6 auctioneers give us their personal highlights from 2014

From the viewpoint of an auction block, the classic car world must seem more prosperous than ever. We asked six prominent auction house figures for their personal highlights of 2014...

James Knight, auctioneer at Bonhams

“Apart from handling the Maranello Rosso Collection of Ferraris and Abarths, I would say selling EPE 97, the Lagonda Fox & Nicholl Team Car, for a world-record-setting £1,569,500. This is a car that I have handled a number of times, pretty much spanning my entire career which began some 30 years ago, in 1984.

“In 1987 I took a call from a charming Irish gentleman, David Dunn. He owned EPE 97 and, in those days - and the days before Google - I knew very little about such a car. However, a couple of hours in the reference library soon told me how important it was. We sold the car for David at Earl’s Court to Terry Cohn, who cherished it for many years. When Terry passed away in the early 1990s, the car was acquired privately from his estate by another good client of ours.

After a few years he decided to part with the car, and so approached me again. We sold the car at our Quail Lodge auction in 2008. That buyer, another good client of ours, approached us earlier this year about selling the car, which we duly did at the Goodwood Revival. Each time this car has sold publicly, it has created a new auction record for the marque. It’s a fantastic car to which I've felt very attached throughout my career.”

Max Girardo, auctioneer at RM Auctions

“For me, it has to be the atmosphere in the room at our Monaco sale. It's really hard to put my finger on why the vibe was so strong that day but I guess it's a combination of factors. Sure, we had a great catalogue of cars on offer, but the weather was beautiful and the venue was incredible. When the roof of the Sporting Club slid back and the noise of the historic racing cars reverberated around the room from the nearby circuit, it just perfectly set up what was to be a great auction conducted in an electric atmosphere. Everything just clicked into place that evening.”

Pierre Novikoff, motoring specialist at Artcurial

As you might have guessed, my highlight was discovering the Baillon ‘barn-find’ collection. It’s probably the last time anyone will ever come across such a gathering of cars, many of which were special-bodied and untouched for many years. It was quite surreal to see all the cars covered with spiders' webs, yet with their keys still on the dashboard. It’s like you’ve arrived in the 1950s or 60s. We spent a month living with the Baillon family, cataloguing each car and assisting with the transportation arrangements. It was always one of my dreams to discover a collection like this, and I’m sure it will be well-sold at Rétromobile.

Nick Whale, auctioneer at Silverstone Auctions

“What sticks very clearly in the mind was the privilege and the opportunity to offer and sell two significant Ferraris at our inaugural Salon Privé sale in September. The first was a 250 Series Lusso realising close to £2m, and the second a rare 1971 Daytona Spider which achieved more than £2.25m. Prancing Horses aside, the car I’m most proud to have handled and sold was the beautiful and proven 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental which rightly sold for more than £1 million. A staggering sum, but a flawless car. It pleases me to see that quality is always recognised.”

Chris Routledge, auctioneer at Coys

“The undoubted highlight of our 2014 auction season was being chosen by British television network Channel 4 to produce and feature in a live auction event held at our Spring Classics auction in London in March. Appearing on the rostrum was certainly a highlight of my auctioneering career to date, and it is very satisfying to know that a Coys auction was being viewed by over 2 million people in Britain on that Sunday evening, which simply has to be a record, as it has never been done before. The six cars we sold all went for well over their estimates, three of them setting new world records. Certainly a highlight, and fantastic news for the historic car market and movement in general.”

David Gooding, president of Gooding & Company

“Overall, Ferraris did extremely well for us in 2014 and one of the more memorable highlights of the auction year was hammering a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider for a world record of $15,180,000 at Pebble Beach. This sale and the historic 1955 Aston Martin DB3S and 1956 Maserati 250F selling for new benchmark prices made these auctions a must-see event. You could feel the excitement build in the room as the drop-dead gorgeous Cal' Spider arrived on stage with impeccable pedigree and poise.” 

Photos: Bonhams, RM Auctions, Artcurial, Silverstone Auctions, Coys, Gooding & Co.