Bonhams Greenwich 2014 – Auction Report

Bonhams, Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, Greenwich, Connecticut, June 1, 2014

Report by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

Bonhams featured a couple of headline cars at Greenwich, particularly John Fitch’s Fitch Phoenix prototype which John had driven many times down from Lime Rock to the Concours.

The Fitch Phoenix’s thunder might have been overshadowed in the auction results by the $1.2 million Countach Periscopica, but nothing can really diminish the multiple contributions to racing and automobile safety of John Fitch. The quarter-million dollars that the Phoenix brought was in the greatest part due to respect for his immense talent, creativity and initiative.

The next time you spot some plastic barrels, splintered around a lane divider on the Interstate after sparing a motorist from impact with immovable Armco, think of John, whose innovative idea these passive barriers were.

In the same vein, the Greenwich Concours’ impresario, irrepressible Bruce Wennerstrom, brought a new element to the weekend: a flash mob performing choreographed song and dance before the awards ceremony. Greenwich isn’t New York, but it’s close enough that the intersection of Broadway and cars is only a thought away. Bruce melded that thought with the Concours this year and it injected fresh life into an already buoyant weekend of cars, commerce and conversation.

Something similar is probably not going to occur on the Lawn at Pebble Beach.

Bonhams has made Greenwich its own since taking over a few years ago. This is their seventh year at Greenwich, and the cars made their own statement with a singularly large component of preserved (to various degrees) original cars. A few of them got the bidders’ juices flowing, including the Countach Periscopica, and deserved to set new standards for type and condition.

Greenwich is a double-barrel event where a Bonhams catalog is admission not only to the auction but also to the Concours. The greatest concentration of disposable income in the world is less than an hour’s drive in radius, an area with a history of car collecting and preservation that is well over a half century old.

Bonhams Greenwich
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est.
Sold > High Est.
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
104 / 97
$45,100 [55.6%]
100 / 74
$36,300 [50.3%]
90 / 62
$42,120 [49.6%]
82 / 56
$38,610 [56.0%]
78 / 55
$35,100 [66.1%]
89 / 44
$67,860 [67.8%]
49 / 27
$52,650 [55.1%]

There were a lot of neat and affordable cars here in Greenwich, an offering that was largely accessible as indicated by the $45,100 median result. Go to the Concours, get fired up, and buy a car with the potential to participate next year.

Participation in the all-singing, all-dancing flash mob is optional.

[On-site observations are ably contributed by Andrew Newton. The Transaction Comments are solely the responsibility of the Editor. Don’t blame him.]

