Aston Martin DB9: The Smart Choice
Sometimes you need a bit of perspective to see that something is off-kilter, and it came on May 19. While someone was paying over £47k for a low-mile Sierra Cossie at Silverstone, someone else down in Surrey was bagging an Aston Martin DB9 with only 5000 more miles on the clock and flawless history for £31,920.
That’s the going rate for a very nice one now – they’ve dropped to DB7 Vantage levels (which are starting to creep up). On the same day another DB9 – a first-year car with 53,000 miles – went for £27,563 at Silverstone.
At those levels you’re buying the excellent six-speed automatic. Manual cars are rare and command a £5k premium, which is mad because in as little as 5000 miles they can eat clutches that cost £2k to replace.
That aside, the DB9 is proving pretty durable, including the 6.0-litre V12. Giving 450bhp in these earlier cars, you just have to watch out for oil leaks. Bodywise, they are aluminium, although you should look for bubbles around door handles and panel edges.
Other than that, what are you waiting for? There’s little else you can buy for this money that has the same presence, performance and class.
Anyone for tennis sponsors?
On offer at South West Vehicle Auctions’ July 27 sale, this rare Peugeot 306 Cabrio could represent a smart buy for the future. It’s one of just 500 Roland-Garros special editions sold worldwide, with only 17 of them currently registered on UK roads.
These vehicles were produced to celebrate Peugeot’s sponsorship of the French Grand Slam tennis tournament – Roland-Garros is the Gallic equivalent of Wimbledon – and all come in the official tournament colours: green with white leather and checked cloth seats.
Even better, this one has had the same lady owner from new, has always been garaged, and has racked up a mere 41,385 miles. Estimate is £4000-£4750, and if that sounds steep you need to know how collectable these special editions are.
A 205 Roland-Garros convertible made £3750 at an SWVA sale last October. There are three times as many of those about, and that particular car, though nice, was nowhere near this one’s standard and had 103,000 miles on the clock.
If you can bag it anywhere near the low end of the estimate, call it a cross-court backhand winner.
Ferraris are getting cheaper
Silverstone Auctions did well with its one-marque Ferrari sale in May, working in association with Ferrari Owners’ Club GB to sell over 70% of the cars. To temper that good result, not one lot went for over its pre-sale estimate, confirming what we’ve observed before – that while people still want Ferraris, they’re not paying last year’s prices. Things are settling back to more sensible levels at last.
Which means more folk have a realistic chance of seeing that Prancing Horse logo in their garage – and not just nailed to the wall. As entry-level Ferraris go, the 456GT is a very good place to start. It almost borders on sensible, with near enough four seats, and a front engine to quell the nervousness some have of high-powered mid-engined handling. But they’re not too sensible – at launch this was by far the fastest front-engined car money could buy, with that 436bhp V12 being good for 184mph.
Silverstone had a lovely ’03 456M GTA with under 29k miles, the right service record and a recent cambelt change, but the right price proved to be a below-estimate £47,250.
The 911 you can still rely on
As we’ve written before, the 911 market is undergoing what you might call a period of reassessment. Which in simple terms means that prices that shot up too high, too quickly a few years ago are now steadily coming back down to earth again.
We’re still seeing plenty of 911s going unsold at auction while owners adjust to the idea that they’ll either have to take a hit on what they paid or decide to keep the car.
There are always a few exceptions to any rule of course, and in this area we’re talking about the continuing enthusiasts’ favourite, the 993 series. These are not only still selling particularly well, but also holding their values. For the moment at least, they’ve stopped going up any more.
That makes them the safest place of all to park your Porsche funds, and you won’t be disappointed when you get it home either. These 993s are the enthusiast’s choice for good reason.
To illustrate the point, a Carrera 4S we recently liked the look of was pessimistically estimated at £48k-£54k, predicting some market easing, but it ended up selling for proper money: £62,540. That’s still right up there on the 993 high-water mark.
Volvo 240: that’s the name of the game
Maybe it’s all part of the vibe that’s brought Abba back together again, but against the odds all those Lego-brick-shaped Volvo estates are now in demand.
Values for all models have been rising this year, especially the older 240-series cars, so it might be time to snap up a good 740 or 940 before they start playing catch-up. At this point I should probably declare an interest as the owner of a (not for sale) 940 Turbo.
