Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport Roadster, 1932 (5,889,700 euros / Bonhams)
Another Bugatti was auctioned off during the Amalia Island auction. The vehicle is still equipped with the original body built by Jean Bugatti. The first owner was Victor Rothschild, who drove the Bugatti while studying in Cambridge. The last owner, Dean Edmonds, had the vehicle in his possession for 35 years and drove the Bugatti at the Mille Miglia, among others. The Bugatti could also be seen in Pebble Beach.
5. Bugatti Type 55 Super Sport, 1931 (4,600,000 euros / Bonhams)
This great two-seater was used as a factory racing car by Bugatti to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1932. It was driven there by two of the most capable and charismatic drivers in France, the aristocrat Count Guy Bouriat-Quintart from Sarthois (near Le Mans) and the well-known French racing driver Louis Chiron from Monaco. The shapely body was built by Figoni.
6th Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix, 1928 (4,352,000 euros / Gooding & Co.)
Was it because of Bugatti’s 100th anniversary that so many Bugattis top the list? In any case, a Bugatti is also in 6th place on the list of the best. In this case a very special vehicle. The vehicle is absolutely original and shows its patina. The technology was very carefully overhauled in order to change as little of the originality as possible. The Bugatti also has an impressive racing history. In 1928 he was used on the Targa Florio and later won the Coupe de Bourgogne.
7. Lamborghini Miura SV Speciale, 1971 (3,547,000 euros / Gooding & Co.)
This year Lamborghini is celebrating the 55th birthday of the Miura. It is all the more gratifying that this legendary sports car is on the list of the most expensive classic cars. Never before has such a high price for a Lamboghini Miura been achieved at auction. But this Miura is also a very special model, as the name suggests. Equipped with dry sump lubrication and an anti-slip gear, the SV is a very rare example.
8. Aston Martin DB3S, 1955 (3,330,000 euros / Gooding & Co.)
This Aston Martin from the famous Kangaroo racing team did not achieve a world record as it was reserved for its sister vehicle, the Aston Martin DB3S from the Earls Court Motor Show at an auction in 2013, but it still became one of the top ten most expensive classic cars in the world . It still has its original engine, but was otherwise completely restored in the 1970s. The vehicle had an accident in a 1960 race.
9. Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R Prototype, 1965 (3,193,700 euros / Mecum Auctions)
It was the first Shelby Mustang to win a race. This prototype is therefore a special vehicle. He was driven by Jerry Titus and Bob Bondurant, among others. This prototype made the Shelby Mustang famous and shaped its appearance. Today a highly sought-after classic car. But the blockbuster “Le Mans ’66” certainly helped the cinemas to the record sum of over 3 million dollars.
10. Ford Mustang GT “Bullit”, 1968 (3,102,500 euros / Mecum Auctions)
Everyone knows the famous chase in the classic US movie “Bullit”, in which the Ford Mustang with Steve McQueen is chased down the streets of San Francisco. During the big Mecum Kissimmee auction, the most famous Ford Mustang rolled down the auction ramp in 2020. The original film vehicle was carefully and meticulously repaired after it had been hidden for decades. In 2018 it was shown again for the first time on the occasion of a Ford company anniversary.
11. Renault Type AI 35/45 HP Vanderbilt Racer, 1907 (2,764,430 euros / Bonhams)
In recent years, the number of vehicles that can be used to take part in the London Brighton race has increased. This Renault, by the way the most expensive Renault in the world, has a very special racing history. The vehicle was in the Indianapolis Museum for around 60 years. Because originally the Renault was driven by Bill Spear from the Briggs Cuningham Squad in Indianapolis. In 1907 the vehicle won the Brighton 24 Hours. It is one of five surviving Renault Vanderbilt models that are ready to drive.
12. Ferrari 275 GTB / 6C Long Nose, 1966 (2,554,970 euros / Gooding & Co.)
Surprisingly, the 2020 Ferraris did not spearhead the most expensive vehicles. But of course they shouldn’t be missing either. The Ferrari 275 GTB / 6C Long Nose starts with continuous documentation that goes back three years after its delivery. The Ferrari has a larger fuel filler neck and other factory-built features.
13. Ferrari 275 GTB / 6C, 1965 (2,502,800 euros / Artcurial)
The Ferrari shown was put up for sale at the Retromobile in Paris in February. It was one of the highlights of the auction. The Ferrari has a proven racing history. The owner Siegfried Zwimpfer and the later owner Pierre Sudan brought the vehicle to the racetrack several times. Most recently, the Ferrari was in the possession of a lover for 20 years.
14. Ferrari 225S, 1952 (2,330,997 euros / RM Sotheby’s)
This Ferrari was a unique opportunity to acquire a real Ferrari rarity. Only 24 models were built of this model. The vehicle was used in the 1952 Mille Miglia and was among the top ten finalists. In the same year it was also used in the sports car class at the Monaco Grand Prix.
15. Lamborghini Miura SV, 1972 (2,115,317 euros / Silverstone Auctions)
The SV is considered by many to be the most sought after Miura. The Miura put up for auction is one of only 147 models built. Of these 147 cars, the last 94 vehicles delivered with the split-sump engine are considered the absolute top models of the Miura.
16. BMW 507, 1959 (2,070.00 euros / Bonhams)
The BMW 507 with prominent previous ownership achieved a top price. The vehicle was delivered to Prince Constantine II in Greece. The prince drove the vehicle with registration number “36”. The license plates are still on the vehicle today. The BMW was later with one owner for 30 years. The BMW 507 was used four times in the Mille Miglia.
17. Hispano-Suiza J12 Dual Cowl, 1932 (2,005,490 euros / Gooding & Co.)
This pre-war classic car comes from the famous Briggs Cunningham collection. The vehicle still has its original engine and some other original parts. This helped the Hispano Suiza to achieve a record auction result – it was sold for 2 million euros at the Gooding & Co. auction in January 2020. A record price for Hispano Suiza vehicles.
18. BMW 507, 1958 (1,996,250 euros / RM Sotheby’s)
Another BMW 507 rolled over the auction ramp and also achieved a seven-figure sum. The BMW 507 has been redesigned, but still has its original engine.
19. Ferrari 288GTO, 1985 (1,919,380 euros / RM Sotheby’s)
While the Ferraris have topped the list in recent years, there was little to see of the brand with the rising horse in 2020. But this Ferrari 288GTO deserves to be on the list. With only three previous owners and 23,555 kilometers on the clock, the Ferrari is in very good condition. It also has special accessories such as power windows and air conditioning, which were installed in Maranello at the factory. The auction took place online.
20. Porsche 904 GTS, 1964 (1,917,500 euros / RM Sotheby’s)
The Rétromobile trade fair in Paris was able to take place shortly before the big lockdown. The RM Sotheby’s auction also took place in Paris during the Rétromobile. The Porsche 904 GTS was definitely one of the highlights, making it the most expensive Porsche of the year. A vehicle with a racing history, because the Porsche was used on the Tour de France. The original engine has also been preserved here.
Photos: RM Sotheby’s, Goodings & Co., Bonhams, Artcurial, Silverstone Auctions, Mecum Auctions