Bonhams Bond Street 2015 – Auction Report

Bonhams, Bond Street, London, December 6, 2015

Christmas in London is a festive time [so I’m told by people fortunate enough to have been there] and judging from Bonhams Bond Street sale on December 6 Ebenezer Scrooge’s miasma has been thoroughly diffused by a new generations of free-spending celebrants.

Bonhams neatly configured the Bond Street auction as a boutique sale; just 27 lots of exceptional quality. For discerning collectors the mix of choice classics from Invicta, Bentley, Frazer Nash and Lagonda and Austin-Healeys and Ferraris from the Fifties-made Christmas wishes come true. Santa even had something for newer collectors with late model Ferraris and a McLaren.

Bond Street was followed four days later by a more eclectic sale at the RAF Museum in Hendon. Results were more modest but also made more modestly-fixed collectors’ Christmas wishes come true as well. While the Bond Street sale had a median transaction of $644,921, the Hendon sale’s median was just $41,886 (a Jaguar Mark VIII Sedan.)

It was, however, the median transaction at Bond Street that made the headlines, a beautifully restored lefthand drive (in a righthand drive venue) Jaguar XK 150 3.8 overdrive Drophead Coupe. Its price, $644,921 with commission, is without precedent.

Consider that at Hendon a few days later $129,755 could have taken home a sound, usable, cosmetically restored XK 150S 3.4 Drophead. The difference is quality is material, but the difference in result is jaw-dropping.

Of such anomalies are conundra made.

And it is on the wings of such conundra that we proceed to Arizona in a few weeks…

Bonhams Bond Street
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est.
Sold > High Est.
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
2015
27 / 22
81.5%
47.4%
21.1%
$608,796
$644,921 [105.9%]
$13,393,508
2014
30 / 26
86.7%
40.0%
28.0%
$773,320
$405,181 [52.4%]
$20,106,326

(Bonhams Bond Street auction photography is courtesy of Bonhams.)