Bonhams Greenwich 2014 – Auction Report

1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, Body by Pinin Farina
Lot # 310 1958 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider, Body by Pinin Farina; S/N AR149504505; Engine # AR131543835; Red/Black piped in red; Black vinyl top; Estimate $25,000 – $35,000; Unrestored original, 4- condition; Hammered Sold at $22,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $24,200. No Reserve – 1290/91hp, Solex carb, 4-speed, Motorola radio. – Rusty rocker panels, pitted chrome, filthy interior and grubby from top to bottom, but rather complete for a car that was in storage for almost 40 years. Well documented history from when it was delivered new to Max Hoffman in 1958 until it was taken off the road in 1976 with 52,239 miles on the odometer, the same number it shows today. Comes with receipts and the factory tool kit. A major but doable project. – This is an appropriate price for a bereft but largely complete project that could be worth upwards of $60K when it’s done. The good thing about it is that parts, aside from some picky trim items, are readily available making bringing it back to sound, reliable running and driving condition a reasonably straightforward concept.
1970 LeGrand Mk10 Formula Ford
Lot # 312 1970 LeGrand Mk10 Formula Ford; S/N none; Red, White stripe; Estimate $8,000 – $10,000; Unrestored original, 4- condition; Hammered Sold at $6,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $7,150. No Reserve – Steel wheels and uprights, roll bar, slicks, no engine or gearbox. – Body mostly straight with no sign of major repairs. Paint, on the other hand, is cracking and crazing in most places. Decent frame. A cool project to get back to vintage specs, but there are cheaper and faster ways to go racing. – This frame, suspension and body are about what the original LeGrand kit would have looked like in the early 70’s, just add an engine and gearbox and go racing. Wait a minute. Not so fast. This kit needs extensive work to make it functional, let alone safe, at the speeds it is capable of reaching and is a daunting project. It needs, in short, ‘everything’ and will be expensive to finish to current vintage racing specifications.
1947 MG TC Roadster;
Lot # 314 1947 MG TC Roadster; S/N TC3043; Engine # XPAG3624; Black, Red grille/Red leather; Estimate $28,000 – $34,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $26,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $28,600. No Reserve – 1250/54hp, 4-speed, painted centerlock wire wheels, Dunlop tires, rear-mounted spare, driving light, wood dash, banjo steering wheel. – Used but clean engine bay. Strong older paint. Decent chrome. Very good interior. Some light scratches on fenders and a little crazing in the hood. Thoroughly restored in the early 1990s and an AACA and MG T Register show winner shortly after. Driven several thousand miles since and still a good, honest example, but in 2014 it is past its prime. – A TC is a sound and useful buy, particularly at this price. Summer is coming and it will make the season more fun as well as being a sound, safe place to park some liquidity. Take care of it and it will always be worth this much.
1985 Ferrari Mondial 3.2 Cabriolet, Body by Pininfarina
Lot # 315 1985 Ferrari Mondial 3.2 Cabriolet, Body by Pininfarina; S/N ZFFUC15A4F0057179; Rosso Corsa/Tan leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $22,000 – $28,000; Unrestored original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $22,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $24,200. No Reserve – 3185/266hp, 5-speed, Michelin tires, Kenwood radio. – Good paint with some dings around the doors. Worn interior. Bad weather stripping. Top frame and wheels are scratched up. Tires are on their way out. Radio antenna is so bent it looks like it’s about to snap off. Showing just 46,236, probably actual, miles, less than its presentation would suggest. A bad example of a car that was pretty to begin with. – Surprisingly unloved for a car that is so practical, but without evidence of a recent service and qualified by the frightening statement it’s been ‘driven only about 3,000 miles in the last 22 years’ there is much that is uncertain about this Mondial 3.2 and the seller should be extremely happy to get this much for it.
1959 Fiat 600 Jolly, Body by Ghia
Lot # 318 1959 Fiat 600 Jolly, Body by Ghia; S/N 100595511; Engine # 100000648733; Coral/Brown wicker; White cloth top; Estimate $80,000 – $100,000; Recent restoration, 2+ condition; Hammered Sold at $74,545 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $82,000 – 633/28.5hp, 4-speed, BF Goodrich Silvertown whitewalls. – Excellent paint and chrome. Wicker interior is superb. Clean undercarriage. Detailed engine bay. A showable example. Restoration is a few years old and still showing fresh. Titled as a 1960. – Sold at the Auctions America sale in Burbank last year for $67,100, a modest profit was earned while also having a year’s enjoyment. The new owner paid all the money for it, however, even in such fine condition.
1973 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing Utility
Lot # 321 1973 Volkswagen Type 181 Thing Utility; S/N 1833023202; Blizzard White/Black vinyl; Black vinyl top; Estimate $15,000 – $20,000; Original, with major mechanical repairs, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $8,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $8,800. No Reserve – 1584/46hp, 4-speed, Cornell 808 radial tires, roll bar, front push bumper, rear-mounted spare, oak stave floormats. – Rusty hinges under a bad respray that was done in 2003. Top is pretty tired. Rough looking undercarriage and dinged up wheels. Poor panel fit. Tacky bumper stickers that should have been taken off before going to a high-end collector car auction. Would be fun to cruise around the beach in, but nothing to be too proud of. – The Greenwich bidders saw the rat under the hype and bid accordingly resulting in a reasonable price for a needy vehicle. The consignor got exactly what the neglect and lack of pre-auction prep deserved.
1952 Morgan Plus 4 Roadster
Lot # 322 1952 Morgan Plus 4 Roadster; S/N P2616; Black/Red; Black cloth top; Estimate $40,000 – $50,000; Older restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $41,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $45,100 – 1991/105hp, dual SU carbs, Moss 4-speed, chrome hubcaps and steel wheels, dual rear-mounted spares, leather hood strap, single Lucas driving light, dual mirrors, folding windscreen, wood dash, banjo steering wheel. – Tattered top. Plastic rear window is yellowed and scratched up. Tired paint, especially on the fenders. Presentable, lightly worn interior. Decent chrome with some small dings. One of just 117 flat radiator Plus 4s built. An older restoration that is very much showing its age. – Needy, but still a Triumph-engined ‘Flat Rad’ Morgan, and lefthand drive at that. The price makes an MG TD look like a good value, but the Morgan will run rings around it and has that subtle Morgan cachet. This is a healthy but realistic price for a good, sound older restored Morgan.
1963 Maserati 3500 GTi Coupe, Body by Touring
Lot # 323 1963 Maserati 3500 GTi Coupe, Body by Touring; S/N AM1012638; Engine # AM1012638; Amaranto Rame/Tan leather; Estimate $140,000 – $180,000; Unrestored original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $160,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $176,000 – 3485/235hp, Lucas indirect fuel injection, Nardi wood-rimmed steering wheel, 4-speed, Blaupunkt push button radio, Jaeger dash clock, solid frame. – Represented as 31,378 miles from new and original engine. Rough original paint overall with bubbling around the wheel wells and serious chips and crazing on and around the trunk. Tired chrome. Relatively clean engine bay. Pleasant interior that is only lightly worn. The current condition is on the fine line between needing a restoration and being a preserved example. It could be enjoyed as-is for a few years. – There is a considerable ‘originality’ premium in this price, on the order of $35,000. Is that rational or not only time will tell but in the current market it is in line with the percentages buyers are putting down for originality premiums on other cars.
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster
Lot # 325 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster; S/N 11304412022076; Engine # 153624; Tobacco Brown/Brown vinyl; Estimate $55,000 – $65,000; Cosmetic restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $48,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $52,800 – 2778/170hp, automatic, color-coded hubcaps, Cooper thin whitewalls, pagoda hardtop and soft top, heated hardtop rear window, P/S, Frigiking A/C, roll-up windows, Becker Europa radio, dash clock. – Good paint with a couple of small flaws and orange peel in the hardtop. Light scratches on the hub caps. Very good interior. Tidy but not spotless engine bay and undercarriage. Recently refurbished including paint, wood, engine tune and detail, new exhaust and new tires, a sound and usable example in an unusual color. – The new owner got a good car with exceptional equipment that adds up to a very good value. It could have brought well over $50K and still not been unreasonably priced.

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Show Comments (2)

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  1. The quoted fact that the Plus 4 Morgan was one of only 117 is incorrect. That production number is for another model, and rarer, the Flat Rad Drop Head Coupe. Hemmings quotes 1950-1953 “Flat Rad” production, all body styles at 656 cars, so subtracting out the 117 DHCs, leaves some 549 Flat Rad Plus 4s 2 or 4 Seat Roadsters.

  2. Mark,
    Thanks for the heads-up. It does get confusing, but we’ll try to get it straight in the future.