The 240s finally made the jump from ‘hmm, they’re on the up’ to ‘holy cow, what just happened?’ at SWVA’s sale at the end of April. A 1987 Volvo 240 GL auto (pictured) is no golden ticket in this niche, even with one-owner history. It was properly nice, but it had done nearly 84,000 miles. Estimate? £800-£1000. Price paid? £8384.
Yep, that got everyone else’s attention all right. Especially among those who’d been at Anglia Car Auctions two weeks earlier and ignored the very nice warranted 69,000-mile 240 SE estate that had appeared in ITV’s A Private War drama recently. That car could have been bought for less than £3000 then, but wasn’t. We suspect it will now reappear with higher expectations (and numbers) attached.
Performance BMW fans eye up Alpinas
Alpinas have been adding an extra dose of interest to high-end auctions for a little while now. From RM Sotheby’s to Silverstone Auctions, most of the big players have been bigging up the Buchloe marque’s back catalogue.
It’s easy to see why. Low build-number Porsches are auction-room gold dust, and Alpinas have always been rare and special. But the wider market has yet to cotton on, as we found when delving into the Euro-classifieds to find bargains.
An E38 750iL-based B12 6.0 we found in Spain was number seven of just 94 of these 430bhp V12 cruisers. It was on private sale at a tempting £33k.
Too big? How about this Dutch E36 B8 4.6 Coupé (pictured above)? Only 78 of these 333bhp V8s were built. They deliver the equivalent of the M3’s peak torque at just 1000rpm. £55k isn’t pocket money, but the reward is something much rarer than an E46 M3 CSL.
Best value? Enter the B10 BiTurbo.
This 380bhp sleeper offered Testarossa- crushing performance back in the day, and with Euro prices starting at £42k, it looks good against the huge sums asked for the much more common E34 M5s.
Alpinas have previously been the preserve of scene enthusiasts, but now the BMW-following mainstream is showing its love. We’re expecting Alpinas to become highly covetable soon as rare German performance becomes an auction hall buzzphrase.
Rise of the sensible supercar: Honda NSX
You’re probably all aware of the Honda NSX – the supercar that’s like
a Ferrari 348 but built to Japanese rather than Italian standards. And yes, it really is as good as that sounds.
But, however good the NSX is, they’ve always been held back in the market by badge snobbery. Almost overnight, however, it seems that this anti-Japanese snobbery has all but vanished. People have been struck down by an epidemic of good sense, perhaps brought on by flaky Italian electrics and silly parts prices. NSX values have now almost closed the previous £15k-£20k gap to 348s. For cars with decent mileages in the 40-60,000 range (which is most of them, as these aren’t shopping cars) dealers are now routinely asking
£55k-£60k, and selling them.
It’s not too late to get on board. There are still opportunities, as word hasn’t reached all ears yet. We’ve seen a really nice private 46,000-miler offered for £49k, and another with more miles for just £35k. But you’ll have to race the dealers to them.
Original or Restored: You Decide
The old ‘original or restored’ debate raised its head again recently when two Sierra Cosworths were offered at the same auction.
One, in white, was a 42,000-mile car that was fresh from £28,000 worth of professional restoration work, oddly described in the catalogue as ‘body off’. Off what, exactly? That aside, it was close to perfection and came with two sets of wheels.
The other one was a black 26,000- miler that was original right down to its standard exhaust system and correct period tyres. Grunty glory, just as Ford intended it. The auction house thought slightly less of this one’s prospects, giving it a £50k top estimate compared to £55k for the restored car.
In both cases those looked like rather optimistic numbers, and so it proved, though not by much. In fact, the result was a dead heat, both cars selling for £46,200. Sounds about right, but what about the initial question? We’d go for restored, as we’d be less worried about driving it.
Trending: Fresh air 3 Series E30s in demand
There’s a deal of interest in pretty well all good surviving BMW E30s, but the pace is particularly hot for the drop-top version. A couple of years back, I test-drove a 59,000-miler and struggled to justify in my own mind how the dealer could possibly be asking £8995 for it.
Now, of course, I wish I’d haggled lightly and parked it in my garage, as it would probably be worth over £10k now. Well over, if dealer prices for similar cars are any guide. They’re now pushing the £15,000 mark and plenty of private buyers are asking well into five figures. Obviously, asking is one thing, but what are people actually paying?