Bonhams Bond Street 2015 – Auction Report

1962 AC Cobra Roadster
Lot # 02 1962 AC Cobra Roadster; S/N CS 2030; Dark Green/Black leather; Estimate $377,500 – $528,500; Older restoration, 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $498,300 plus commission of 12.45%; Final Price $560,361. – RHD. 289 high performance engine, headers, chrome wire wheels. – Early AC-assembled Cobra used to develop the rack and pinion steering system. Later front end crashed and burned. Sat for years until it was rebuilt with a new front frame section and replacement body. AC Ace seats, later gauges. Stored for two decades, sound and complete. – Its intriguing history to some extent offsets its record of being comprehensively crashed and rebuilt with various pieces. The price it brought recognizes many of its shortcomings and leaves the new owner financial headroom to make up for the years of storage. A complete restoration would make little sense since it is so flawed relative to many other Cobras. The result here is as much as any reasonable buyer could have paid.
1964 Aston Martin DB5 Coupe
Lot # 04 1964 Aston Martin DB5 Coupe; S/N DB51579R; Engine # 400/1584; Caribbean Pearl/Blue leather; Estimate $604,000 – $679,500; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $694,600 plus commission of 12.33%; Final Price $780,217. – RHD. Chrome wire wheels, radio. – First owned by Rob Walker and possibly just one intermediate owner before the seller. Sound old paint, creased and cracked original upholstery. Stored the last four years and in condition appropriate to the negligible use it has had in the past twenty years. – Resuscitating this DB5 won’t be simple, or inexpensive, which makes the price it brought rather surprising. The buyer (and the underbidder) must have been Rob Walker fans.
1934 Invicta 4½-Liter S-Type Low-chassis Tourer, Body by Carbodies
Lot # 05 1934 Invicta 4½-Liter S-Type Low-chassis Tourer, Body by Carbodies; S/N S165; Engine # 8083; Green/Red leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $755,000 – $906,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $755,000 plus commission of 12.30%; Final Price $847,865. – RHD. Maroon wire wheels, single sidemount, 3rd from last built, Sanction 3 modifications done in ’60s, folding windshield, aero screens, outside exhaust head pipes, driving and fog lights, radiator stoneguard. – Good cosmetics, shows some use and age but also excellent care and maintenance. Typical 4-seat tourer coachwork but on a sleek underslung chassis and scintillating performance from the 4 1/2 liter Meadows six (albeit with a replacement crankcase.) Never fully restored, but consistently maintained by a succession of owners including Peter Livanos and Victor Gauntlett in good, sound, driving condition with sound cosmetics. – Withdrawn from Brooks’ auction in London 10/92 when the estimate was $186-237,000, then sold by Brooks in London in April 1999 for $227,192, slightly below the low estimate, a real driver’s car with advanced chassis and excellent performance that brought a price consistent with its quality, rarity, appearance and performance.
1929 Bentley 4 1/2 Liter Tourer, Body by Vanden Plas
Lot # 06 1929 Bentley 4 1/2 Liter Tourer, Body by Vanden Plas; S/N MR3399; Engine # NX3451; Red/Tan leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $604,000 – $755,000; Older restoration, 3- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $898,450 plus commission of 12.25%; Final Price $1,008,529. – RHD. Red wire wheels, single rear-mounted spare. – Retained by the first owner W.F.P Kelly until 1962 with a period in museum display in France including at Mulhouse. Remarkably original including engine, gearbox and fabric-covered Vanden Plas bodywork. Recently stored for 15 or so years and will need serious attention before being exercised, but all there and in excellent condition for its age. – Sold by Christie’s in London in 1996 for $306,959 when it was acquired by the seller and in essentially the same condition, if older, now as it was then. The result here is a testament to its as-built condition and originality with no small contribution from its preservation by only a few informed, caring owners. It is expensive, but not irresponsibly so.
1938 Frazer Nash-BMW 328 Roadster
Lot # 07 1938 Frazer Nash-BMW 328 Roadster; S/N 85HF260217; Engine # 85HF260217; Silver/Red leather; Estimate $830,500 – $981,500; Older restoration, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $830,500 plus commission of 12.27%; Final Price $932,425. – RHD. Folding windshield, centerlock disc wheels, rear wheel spats, inset enclosed rear spare, hood straps. – First owned by entertainer Billy Cotton, prepared for him for the 1938 RAC Tourist Trophy by Wilkie Wilkinson, three owners since then. Restored by Bristol Cars in 1993 and continuously maintained and updated since with quality paint, chrome, interior and engine compartment. – An important milestone in BMW history, eligible for many of the most desirable events and presented in very good condition, this Frazer Nash-BMW 328’s Billy Cotton history only adds to its desirability. Even at that, however, this is a strong price for an otherwise undistinguished 328.
1955 Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupe
Lot # 08 1955 Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupe; S/N 421/200/206; Engine # 100B23285; Dark Green/Tan leather; Estimate $573,800 – $634,200; Older restoration, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $453,000 plus commission of 12.50%; Final Price $509,625. – RHD. Silver painted wire wheels, fog lights. – Acquired in derelict condition in 1993 by Gordon Willey and subsequently restored to high standards, today it shows little use and only moderate age. Fuel tank has been replaced and is not connected, an indication of how much work will be needed to make it a running, driving car. – The auction history is a little convoluted. I show this car sold at Brooks Olympia auction in April 1992 for $66,516 (GBP 37,400) and a no-sale a year later at Olympia in February 1993 at GBP 25,000. The catalog states it was acquired by Gordon Willey in 1993. It has subsequently been restored to high standards of fit, finish and function so in essence the difference in the acquisition cost makes little difference except to highlight the seller’s astute recognition of a landmark automobile. Eligible for many desirable events, this is a quality car at a healthy but not excessive price.
1932 Frazer Nash TT Replica Roadster, Body by Compton
Lot # 10 1932 Frazer Nash TT Replica Roadster, Body by Compton; S/N 2050; Engine # 11034; Red/Black leather; Estimate $377,500 – $453,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $437,900 plus commission of 12.52%; Final Price $492,713. – RHD. Meadows 4ED ohv 4-cylinder, dual SU carbs, 52hp, cycle fenders, outside exhaust, folding windshield, black centerlock wire wheels. – First used by the Frazer Nash team driven by the youngest of the Aldington brothers at Brighton in 1932, later by Philip Jucker at the first Donington Park meeting. Winner of the 1 Hour Speed Trial at Brooklands in May 1932, then sold to South Africa where it stayed until acquired by the seller in 1966 and restored in the 90’s with a 1929 Meadows 4ED engine. Highly original for its long history, with very good presentation and a car that will be welcomed pretty much anywhere. – Frazer Nash TT Replicas like this early example have innate appeal despite the leisurely performance of their Meadows engines. The compensation is the precise response of their ‘Chain Gang’ transmission and the long stroke Meadows engine’s torque that made them remarkably successful in rallies. No one will mistake it for an MG, or even an Aston, a rare and sexy car that brought a price fully up to its history, appearance and performance.