The Sprint Speciale Auction Bonanza

The month of August was indeed unusually high with auction activities for the Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale. There were a total of seven auctions going on ALMOST simultaneously! That in itself was incredible.

I find the SS to be the elusive car that has been under the radar for the longest time as the most unappreciated car at the Alfa Romeo gatherings where most don’t care to identify.

The SS was unique and avant-garde model that many found too radical when first introduced in 1957 and last produced 1965 and, as a result, it fail to captivate the souls and mind of the general audience. The Sprint Speciale loyal following had been small. And for that reason many managed their way into neglect and abandonment for the longest time until recently, the lovely SS is finding its way back into the mainstream and appreciated for what it is, a real classic and a work of art.
Personally, I attribute the sudden change and shift as a result of the 2011 Amelia Island lot 32 Goodings auction 1961 Giulietta Sprint Speciale  such a sale set a new record. This auction opened the floodgates for other SS market when it sets new pricing precedence and at one point it seems that SS’s were coming out of the woods thus “flooding” the market with many cars becoming all available in all sorts of conditions. Market since then has been leveled off.
Let’s leapfrog to August 2014 and review today’s SS market after looking under the microscope on the most recently completed auctions:
Auction #1;  The Bring A Trailer listed SS better known as the Vespa SS. In my view, and, generally speaking, I expected to see this car go for around $145,000 to $175,000 given it was a fully documented restoration that actually happened live under the watchful eye of a generally sympathetic audience. Not particularly keen on speculating or dwell why it did not sell; nevertheless, comparable SS concurrently running at various auctions managed to perform significantly better with completed sales.

UPDATE: The Vesta SS is back on Bring A Trailer for auction. Hopefully, it will do better this time around despite of my believe that Bring A Trailer is not the ultimate auction setting for some cars and in particular this one. I wish Vespa the best of luck.

Auction #2; Bonhams Auction Lot 300

Chassis no. AR 381354
Engine no. AR00121*01353  Sold for $77,000 including buyer’s premium. Poorly presented by both the owner and auction house missed an opportunity to reach it potential given that it seems like a good restoration candidate.
Auction #3; Goodings Auction Lot 25
Sold for $198,000 including buyer’s premium
Auction #4; RM Auction Lot 258
Sold for $165,000 not sure if this number includes the buyer’s premium.
Auction#5;  Ebay Auction
This one sold on eBay with a final price of $85,000. A real bargain for the condition and completeness of this car. This SS virtually walked away under the radar at a  relatively steal when compared to similar samples available. Whoever purchased this car most likely will be happy.
Auction #6; Mecum Auction at Monterey Lot S138
This one sold for $130,000 and again, not sure if it included the buyer’s premium.
And last but not least,
Auction #7; Russo and Steele Run # S618
Final selling price if it managed to sell still unknown. The Zat mobile although interesting it does not spark any emotional interest.
Despite the doom projections of the SS flooding the market, crashing, or the bubble bursting proved to be nothing more than a general public over-reaction of future market behavior.

My view, on the other hand, seems like the SS market will remains stable with continuing upward appreciation.
One final note on what we have learned on these auctions:
It’s overwhelmingly clear that the venue selection needed for promoting the sale of these cars will have the biggest impact. That said; Not all auctions venues are created equal. Likewise, presentation and condition are crucial. Thus, I would stay away from personal liberties such as interior colors and other distracting modifications. Originality and good taste will always prevail.

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