Close to what’s being asked, it seems. The rush is on to nail good cars while they’re still around. We’ve seen plenty do well at auction this year, and one sold by CCA gives a very clear picture.
It was a car offering nothing that special apart from the patinated Sports leather interior and recent service. With 90,500 miles, unflattering silver paint, and just ‘some’ history, it would have been a £5000 car not too long ago. It actually sold for £9735.
However, not all sellers are up to speed with the new prices, so check the ads – there are bargains to be had!
Stop Press: A low-priced Z1 to leave you Beemer-ing
The clamour for convertible BMWs (see right) does not necessarily apply to all roofless Munich cars – yet.
The Z cars are proof. A few issues ago we highlighted the price disparity of the Z4 M tin lid compared to the canvas top, and the difference between the Z3 M versions is steeply marked.
But if you think of iconic Z cars, the original Z1 perhaps presents the biggest chance of overnight value-blossoming. Twenty-five years ago it was a sensation: a rakish injection-moulded plastic and glassfibre body over a steel substructure, with doors disappearing into the sills. It may not be rocketship-fast, but it’s good-looking and now fairly rare. Of the 8000 built, only 67 remain in the UK, with just a handful for sale in Euro-classifieds.
Another concept car made real, the Alfa Romeo SZ, costs £50k these days, and the Z1 is half the price. That’s good value for what you get, but the Z1 (see above) at Silverstone Auctions’ May 19 sale is even better value. Certified by BMW Classic and freshly MoT’d with refurbished doors, it’s done just 18,000 miles and has an estimate of £25k-£30k. It would be a steal if it goes for that.
In a few years time, such figures could be seen as really cheap. The Alfa SZ doubled in price in a very short time, and although it’s considerably rarer than the Z1, the BMW has a much wider appeal. Definitely one to watch. More details at silverstoneauctions.co.uk
Trending: Bentley Azure – the ultimate Convertible?
Nothing quite gets in your neighbours faces and says, ‘Hey, I won,’ like a Bentley Azure. First-series cars – 1995-2003 – were a joint venture between Bentley and Pininfarina, which assembled the bodies and created the superb hoods. But it’s not just a pretty face – this is basically a drop-top version of the Continental R, so lurking under the bonnet is 385bhp of turbocharged 6750cc V8. So it does 150mph and gets to 60mph in just over six seconds. That’s proper butt-kicking muscle car performance, from a deliciously incongruous stylish full four-seater.
The market recently woke up to all this so prices are rising. It’s now almost impossible to find one for less than £50k, and more like £70-75k for a really good one. But there are exceptions. Historics just sold this one-owner 12,000-mile car for £70k. It’ll probably turn up in a showroom soon with £89,950 on the screen.
Just choose your attire with care, unless you actually want to look like a timewarp 1990s rap artist.
The rise of the XJ-S has been predicted more often than the England football team’s chances of success at a major tournament, with similarly disappointing results. But with something like 115,000 built during a 21-year run they have been victims of their own success. Aided by so many being used as second cars – so not wearing out – there were more about than the classic market wanted, which of course suppressed values.
But time and corrosion has been working on that, and maybe this time the stirrings we are seeing are for real. After all, they’re good to drive and make the right statement.
Two recent results for cars with unexceptional 70,000-odd mileages highlight our point. Silverstone Auctions offered a 1990 V12 convertible in dead-right Bordeaux Red, which might have had five owners, but none had skimped on its upkeep. The £16,920 it made was roughly 15 per cent above market expectations.
Historics weighed in a week later with a late six-pot coupé, a 1995 4.0 Celebration – the popular runout model. It was nice, but with that mileage and a so-so history would have been £12k last year. The £14,280 paid looks significant.
In the market for a Ferrari? Then you're in luck
For the first time on British soil, Maranello’s finest will be the subject of a single-marque auction, which will be held in partnership with the Ferrari Owners’ Club.
Silverstone Auctions will be conducting the sale, to be held at Silverstone Circuit’s Wing Building on the 18th of May. The firm’s managing director, Nick Whale, told us, ‘Ferrari is one of the world’s most recognised brands, and because of the extremely limited production numbers of its cars, they will have the appeal of collectability and investment potential as well as, of course, incredible good looks and a thrilling driving experience.’
