Bonhams Quail Lodge 2013 – Auction Report

Bonhams, Quail Lodge, Carmel Valley, California, August 16, 2013

Report and photos (unless noted) by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

Quail Lodge (let alone the $29.6 million sale of the Mercedes-Benz W196 at Goodwood in July) is ample evidence that Bonhams has raised its game.

They have declined to exist in the shadow of the blockbuster auctions of RM and Gooding while having H&H and Artcurial nip at their heels in the UK and France.

There is a new generation of specialists at Bonhams — Evan Ide, David Swig, Jacob Greisen, and Eric Minoff — balancing the old hands Mark Osborne, Nick Smith, James Knight, Rupert Banner and their leaders Malcolm Barber and Robert Brooks.

Bonhams discarded the erratic split commission structure of past years (17% of the first $100K, 10% over $100K) for a comprehensible and competitive flat 10%.

Rupert Banner ascended the podium at Quail, intermittently supported by David Swig’s articulate and informed introductions for selected cars. Rupert brought a new dynamic to the block, not least in his occasional insistence that “I’m in charge” and refusal to accept paltry bid increments.

This auction went faster (but it could go faster still to retain its pace) and the results in many cases speak for themselves.

The Bonhams specialists are committed car guys – you only have to talk with Evan Ide about the American Underslung to get that message – and they are on their game.

Bonhams [& Butterfields, as they do business in the States) has a convoluted history arising from Robert Brooks’ defection from Christie’s to form Brooks Auctioneers in the late Eighties. The acquisition of San Francisco-based Butterfields from eBay and the country auctions of Phillips in the UK created a cross-market auction house that lost its motor cars’ focus that even the assimilation of Malcolm Barber’s Sotheby’s team and the Christie’s Motorcar Department didn’t affect.

That loss of motor car focus seems, if Quail is any indication, to have been overcome and Bonhams’ presence as an important player is welcomed back into the panoply of American and international collector car auctions.

Good job, guys.

Let the numbers speak for themselves.

Bonhams Quail Lodge
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est
Sold > High Est
Average Sale
Total Sales
Chg from prior year
92 / 78
96 / 55
129 / 62
102 / 79
103 / 60
77 / 43

