The first three months of the year have been extremely busy so I thought it was time to take stock, take a breath and bring you up to date with everything that has been happening at Frank Dale & Stepsons during this time. Emma and I have travelled extensively since the start of the year, visiting four continents and racking up a few thousand air miles between us. We may have been one of British Airways best customers so far in 2018 and we could probably recite the BA safety video with relative ease at the moment. As much as I enjoy travelling it's great to be home again with my feet planted firmly back in the UK for the next few months. This coincides with the end of British winter time as well (fingers crossed). I'm sure, like us, if you live in Northern Europe you have seen enough snow, ice and salty roads over the past few months to last a lifetime. I for one, can't wait to get back behind the wheel of some beautiful classic cars again. Summer can't come soon enough. The sales department has seen a steady and solid start to 2018, with a number of deals agreed during the first three months of the year. There hasn't been a specific pattern to follow, with a broad range of models finding new homes, which has been gratifying to see. From elegant Derby Bentleys, to long wheel base Silver Cloud III's, to a Radford bodied Mk VI Shooting Brake, the range of sold cars from our showroom this year has been quite varied. So regardless of the year, model and style, it appears that quality cars with interesting coachwork are still very much admired and we have been quietly pleased with the feel of the market so far this year. I sense a degree of confidence has started to return following an undeniable year or two of uncertainty.
Illustrated here are some of the cars we have sold since our last newsletter
1935 Bentley 3 1/2 Litre Open Tourer by Corsica
1936 Bentley 4 1/4 Litre Saloon by Hooper
1947 Bentley Mk VI Countryman by Harold Radford
1960 Bentley S2 Standard Steel Saloon
1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III SCT100 by James Young
1962 Bentley S2 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward
1965 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Standard Steel Saloon 1954 Bentley R Type Continental Fastback by H.J.Mulliner
Barrett-Jackson Hits $116.7 Million in total sales at spectacular 2018 Scottsdale Auction
So just at these three events alone, when converted back into pounds, shillings and pence, a total of around £275,000,000 of cars changed hands, with an overall sell through rate of 86% demonstrating a healthy beating heart in the classic and collector car world. It's worth noting that these results were ably assisted by a greater number of cars being entered at no reserve, and just as importantly some sensible pre-sale estimates and reserves set by the vendors and auction houses. As dealers we have to move with the times, adapting to the market around us and it seems the auction houses have also adjusted their approach to doing business, which is good for us all in the long run.
In Paris the pre-war cars fared well with Bonhams in particular selling a large number of cars at the Grand Palais and Artcurial wrapped up the week in their unique style, with singing auctioneers and a babble of voices from the podium stoking the room's interest:
And when you add Scottsdale specialists Barrett Jackson into the mix and their mammoth sale which grossed over $116,000,000 with a sell through rate of 99% I think it's fair to say a fair number of cars changed hands in Arizona this January.
At Amelia Island, the two major auction houses in the States went head to head over the concours weekend, with Bonhams adding to the totals:
The Scottsdale auctions produced some good results with Gooding taking top honours amongst the "big three":
Auction house Sale Total Sell through rate Gooding $49M 86% RM Sotheby's $36M 87% Bonhams $25M 86%
Auction house Sale Total Sell through rate Bonhams €15M 76% RM Sotheby's €24M 83% Artcurial €28M 81%
Auction house Sale Total Sell through rate Gooding $36M 94% RM Sotheby's $27M 83% Bonhams $13M 85%
In the auction world, there have been three major classic car gatherings so far this year, at Scottsdale in January, Paris in February and Amelia Island in March. So how is the market beyond our showroom?
Meanwhile back at Frank Dale & Stepsons we have all the summer events to look forward to but before the planning begins lets look back in more detail at the early events of 2018 that we had the pleasure of attending.
