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    SERIOUS PRICES FOR 'FUN' CARS

    Perhaps the most bizarre recent market trend is for fantastic sums being shelled out for what have traditionally been novelty cars based on common-or-garden underpinnings. Beach cars are the latest executive tov to command huge money. The fun-factor counts in their favour, but when someone pays £109,000 for a #Mini it is time to sit up and take notice.

    But that car - sold by Bonhams at Quail Lodge - just reflected a growing trend. Even Philippe Starck’s #1972 Fiat Shellette starts to look like good value having sold for ‘just’ £33,000 at Artcurial’s 2014 Retromobile fixture. There were more interesting examples in the #Monaco sales: a #1963 #Autobianchi Bianchini Jolly (£42,000 at Coys) and a #1969 #Fiat 500 Mare by Carrozzeria Holiday (£39.5k at RM).

    There’s no denying the rarity of these cars, but the prices are still staggering. In the same way, it is difficult for long-term enthusiasts to accept something such as an Amphicar commanding £50k-plus. Twenty years ago, you could pick one up in the Triumph Sports Six Club’s Courier for little more than the price of a decent Vitesse.

    Scroll back a few years and the market deemed an ex-Gianni Agnelli #1959 #Fiat 600 Jolly by #Ghia to be worth £31,000 at Bonhams. When new, such a car would have cost roughly twice the price of a factory-fresh 600, so that seemed to be an intimidating-enough value. Yet a year later a similar example without the celebrity ownership made £50,000 at Quail Lodge.
    In #2013 , RM took £51,500 for one at Monterey; by March this year a #1959 car sold for £60,000 at RM in Amelia Island. To top it all, at Monterey in August a #1961 example - sold as a pair with a #1957 #Multipla - made an astonishing $231,0 (£ 140k).

    The Fiats and Minis have always carried a premium, but just look at the asking prices for the ‘man in the street’ models. They may not be nudging £100,000, but try to find a #Citroen Mehari in the UK for under £ 10k. Likewise, 1960s Mokes are routinely £15k-plus. Same story with #Renault 4 Plein Airs. Playtime is over.

    'Twenty years ago, you could pick up an Amphicar for little more than the price of a decent Triumph Vitesse'
    Clockwise, from main: #1962 Mini beach car sold at Bonhams' Quail Lodge auction in August; Philippe Starck's Fiat Shellette made £33k.
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