Bonhams Quail Lodge 2013 – Auction Report

1929 Packard 640 Custom Eight Roadster
Lot # 104 1929 Packard 640 Custom Eight Roadster; S/N 168397; Engine # 168376; Dark Green, Black fenders, Vermillion accent/Brown leather; Tan cloth top; Estimate $90,000 – $120,000; Older restoration, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $115,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $126,500 – Rumble seat, luggage rack, dual sidemounts, Red wire wheels, wide whitewalls, spotlight, wind wings, single Pilot-Ray, radiator stone guard. Sparton three-trumpet air horn under hood – Engine oily, with coolant leak corrosion on cylinder head. A quality old restoration with age, use and good if not consistent care. Sound paint, chrome, interior, glass and top. Some thin chrome, particularly on windshield frame. Chassis and engine evidence age and mileage. Doors close smoothly and fit flush. Door and hood edges are nicked from use, but not excessively. Top fits tightly and is only lightly soiled. Upholstery is good. With a little work this will be a great tour car. Not running – Sold by Bonhams from the Richard C. Paine Seal Cove Museum collection in 2008 for $144,500 and apparently untouched since, the seller did well to come this close to breaking even. (photo: Bonhams)
1914 American Underslung Model 644 Four-Passenger Touring
Lot # 105 1914 American Underslung Model 644 4-Passenger Touring; S/N DR134479; Grey, Black fenders/Dark Red leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $550,000 – $700,000; Older restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $680,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $748,000 – RHD. Nickel trim, Warner speedometer, Phinney Walker clock, folded trumpet bulb horn, wind wings, dual rear mounted cloth covered spares, white tires – Ex-Harrah’s. Well restored there before being sold in the third Harrah’s auction and a 2006 AACA National First Prize winner, then toured. Runs like a train. Has a lovely patina – Bonhams’ specialist Evan Ide was more than effusive about the power, handling and performance of this monster and his enthusiasm must have translated to the bidders. A great old American automobile with a superb old Harrah’s restoration, it is worth every penny of its not inconsiderable price. (photo: Bonhams)
1964 Morgan +4+ Coupe
Lot # 106 1964 Morgan +4+ Coupe; S/N A5558; Engine # CT23992ME; Dark Blue, Red/Red leather; Estimate $180,000 – $220,000; Recent restoration, 2+ condition; Not sold at Hammer bid of $130,000 – Chrome wire wheels, three Herwins rally timers, Lucas driving lights, Marchal headlights – Excellent paint, chrome and interior. Restored in 2007, very nice two-tone paint with only light surface scratches, good brightwork with some minor discoloration to rear bumper, some visible corrosion on inside of front bumper, excellent wheels, newer radial tires, small amount of wear to driver seat, windshield shows several small chips. Engine uprated to dual Webers and Super Sports 140hp specs. No longer in top concours condition, but still ready to show or rally, a show quality restoration to like new condition with better cosmetics – Rarely seen on the market, although this is the second +4+ to appear at a 2013 auction. Bidding fell short of the example seen in January by more than $50,000. The +4+ is widely regarded as the car that saved the traditional Morgan when its radical redesign was received so poorly that only 26 were built before Morgans realized their established customers were loyal, even fanatical, about preserving the Morgan legacy and returned to the company’s traditional design. A significant piece of Morgan history, but a branch that fell far from the tree, the +4+ has limited appeal and perhaps the only in-market +4+ shopper had already scratched their itch.
1910 Peerless Model 29 Park Phaeton-Victoria
Lot # 109 1910 Peerless Model 29 Park Phaeton/Victoria, Body by Brewster; S/N 16124; Engine # 5095; Brewster Green, Black patent leather mudguards/Black leather, Beige cloth; Black leather top; Estimate $300,000 – $350,000; Older restoration, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $160,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $176,000 – Atwood Peerless acetylene headlamps, Dietz Empire Junior sidelights, Atwood kerosene taillight. Single rear spare, quarter elliptical leaf springs, contracting band rear brakes, platform rear suspension, Peerless bulb horn. Front and rear mudguards appear to be original – Acquired from tobacco heiress Doris Duke by James Melton. Later owned by Dr. Sam Scher and Richard C. Paine, Jr. Dark Green wood spoke wheels. One of only two known to survive, the other is in The Henry Ford, and has been since 1935. A high quality old restoration that shows its age but also the quality of its materials and workmanship by its survival in such exemplary condition. Undated AACA National First Prize plaque on radiator. Pegasus radiator cap. Very unusually shaped headlight housings. Not running – Want to go on a Sunday afternoon excursion through your gardens? This is the car Doris Duke created for just that purpose. It’s had limited use throughout its history and benefits from the attentions of early collectors James Melton and Dr. Sam Scher who between them may be credited with conceiving the concept of ‘restoration’. Still deliciously original, this car was sold by Bonhams from the Paine/Seal Cove Museum collection in 2008 for $469,000, a price much more appropriate to its quality, presentation, originality and history than the paltry sum it brought here. This is a great bargain in a great car and the new owner should be justifiably proud of both the car and the deal. (photo: Bonhams)
1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 BN1 Roadster
Lot # 118 1954 Austin-Healey 100/4 BN1 Roadster; S/N BN1L/157169; Engine # 1B213876M; Spruce Green/Green leather; Green leatherette top; Estimate $95,000 – $125,000; Recent restoration, 2+ condition; Hammered Sold at $92,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $101,200 – Silver painted wire wheels with Dunlop RS5 blackwall tires, woodrim steering wheel, 3-speed with overdrive – Freshly restored, better than new and superb paint and bodywork – This BN1 Healey is a solid value for the money, a car that is correctly done to exceptionally high standards throughout. It is unlikely that the restoration could be duplicated for the amount paid for it here and it is a car the new owner can be unusually proud to own and drive.
