It’s Japan month on Speedhunters, so we’ve thrown sleep in the trash bin and scrolled through our collective phone contacts and Instagram discover pages, and fired up Google Translate to talk to all of our friend’s via Line app. The result? Dino is sick of me asking him questions and Mark’s exported so many images in the past couple of weeks that his computer now sounds like the Starship Enterprise.
At Tokyo Auto Salon, the honourable people at BH Auction had some rather fantastic race cars going under the hammer. Kohey Takada kindly arranged access for Mark and I before the sale took place; we only had about 15-minutes to walk around whilst the vehicles were being placed, but the result was a handful of images and a thought-provoking chat.
Looking at the cars on offer, what you quickly realise is that BH really is a car auction for car people, by car people. For me, this felt more like pieces of art were being prepared for auction. This is Japan, of course, so the cars are given space and, going back to what I was saying about the recent RWB meet, less is more.
Going to a car auction is the nuts. My first taste of buying cars in this way was near where I grew up. Leominster Car Auctions was a weekly treat back in 1999, and I remember going along one night with my friend who won a Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo for the princely sum of £300. That’s about $395 for our readers over on the other side of the pond. It was a manual model, too. Bloody Nora, the ’90s were mad – a Z32 for less than the monthly payment on my F80 M3!
But if the 1990s were fairly loony, then 2020 is positively off its head. Car prices are wild these days and that’s for many reasons, one of which is that back in the ’90s, cars weren’t particularly cool. If you were into anything automotive you were a bit of a geek. Chances are, if you’re reading Speedhunters and have got this far into my ramble, then you’re a bit of a geek, too.
I’ve got so much time for the geeks, the drivers and the people who would still be building and driving cars if the internet stopped tomorrow. I’ll be honest, though, I am bored of seeing people buy cars to show off. Flex culture really turns me off certain types of cars, and that’s why seeing the vehicles on offer by BH Auction is an absolute breath of fresh air.
Take the 880hp Ferrari F1 car that Gerhard Berger piloted back in 1987 – I can understand why someone would want to own this piece of history. Likewise, I can also get my head around why this car has real value; you get to look at something that has an incredible story, and, because of this, it also serves as a museum piece. If this ’87 F1 car ever comes back out to race, it’s a bonus.
Last year’s BH Auction was a sight to behold, but seeing cars like this ’95 BMW 320ST that raced at the Nürburgring and Spa 24-hour races, before they went up for sale, was really quite special. Look inside – things were more simple back in the ’90s.
That’s the thing, BH produce car auctions with real class. Their way of doing things really is art meets car buying. Although we were only in the space for a quarter of an hour, those 15 minutes left us with lots of questions.
Was it better when cars weren’t ‘cool’? Should people who buy fantastic road cars and never drive them be taken outside and shot? Will Mark let me sleep next time we go to Japan?
I don’t have the right answer to any of these questions, mainly because this is a subjective topic.
What I do know for sure as the sun will rise in Japan and set somewhere else, are these two things:
1. BH Auction is always a pleasure to witness; you simply do not know what to expect.
2. You, the Speedhunters reader, is never shy about showing your point of view in the comments section. Go on, be my guest and get stuck in below…
The results of the sales are available in full over at BH Auction.