Bonhams’ most recent contribution to the spate of recent first-time collector car auctions came as the kickoff event for Audrain’s Motor Week in Newport, Rhode Island on Friday, October 1.
Judging from the comments of exhibitors like John Shibles, the constant and thoughtfully organized activities of Motor Week were a roaring success, a success portended by the Bonhams auction which achieved an 82.9 percent sale rate, $9.2M in successful transactions from just 31 lots sold of 41 offered, an average transaction of over a quarter million dollars, and hammer bids on sold cars that exceeded the auction company’s pre-sale low estimate total.
Numbers like that are not unusual in the present environment, but they are noteworthy for first-time auction venues. In these situations auctions are trying to gain an understanding of the new venue and its participants, spectators, and the event’s emphasis. The sale dockets usually span genres, years and values, from antiques through classics, affordable collectibles, and sports cars to modern performance and luxury cars, in a search for what appeals to the particular venue’s audience and participants.
Bonhams won’t gain much insight into the Audrain Motor Week crowd from the sale’s results where pretty much every genre and era sold well. On the other hand, that reflects positively on the varied appeal of the Motor Week event and its audience.
It did, however, set up a quandary for Bonhams with the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance and its well-established Bonhams auction scheduled for just three weeks later. Bonhams resolved that dilemma this year by making the Greenwich date an Online Only event with physical previews at the Hagerty Garage + Social facility in Bedford Hills, NY, about a half hour north of Greenwich. They sweetened the pot with a largely No Reserve consignment with heavily Aston Martin and Rolls-Royce consignments.
Times change, and those who change with them survive and prosper.