A look at the provisional lot list reveals a 2009 Ferrari 612 Scaglietti One-to-One with a tempting £90k-£110k estimate. Powered by a 532bhp 5.7-litre V12, it can thunder to 60mph in a little under four seconds and keep going to 199mph.
These One-to-One editions were bespoke creations for individual clients, and featured a dual-plate Superfast transmission, glass electrochromatic roof, the HGT2 handling package and 20in Challenge wheels.
The sale will be limited to around 30 cars and 65 items of memorabilia. The final lot list is yet to be released and there is still time to consign your Ferrari for the auction. More details at silverstoneauctions.co.uk
This Japanese super-GT is starting to come into its own
Look upon this as an opportunity, because interest is definitely rising in Mitsubishi’s super-coupé at the same time as prices are, if anything falling. 3000GTs might never match Porsche’s 928 for effortless cool, but you do get a lot of car and technology for the money.
Few were sold new in the UK, due to them being expensive and not German. In fact, it’s believed more have arrived since as secondhand imports from Japan where they were badged GTO rather than 3000GT. Japan also got a low-fat model without the twin turbos, so you have a choice. What must be the best example available – a cosseted UK-market manual car with 33,000 miles and ‘GTO’ plate – is on offer privately in Scotland for £11,000. That’s not a fortune, but you can get nice examples of these 0-60 in 5.8 seconds rockets for much less. Two recently popped up at auction: a UK 86,000-miler with 29 service stamps that was snapped up for just £4288, and a Japanese twin-turbo GTO imported in 2005 (and still mercifully standard) that made a similar £4180.
Avoid modded stuff and cars that have stood for a long time (they don’t like that) and you can hardly lose. Want to read more articles like this?
If the secret of being cool is keeping quiet about how great you are, then the Audi S3 Quattro has it nailed.
To the untrained eye, the S3 can easily be mistaken for a tidy and soberly restrained three-door hatchback. Especially if it comes in one of Audi’s ’business hues’ of grey, black or blue, when it is barely noticeable.
But hidden beneath the disguise – in the more desirable 221bhp 2001-03 gen-2 models at least – is the chassis and four-wheel drive running gear of the top-end Audi TT 225. The 1999-2001 S3s had to make do with 11bhp less, which meant that unlike the later cars they couldn’t quite crack 150mph, and are 0.2sec slower to 60mph.
What’s really telling is in the relative values of the TT and the S3. The S3 started life two grand cheaper than the TT 225. Go shopping now and you can easily find good one-owner TTs in the £4000-£4500 range. Probably helped by being rarer, and often held onto long-term by their owners, an S3 Quattro with similar age, mileage and history will cost you around £5500 – exactly what we saw a one-owner 75,000 mile car make at auction recently. So now you know.
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Want front-drive French fun but don’t want to pay 205 GTI premiums? Step right this way
My first foray into the land of hot hatches was not a casual one. I was forever changing cars but, every winter, I’d always buy something with four driven wheels. Jeeps were the usual fare but, one year, circumstances led me to buy a Lancia Delta HF Integrale 8v. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
I’d always liked the early flat-bonnet 8vs, partly because they were less costly than 16vs and Evos yet offered a similar experience. At any rate, using the weather – or budget, time of day or a momentary passing interest on eBay – to justify trying something new seemed reasonable. Continually buying, fettling and driving myriad classics offered a refreshing change from the experiences offered by the new cars I tested daily, among other things. The comparatively weak values of 8v Integrales, at the time, led me to look for other similarly unloved derivatives. Cars that had much to offer but, often living in the shadows of more fabled iterations, were frequently overlooked – and far more accessible. Four years after the retirement of the fabled 205 GTI in 1994, for example, Renault unveiled the Clio II. While a perfectly serviceable and popular hatch, it was hardly one to light a fire under any passing enthusiast. Things got far more interesting in January 2000, however, with the UK launch of the Clio Renaultsport 172.
