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PROFILE


Sadly, SA’s auction business isn’t as vibrant as it is in the USA, says Joff van Reenen, Director and Lead Auctioneer of The High Street Auction Company in SA. He expects that to change in the coming years and says used vehicle company We Buy Cars already shifts 4 000-5 000 vehicles a month through auctions, or roughly 50% of its stock.


CLASSIC DRIVES With a local heritage extending


more than 50 years, Toyota SA has its fair share of iconic cars in its possession. Many of them are being preserved at the museum at the Johannesburg head offi ce.


2000 GT The two-seat sports coupé – with its


excitement, just as a horse-race or football match wouldn’t be as thrilling if the commentator weren’t becoming frantic. The style of patter changes


according to what he’s selling. “You have to be a chameleon,” says Mast. “You can’t sell classic cars the same way you sell real estate – you have to change your chant, as well as your speed and style.” The “chant” is the auctioneer’s patter, marked by a particular rhythm and cadence. “For classic cars, it’s pretty traditional to have an English chant, but I use a very American, very fast, upbeat one with very high energy. You’re also slurring a lot of words. Instead of asking: ‘How many?’, you might say: ‘Howmny?’ It creates a rhythm, like the way you tap your foot to music. It keeps you engaged, keeps things fun and keeps things moving along quickly. We might have 1 800 cars to sell in a few days, so we have to move very fast and methodically.” Besides, we’re not supposed to


understand everything he says, because much of the time he’s speaking in code to the spotters – his colleagues who scan the audience for bids. You might think an auctioneer has his eyes everywhere, but often there are far too many people for him to monitor. There might be 20 000 people in an arena, with anyone likely to bid at any time. Each spotter has a specifi c area to watch and signals to the auctioneer when someone in their turf bids. “It takes quite a bit of co-ordination and communication between the bid spotters and the auctioneers to know whether you’re in, whether you’re out, whether you got in fi rst or second – it’s like conducting an orchestra,” he says. Many people buy these cars as


investments, while others want the pleasure of actually driving them. The stock market also infl uences


26


beautiful, curvaceous lines – was jointly developed by Toyota and Yamaha, and only 351 units were produced from 1967-1970.


investment car purchases. “If the stock market’s really strong, the collector car market can dip because people put their money into stocks. When the stock market goes down, people invest their money in cars because they don’t want to lose it. They put it into something that they enjoy, they can drive and they can touch and feel. They know their money’s in something solid.” The most compelling reason to sell


valuable assets by auction is that you get the highest price. With a traditional sale, you put a price on something and the buyer negotiates you down, but in an auction, bidders are negotiating upwards – particularly if two people compete against each other in a bidding frenzy.


The example that’s in the care of


Toyota SA was imported to this country in May 1968 and was originally painted in Pegasus White. It’s unclear when it received its red coat, but it was initially used by Toyota SA’s founder Dr Albert Wessels’ daughter, Elizabeth (later Bradley) as a daily runaround. Nowadays, the 2000 GT is widely


acknowledged as a seriously collectable motoring icon. There are only two in the country and they’re each valued at over R10 million.


LEXUS LFA “We didn’t just make a super-car –


we made history,” Lexus famously announced. It took more than a decade to produce the Lexus LFA, which set the stage for all Lexus performance vehicles that followed. Limited to just 500 units, only three of which are in SA, the two-seater super-car is valued at about R6 million.


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