Paris in February is not known for its clement weather but this year it was particularly chilly with widespread snow and ice to greet us when we arrived. The French don't seem to follow the British in terms of "health and safety" so we walked the Parisian streets with trepidation without a shovel or bag of salt in sight and we were glad we didn't have to drive anywhere whilst in the French capital. But the freezing conditions were more than worth the trip with all that Paris has to offer, especially the quirky and charming Retromobile show at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. This event typically presents a season opening opportunity to a number of top names in the industry to flex their muscles and put on a striking display of beautiful and rare classic cars, and this year they continued to dazzle. The main hall was dominated by beautiful stands put together by Fiskens, JD Classics, Axel Schutte, HK Engineering and Lukas Huni. Fiskens unveiled a top class eclectic collection of important cars once again, including a stunning 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost by Kellner, a lovely original 4.5 Litre Bentley Weymann Saloon and a pair of gorgeous Speed Sixes. Trade was brisk and Fiskens secured a number of notable sales during the five day show.
Fiskens beautiful 1914 Silver Ghost by Kellner
Never one to disappoint, Lukas Huni put together a quite frankly stunning display with a crescent of fantastic Ferrari 250 GT SWB's taking centre stage in various coachwork styles. On these two stands alone the quality and value of cars on display was jaw dropping and I take my hat off to them both. Away from the larger stands there was a lot more to see and something for just about everyone; from beautiful sports cars to exotic pre-war examples, auto jumble and model cars for those looking to make a less substantial purchase at the show. Industry faces gathered at the various auctions held in Paris during the week and a fair bit of business was no doubt done on the periphery. A quick stop at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were also slotted in during a break from the motoring exhibition. Over lunch we discussed the mood of the market, which was nicely buoyant and optimistic. So we returned to London with renewed ambition to become an exhibitor at Retromobile in the future.
Lukas Huni's fabulous display of Ferraris in Paris
Around eighteen months ago we supplied a Bentley R Type Continental which, it must be said, was a very nice car at point of sale. However, the new owner wanted to improve the car further, something we are always happy to assist with. He asked us to bring the car back up to show condition and ensure it was highly reliable on long distance rallies.
Chassis No BC58D had been repainted some years ago in a different colour so the new owner decided to restore the car to its original Circassian (or navy) blue. Wind the clock forward a year, the restoration works were complete, the car was shipped to its new owner and he proudly entered it into the Boston concours near to his home. The car won the Amelia Island Trophy which came with an automatic invitation to enter the prestigious Amelia Island Concour D'Elegance in March.
When the owner told us about the invitation, both Emma and I felt it was an opportunity we couldn't miss and made plans to visit the event to see our customer, his beautiful Bentley and to cheer him on in the concours. After touching down in Orlando we took the scenic route and made a detour to Daytona to see the famous race circuit and were seriously impressed with the scope of the place. If you get the chance to go, it's definitely worth seeing. Leaving the racetrack behind us we pushed on to Amelia Island, with its beautiful beaches, white picket fences, clapboard houses and friendly locals full of north Floridian charm. With the threat of bad weather the concours was moved forward to the Saturday for the second year in a row so we made our way to the very smart Ritz Carlton resort to take it all in. And it was certainly worth the trip. The quality and range of cars displayed on the fairways of the resort was something to behold.
Me with the winning Bentley at Amelia Island
The Rolls-Royce class had some beautiful entries, with several Silver Cloud convertibles and a lovely Silver Dawn drophead coupe by Park Ward. The Bentley class was no less impressive, with "our" R Type Continental up against a stunning S1 Continental drophead coupe, a beautiful S1 Fastback and a very stylish one-off Mk VI coupe by Figoni & Falaschi. During the afternoon each class was awarded runner up and best in class and along with the owner of the car we were delighted to see BC58D awarded first place in the Bentley class. It was very gratifying to see our team's hard work being so highly rewarded at such a prestigious event and it was a day that both Emma and I will remember with great pride for a long time to come. The overall best in show awards went to a 1963 Ferrari 250/275P in the concours de sport and a stunning 1929 Duesenberg drophead coupe was the victor in the concours d'elegance. These were well deserved wins and I congratulate the owners of these two magnificent cars. And so, with a little sand in our suitcases, we packed our sunglasses away and returned home again to London to prepare for our next event, the Essen Techno Classica in Germany.