Besides bearing the performance oriented sub-brand’s badge, it quickly established itself as a highly regarded hot hatch. It weighed in at a mere 1035kg, packed a stout 170bhp 2.0-litre naturally aspirated 16v engine, a revised chassis, OZ F1 wheels and flared arches. These early ‘Phase 1’ variants, built until June 2001, were remarkably analogue machines – with cableactuated throttles and no stability or traction control, unlike later models. Even today the 172’s performance figures stack up well, with a claimed 0-62mph time of 7.2sec and a top speed of 138mph. Driven sensibly, it would even reputedly knock on the door of 36mpg.
Yet, despite this, a good example won’t break the bank – with presentable 172 PH1s currently selling for around £2500, while even immaculate low-mileage dealer examples command less than £5000. This is in part no doubt due to 1980s hot hatches continuing to dominate the limelight while most collectors focus on the flagship Renault Sport Clio V6. What’s also striking is that only 1357 of the 172 PH1s were sold in the UK, making them one of the less common models in the Renault Sport line-up; track action and unintentional hedge remodelling have no doubt reduced that number further since. To put things into perspective, there are currently some 6500 Peugeot 205 GTIs on the DVLA’s radar – and we all know what the prices of those are doing these days.
Up, up and away – eventually
PH1 prices won’t remain low; one dealer is asking £8990 for a limited-edition 172 PH1 ‘Exclusive’. Overly optimistic, but it echoes the early appreciation of collectable 205 GTIs and XR2s. The new Megane RS has just been unveiled, too, further drawing attention to Renault’s back catalogue. Get a history check and look for cam and auxiliary belt changes – and don’t discount costlier later iterations, including the rare 182 Trophy.
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Monster V8 Merc with a sub-five second 0-60mp time and room for the kids
Depreciation really is opening the doors to some astonishing cars right now. This good-as-new C63 AMG wagon, for example. This classy hot-rod for the whole family would have set its first owner back a mammoth £55,000 including the optional performance pack (£3210). Now, ten years later, it’ll cost less than half (£25,950). That’s a serious saving on what’s still one of the fastest estate cars on the road. This C63 wagon drew my eye at Wallis & Son, Cambridge.
Its gills, scoops and muscular wheelarch extensions leave you in little doubt as to the nature of this über-Benz. This example hasn’t been used to carry dogs to the local woods either. It's one pampered wagon. There’s really nothing to the exterior that gives away its decade of use. As it sits a little lower to the tarmac than a standard W204 C-Class, getting in requires a small stoop. There’s also some huge bolsters to the seats that need negotiating. If we’re being super picky, there are some mild signs of wear to the very edge of those bolsters. This only consists of a little colour lifting, which could easily be put right before it gets any worse.
Firing the huge 6.2-litre V8 engine (not 6.3-litre as the wing badge claims) feels like pulling the pin on a hand grenade and giving it a cuddle. There’s the same sense of a latent explosion about to go off. Excitement builds with every blip of the throttle. The quad tailpipes singing a hooligan hymn. Gingerly taking off down some greasy winter roads I’m well aware of the enormous reserves of torque nestled under that bulging bonnet. The C63 turns out to be a pussy cat though. Yes, that engine is an absolute beast, slipping the rear tyres in first, second and third gears, but it never really feels like it wants to deposit you in the verge. The traction control is pretty merciful and allows a certain amount of slide before stopping things getting silly. The upgraded brakes are excellent, hurling you forward on the belts when you bury the pedal, but if you want more control they’re easily managed. Comfort levels are of the highest level and cabin noise remains low at all times, unless that engine climbs into higher revs. We’re very impressed with this example, it’s as close to a new W204 as you’re likely to find. There’s nothing to fault from our drive and the history and mileage make this an ideal future investment.
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You can’t have missed the enormous prices Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworths seem to trade for these days – a couple have breached the £100k mark at auction over the past year. That’s filtered down to standard 3-door Sierra Cosworths and the Escort RS Cosworth – you’re looking at big league prices for those, with values ranging from £30k to anything up to £80k for low-mileage minters.
But there is a breed of Ford Cosworth you can buy for a lot less. In fact, an absolutely mint example is attainable for the price of an entry-level 3-door Sierra or Escort Cosworth. It is, of course, the Sapphire Cosworth.
Some argue that the the two-wheel-drive Sapphire Cosworth is the best handling rear-wheel-drive car. If you fancy all four wheels driven, then essentially you’ve got a half price Escort RS Cosworth – there’s more Sapphire under the whaletailed hero’s body than Escort MkV.