1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster
Lot # 121 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster; S/N 19804210003202; Engine # 19898210000164; Light Green, Green hardtop/Red leather; Dark Green cloth top; Estimate $1,100,000 – $1,400,000; Recent restoration, 2- condition; Hammered Sold at $1,300,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $1,430,000 – Body color wheels, Michelin blackwall tires, two tops, luggage, alloy block, disc brakes, Euro headlights – Thoroughly and accurately restored with strong paint, bright chrome and attractive interior. Handsome underhood but done to quality driver standards – An unusual and attractive color combination that caught the bidders’ attention along with this car’s late specifications and quality restoration. The new owner paid full retail for the 300SL, but also got an exceptional example.
1966 Ferrari 330 GTC
Lot # 124 1966 Ferrari 330 GTC, Body by Pininfarina; S/N 09125; Engine # 9125; Metallic Burgundy/Beige leather; Estimate $475,000 – $550,000; Older restoration, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $500,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $550,000 – Borrani wire wheels, modern radial tires, Blaupunkt AM/FM, A/C, P/W – Excellent trim, panel fit and paint. Beige leather is barely used. Chassis is orderly. The ruby red metallic is an eye-catching shade and compliments the 330’s shape well. A nicely-restored 330 GTC ready for both show field and road – Offered at Russo and Steele’s Monterey auction a year ago in essentially the same condition as it is in today, the seller passed on a reported high bid of $365,000. The result today is an extreme example of the breathtaking escalation in values of 330/365 GTCs in the past twelve months.
1925 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif
Lot # 125 1925 Locomobile Model 48 Sportif; S/N 19131; Engine # 19139; Olive Green, Black fenders/Black leather; Beige cloth top; Estimate $150,000 – $200,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $150,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $165,000 – Wooden spoke wheels, blackwall tires, hydraulic lever shocks, Bausch & Lomb drum headlights, rear view mirror, dual windshields, folding footrest, dual rear spares behind luggage shelf, 3/4 elliptical rear leaf springs, folding rear windshield with wind wings and canvas skirts. Accessory “Amoco Vapor Lubricator”, four-note exhaust whistle, 103 hp 525 cubic inch T-head six – Stiff, dry old upholstery and trim. Folding windshield, single vacuum wiper. Dull nickel on windshield. Oily. dirty original chassis. Very complete, solid and returned to running, driving condition recently – Sold by Bonhams from the Richard C. Paine, Jr./Seal Cove Museum collection in 2008 for $161,000 unlike other cars re-offered here the Loco has been brought back to good running and driving condition. It is a monster, with torque like a locomotive and a steady, solid originality that is remarkably appealing. There may be better ways to spend this much money on a car, but it is a challenge to think of them. This is a serious automobile of the highest quality that hasn’t been tempered by the restorer’s touch.
1908 Sharp Arrow Runabout Recreation
Lot # 126 1908 Sharp Arrow Runabout Recreation; Engine # 2108; Ivory, Maroon undercarriage/Maroon leather; Estimate $80,000 – $120,000; Facsimile restoration, 4 condition; Hammered Sold at $48,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $52,800 – RHD. Rushmore acetylene headlamps, cowl-mounted Rose searchlight. No acetylene generator, tank or plumbing. 393 cubic inch L-head four, Stromberg carb, Locomobile 3-speed, front semi-elliptical leaf springs, shaft drive, 3/4 elliptical leaf rear springs, dual rear spare tires only, cylindrical bolster tank made of galvanized steel sheet, no fenders – The Sharp brothers were from Trenton and worked with the Roeblings before Mercer was established. This car was most likely built up around a Sharp 393 cubic inch, L-head dual ignition 40 ALAM hp four-cylinder engine. Aged but reasonably sound old restoration. Paint chipped and peeling. Undercarriage shows use and age – Sold by Bonhams from the Richard C. Paine, Jr./Seal Cove Museum collection in 2008 for $183,000 and hasn’t gotten any better with age. The Sharp brothers played an integral part in the Roebling family’s automobile endeavors and this is a rare and significant recognition of their craftsmanship and vision. It isn’t, at least in the present vernacular, ‘real’ but it is real enough when the big four is unleashed and rumbling down the road. This is a modest enough price for a window into early American sports car development. (photo: Bonhams)

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  1. Roger sent this inquiry to the SCD mailbox: I’ve just enjoyed your latest weekly update. The photos and reporting are excellent. Any reason the headline car from the Bonhams Quail Auction this year was not reported on? It was their top sale lot and significantly contributed to their huge improvement from 2012 total sale results.

    The answer gets to the challenges in covering auctions, particularly five auctions over 11 sessions in a 4-day span. In the case of Bonhams’ sale of Lot 152, the 1931 Bentley 4 1/2 Liter Supercharged LeMans tourer s/n MS3944 for $4,225,000 hammer, $4,647,500 with commission the answer simply is that every time I headed over to write it up, so did prospective buyers. They surrounded the car and it seemed like most of the time were driven off on a test drive. I never got the chance to make appropriate observations and take notes. It was probably the most demonstrated car in the sale (and seemed to run extremely well.)
    However, not having had the chance to get a close look at it long enough to take appropriate notes I chose not to include it in the narrative report.