I have been attending the show for about fifteen years now and whilst it's hard on the soles of your feet, it's greatly enjoyable and a terrific meeting place for dealers, customers and friends in the classic car world. We have exhibited on the same stand in Hall One at Essen since our very first show, however this year we enlarged our presence with almost double the stand space, allowing us to show more cars in a more impressive way. We displayed three beautiful Derby Bentleys with open coachwork and a selection of five post war coach built cars including a stunning S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward and a beautiful S1 Continental Fastback by H.J.Mulliner, two of our personal favourites. I was delighted with the finished result and all credit to Emma and Greg who planned and executed the upgraded stand. My contribution to the stand was fairly limited, although it should be known that I was spotted hoovering the stand's expanse of carpet one morning before the show opened; clearly a notable contribution. We were pleased to shake hands on a couple of deals at the show as well as securing a number of new and exciting consignments for the coming season. So all in all, another very successful year at Essen for Frank Dale & Stepsons and it's already in the diary for 2019.
Essen Techno Classica Our first exhibiting commitment of 2018 was at Essen, where we have exhibited cars every year since the early 1980's.
NEW ARRIVALS We have some wonderful new arrivals in our showroom at the moment. Black never goes out of fashion and we have some beautiful new arrivals in our showroom finished in this colour. We confidently offer some of the best Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars you will find for sale anywhere in the world. We look forward to receiving your questions or enquiries about these three superb motor cars, or any other cars currently offered from our extensive sales inventory.
We have picked up where we left off in 2017, enjoying a very busy and productive first three months of the year with numerous ongoing projects. The basic servicing work has been very steady and our restoration works continue on numerous fronts. Greg and I who run the workshop were delighted to hear about the success of BC58D at the recent Amelia Island Concours. It's great to see our work recognised at such a high level and represents the significant strides we have made in recent years in the level of detail we now demand from our talented team and the cars we are entrusted with. We are currently wrapping up another car bound for the concours fields in 2018, a stunning 1955 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward. It has undergone extensive works and is now finished in steel blue which looks terrific, with a new dark blue mohair hood and a tan leather interior. We hope to show this car at one or two major concours in 2018 and are hopeful of further positive results.
Following the success of BC58D, another R Type Continental we have been working on is also nearing the end of its restoration works. Mechanical prep has been completed as has coachwork restoration and a re-paint in black. We have also made new lightweight aluminium bumpers for this car at the request of the owner, to complete the cars new stylish appearance. We are hoping to have this one wrapped up very shortly and ready for the spring and summer season. The works also continue on a 1961 Bentley S2 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward. This model, along with the S3 and Rolls Royce Cloud III Chinese Eye style models are not the simplest to restore due to the way they were constructed. With both steel and aluminium panels in the coachwork, oxidisation and corrosion are not uncommon and this has been the case with this particular car. So when undertaking a job of this size, it's important to lay solid and sound foundations. Extensive metal work has ensued to restore the coachwork to arguably better than new condition. The sills have been replaced and the fabrication works are ongoing to produce a surface that is ideal for shaping, priming and painting, and a finish that will not only look superb but will also stand the test of time. With the engine removed for overhaul we can also get back to basics with the engine bay cosmetics, to produce a concours finish. It's a big job but one that is progressing well and is taking shape nicely. top tips from the workshop I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to post war Rolls-Royce and Bentleys, but there are some subtle and tasteful improvements one can make to a car which can greatly add to the driving pleasure without taking away from the all-important original feel. If your driving experience isn't currently as smooth as you would like, we can fit an upgraded universal joint to your prop shaft, to remove any small vibrations you might have previously felt. In my opinion, they are a better unit than those originally fitted in the 1950's and 1960's and can add a great deal of overall improvement. More and more of our customers now request modern stereo systems and or air conditioning in their S Type Continentals, which can put excessive strain on the original dynamo. So we encourage the fitting of an alternator instead which is capable of keeping the car charging at a wider range. Electronic ignition is another upgrade we can subtly add to your S Type or Silver Cloud which makes the car smoother, more reliable and can aid fuel consumption. If you would like to enquire about any of these upgrades for your own car, please drop me a line or telephone the workshop for more details.