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“If you have the right cars and offer a good service, buyers will come to you,” said Simon Hope, one half of H&H (with Mark Hamilton). “We get buyers from across the world, but a lot of vendors don’t want to send their cars up north, so we are coming to them.”

H&H are taking on the big boys, and on their home turf, having secured Olympia 2 as the venue for their first London sale of cars, bikes and automobilia on May 7. With Sotheby’s upstairs, and Bonhams holding an autumn sale at the same venue, the newcomers seem remarkably unfazed. “We’re not into rival-bashing, but we are proud of the service we offer, and we do it at half their rates – five per cent for vendors and 7.5 per cent for buyers,” said Mr Hope.

“We celebrate our 10th anniversary this November, and it’s gone better than we ever thought, so it is a natural time to expand. We aim to hold two sales a year in London, but need a different venue in the autumn as Olympia rules forbid ‘competing’ sales taking place within six months of one another.”

That could leave Sotheby’s squeezed out of their own home if, as is thought, they re-enter the car scene, after an absence of four years.

Former ceramics department head Peter Arney recently left Sotheby’s after 21 years to set up a classic car consultancy: Coachbuilt Cars Ltd. “We aim to offer a consultancy and brokerage service to people who want to buy or sell classic vehicles,” Mr Arney said. “We will offer impartial advice, but will be working with Sotheby’s as some cars may be sold at house sales.

“Given the right circumstances, collections of cars could once more be auctioned under the Sotheby’s banner.”

Coachbuilt Cars Ltd can be contacted on 020 7976 5222.