Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 29th March 2019

When classic cars go up for auction, there’s an expectation that they will go for a high price. But it doesn’t happen every time, which is the case with a 1979 Lada Niva that fell well below the estimated value. RM Sotheby’s estimated the car would sell for between £50,000 to £75,000, but it went for a mere £4600 when its no reserve sale backfired.

The Lada had competed in the gruelling 1981 Paris-Dakar rally, though it failed to finish. 4×4 Lada Nivas have gained a cult status for their resilience, and the auctioneers emphasised the car’s history.

Felix Archer, car specialist at RM Sotheby’s went into detail. “the transnational race is renowned to be gruelling and tough, which speaks volumes for the character and resilience of this small 4×4 that took one of the hardest racing events in the world, all the more challenging under older race rules. In the car’s current state, it’s almost untouched since it’s participation in the Paris-Dakar race.”

“If the Paris-Dakar rally was a Goliath of an event, this Lada was its David, facing seemingly impossible odds in one of motorsport’s most gruelling events, where one of its brethren finished third.”  

The Niva wasn’t the only car that failed expectations. An Aston Martin DB4 driven by Peter Seller and a Rod Stewart owned Lamborghini Miura didn’t sell. This was also the case with a 1967 Lamborghini 400GT that had been owned by Paul McCartney.

This is Money’s Rob Hull gave his opinion on why the Lada failed to sell well. “Ultimately, it’s immensely difficult to value some cars, especially those that don’t have a proven sale background to determine demand and price. Estimates on cars like this are often a case of sticking a finger in the wind. Some cars are simply worth whatever someone is prepared to pay, and on the night it seems that was far short of what Sotheby’s expected.”