Text: František Vahala, Foto: Retro Garáž
There are not so many classic cars auctions in Czech republic. We mean, historically. First auction was held here after 1990 and we are still talking about few events per (several) years. Why is that? We are lacking tradition of exchanging cars (there are some auctions concerning art for example, but basically not cars) through auctions. We are very used to direct selling objects of our desire via personal contacts, specialised magazines and more recently, web sites.
For example, we have concept of online platform called Auctomobile, but as mentioned before, there are also some other attempts in auction territory, but with more traditional concept of small auction associated with larger event. For example, before covid pandemic, one small auction was held as part of Classic & Racing Expo exhibition in Prague. Was it success? We cannot confirm that – there were only ten youngtimer classics in the offering and only three cars were sold (one transaction later cancelled). That is not really the way how to do a good auction… But to be honest, this attempt was only small part of whole exhibition/sales weekend event, in addition held by one subject with relatively no marketing support in home country nor abroad. I would like to mention one more point: it wasn’t really clever to try to sell B-class youngtimers via this channel, because younger audience is not that used to this process.
Anyway, you can make a picture about situation in Czech republic. Few months ago, there was another exhibition called Retro Garáž taking place in Lysá nad Labem, small city close to the Prague. It should be nothing unusual at all – a normal sales exhibition of classic cars, accessories, spare parts and some „bric-a-bracks“. But! Main manager Pavel Kočí started those events with one purpose only: to establish functional auction based on personal contact (or/and telephone bidding). Main manager understands, that locals are not acquainted with complicated auction houses conditions, so he make it really easy – winner of the auctions pays only the final price with no taxes, no additional fees or anything else. All conditions of Retro Garáž can be found here.
One interesting thing is also the focus on traditional pieces of history from former Czechoslovakia, meaning all those small motorcycles (basically sometimes more or less bicycles with engine) and old domestic cars like normal Škodas etc.
At this point, you must understand, that there is big difference between Czech classic car environment and rest of world: our collectors are really going hard after cars from communist era and Škodas are on the top, raising their values in dozens of percent per year. Interest is huge, growing up last decade almost as fast as value of property in central Prague. Normal collector from France or Netherland would never pay that much money for some Škoda 120 L or some cars from East Germany (Warburg, Trabant and others), but Czechs do. There is a lot of sentiment in that behaviour and I can provide a proof.
Pavel Kočí did organise few auctions and he always sold out the stock. I mean stock of 10 items, but that is not the point. It does not really matter if Jawa 50/21 Pionýr was sold for 30 000 CZK (almost 1200 eur) or you would put down 57 000 CZK (2230 eur) for Stadión S11, but there was real shaking in the scene because of one particular Škoda 100 de Luxe and its final price. To give you whole picture: this car occupied only one line (from two pages) in Oldtimer Markt Preise annual publication. Ok, it has gone through some major evaluation during last five years (+ 75 %), but you can buy good example for 120 000 CZK (4600 eur).
And then there is this one green example from 1974 in totally original condition with 1607 km on the clock, moreover export version for Swedish market. We cannot say a word: it was really in amazing shape, which is ultra rare itself. Bidding was started at already high 350 000 CZK (13 700 eur), reserve was established to 800 000 CZK (31 300 eur). And Czech folks on social networks went crazy in the comments… Firstly, there were three people fighting for it, later only two remains. However, fight of egos and nostalgic memories continues until this poorly drivable car changed owner for 1,85 mil CZK (72 300 eur)! We don’t need to add, that this is new record not only for period correct Škoda model, but also maybe the most expensive Škoda car ever sold publicly! Until now, record was held by Škoda Rapid from 80ties in rare cabriolet version, sold for 599 300 CZK (23 500 eur).
We all know, that this one green Škoda 100 de Luxe is solitary example, but there are some hints about state of Czech classic car scene. Of course, you could still buy some of those old Škodas for reasonable money, but you can also see the hunger for well preserved cars in original conditions. Even those, let´s say it gently, ordinary. But when common sense is in game, you never want to end up with almost-like-new Škoda from 70ties, which you cannot basically drive anywhere… And spent an fortune on it!
There is a bubble around Central Europe market. And inside, there is group of people willing to spend so much money for old cars with no advanced design nor engineering, just from nostalgic reason. Foreign collectors can shake their hands, but it is a fact. Interesting, isn’t it?
Check new stock from Retro Garáž over here.