Prices haven’t really reflected that, however. Many more Sapphire Cosworths were made than Escorts and Sierras, so they’ve always been the cheap way in. But time, car thefts, rust and general neglect has worn away at numbers – when was the last time you saw a Sapphire Cosworth out in the wild?
So this 1988 Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Coworth, up for grabs with Classic Car Auctions at the Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the NEC in Birmingham in March, provides some food for thought. It’s estimated at £25k-£30k, putting it at the upper limit of where we’ve seen Sapphire Cosworths trade for, but it deserves it. Rated four stars across the board by CCA, it comes with its original bill of sale and a mammoth history. It’s also done just 36,000 miles in the hands of its two owners.
The Sapphire Cosworth may lack the visual drama of its illustrious three-door Escort and Sierra siblings, but any seasoned petrolhead will clock the subtle styling and accord the Sapphire Cosworth respect. In a way, it’s perhaps the car that added to the Cosworth legend the most – it was the Cossie you were most likely to see. Even the police got in on the act, and bought a few.
The Sapphire Cosworth – whether you’re a Blue Oval fan or not – is a key element of car culture from the 80s and 90s and we believe this is what will bring a rapid growth in values before very long. Though £30k for a Sapphire might seem strong, we believe this could well be one your last opportunities to get into a mint low-miler for vaguely sensible money. Comparable 3-door Sierras and Escorts can be anything up to twice the price. You can see where they’re going…
The sale takes place on March 24. How much do you think it will go for?
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The E30 M3 is a legend in its own wheeltracks – whether you’re an ardent fan of its highly successful touring car exploits or simply adore its rev-hungry zest in the road cars, the E30 M3 is right up there at the top of any BMW fan’s wishlist.
Prices have, of course, increased in line with this desire. So that makes this E30 M3, up for grabs with Silverstone Auctions at its Race Retro sale later this month, all the more interesting.
This particular M3 may have done 169,000km but it has plenty of receipts that point to good care. And, rather than being a garage queen and left to degrade beneath untouched cloth, it’s been used, loved and improved. It was upgraded to Evo 2 specification in 1988, which means it pushes out 220bhp. It also gained other Evolution 2 upgrades – front spoiler, brake ducts, cooling vent, 16-inch wheels and an M-Technic steering wheel. It’s further been improved with Koni dampers, Powerflex bushes and fresh brake discs and pads.
However, is the marketing heading towards absolutely standard cars? Time will tell – with an estimate of £35k to £40k it’s good value compared to such Group A homologation cars like the Ford Sierra RS500 Cosworth and Mercedes-Benz 190E Evo 2. Interested? Head to Race Retro on February 24 and prepare to give your bidding arm a workout. Let us know how much you think it will go for via Facebook and twitter.
The Maserati Shamal is a seriously rare car – just 369 were made. Despite this, for years they languished in the sub £50k doldrums, with both its styling and badge deemed unfashionable.
That’s all changed now – from the Alfa Romeo SZ to the BMW 3 Series and everything in between, the brutalist, chunky styling from the 1980s and early 1990s is in right now. Modern cars are all anonymous blobby shapes with fussy detailing – the stark lines of the cars from this era hold significant appeal to a new generation of classic buyers.
Few cars are quite as brutal as the Maserati Shamal, however. Its designer, Marcello Gandini, had form for brutal shapes – he designed the Lamborghini Countach – and his influence is everywhere, from the cheeky rear arch design to the spoiler on the top of the bonnet.
It’s not style without substance, though – far from it. The 3.2-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 gives you 326bhp to play with, marshalled through a six-speed Getrag gearbox and fed to the rear wheels. It’s got electronically adjustable Koni suspension too. It very much has the bite to match the visual bark.
This particular example is up for grabs with Bonhams at its Les Grandes Marques Du Monde Au Grand Palais sale at Retromobile in Paris, on February 8. It’s covered just 6200km and has just been serviced. It has an estimate of 50,000 to 75,000 euros, or £44k to £66k. Given that the best examples are around £75,000 even in LHD, this could be quite the bargain.
Given the price of other supercars of the era, even if it goes for the upper estimate it’s still a bargain compared to similarly special Astons. Could this year be the year the Shamal goes into the auction hall stratosphere? Let us know!