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Classic car market continues to rev up for a good year

The sale of an important 1968 Aston Martin points to a healthy market in rare and historic cars, writes Olenka Hamilton

At Dukes auction house in Dorchester on Friday, a beautiful and rare dark blue four litre Aston Martin DB6 Volante Vantage sold for a very solid £754,000.  James Bond’s favourite luxury car maker is as desirable as ever, despite a levelling out of prices following the five year boom pre-2016.

‘Aston Martin is a good bellweather of the market,’ says Dan Geoghegan, Managing Director of Bicester Heritage. Much like a pristine Van Dyck or a Rembrandt which will always command strong prices, rare classic cars which are in good condition and have a strong provenance are consistently sought after.

One of just 29 made, the car, which was estimated to sell for between £650,000 and £1,000,000, was originally bought by Granada Television founder Sidney Bernstein for his wife in 1968, and has remained in the family ever since. Other owners of the same model have included Paul McCartney, Twiggy, Peter Sellers and Mick Jagger, while The Queen gifted one to Prince Charles for his 21st birthday. In fact, it was the same car which Prince William drove down the Mall on his wedding day.

Max Girardo, who founded RM Sothebys’ European division and now runs the eponymous dealership Girardo and Co, says that Aston values have been ‘stabilising’ after a five year boom between 2011 and 2016. ‘It is a very desirable brand, and it’s a sign of a healthy market that they haven’t gone backwards,’ he explains, venturing that the price might have been even higher had the car been sold at a specialist auction house with international exposure such as RM Sothebys or Bonhams.

‘To get the best price you’ve got to put the car in the right place. Potentially it could have made more,’ Geoghagan agrees. ‘But it’s perhaps a sign of the strength of the market, that a non-automotive auction house was able to achieve a significant amount for a vehicle as a single item in their sale.’

The sale is consistent with the current trend in the historic car market for buying post war vehicles. ‘It’s where the market is the most active at the moment,’ says Girardo, who has seen huge interest in post 1950s vehicles in the past year, especially among young collectors and those entering the market for the first time.

‘Post war cars – from the 1950s onwards - are easier to relate to. For someone coming into the market, it’s sexier, more fun to have a 1960s Ferrari than a 1930s Lagonda or Rolls Royce. Those cars are more formal, less sporty, and more difficult to use.’

While the property market remains stagnant, where better to put your money than into something which will give you pleasure as much as security?  ‘It’s the lifestyle. Everyone has a bit of 007 in them, and let’s be fair, they’re beautiful to look at, thrilling to drive, they have great gravitas,’ Geoghegan says dreamily.

Olenka Hamilton is staff writer at Spear's