Bonhams Simeone Museum 2013 – Auction Report

Bonhams “Preserving the Automobile” Simeone Foundation Museum, Philadelphia, October 7, 2013

Report and photos by Rick Carey, Auction Editor

In its second iteration this venue is proving to be a successful niche for Bonhams.

The site, of course, is superb. Surrounded by Dr. Simeone’s magnificent collection of racing cars from both pre- and post-war eras that demonstrate his determination to promote the preservation of historically-significant automobiles, the atmosphere is just right.

Bonhams always has an assortment of automobilia to kick off its sales and at the Simeone museum it was bigger than usual – much bigger. In fact it was too big and dragged on and on well past the scheduled 2:30 start date for the automobiles. Dragged on until well after 4, which was too late.

The attraction for Bonhams not only is its vast reservoir of automobilia consignments but also the 25% buyer’s premium charged on the automobilia. It goes a long way to offsetting reduced buyer’s premium income from their recent reduction in the automobile commission to 10%. In this case it probably far exceeded any haircut taken on the automobile buyer’s commission, such was the size of the automobilia consignment.

[The automobilia included items from the late Alec Ulmann, founder and Chief Steward of the Florida International Twelve-Hour Grand Prix of Endurance – the Sebring 12 Hours in which your scribe risked the approbation of his wife by purchasing a $3,200 (plus $800 commission and 8% Philadelphia sales tax) lot of three boxes of old Sebring files, time sheet books, correspondence, programs and clippings. As it turns out, it is worth every penny.]

The 2013 sale was very similar to last year in both content and results. The unusual disparity between the average and median transaction reflects the consignment, a few high quality, high priced cars and a number of lesser – in many cases restoration project – cars that sold for modest amounts. Ten of the 55 sold lots brought four-figure prices, even with commissions added. Only eight sold for hammer bids of six figures with the top sale (Lot #542, the ex-Bill Cosby 1934 Aston Martin 1 1/2 Liter Sports) hammering sold at $240,000, $264,000 with commission.

This sale is a timely idea in an exceptional setting and establishes a positive tone for the events of the next week in Hershey. It would not be at all surprising if a lot of the automobile went straight from Philadelphia to the Hershey swap meet.

Bonhams Simeone Museum
Cars Offered / Sold
Sale %
Sold < Low Est.
Sold > High Est.
Average Sale
Median Sale
Total Sales
2013
66 / 55
83.3%
58.2%
9.1%
$49,764
$25,300 [50.8%]
$2,737,030
2012
62 / 50
80.7%
56%
20%
$51,534
$25,875 [50.2%]
$2,576,695

Bonhams Simeone Museum 2013 – Auction Report

1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SEL 4.5 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # 504 1972 Mercedes-Benz 280SEL 4.5 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 10806712004644; Dark Green/Cognac leather; Estimate $10,000 – $15,000; Unrestored original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $26,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $28,600. No Reserve – Automatic, A/C, P/W, Becker Europa AM-FM, underdash 8-track, wheel covers, narrow whitewalls, fog lights – Surprisingly original with only 14,720 miles. Waterspotted largely original paint, very good original upholstery, interior trim and wood. Stainless trim is spotty but will polish out. – Attracted, and deserved, a lot of attention. Most similar cars have been driven to near-death, but this is choicely original and well preserved, a car that will be owned and driven with pride and deserved the premium price it brought. It couldn’t (and wouldn’t) be restored to this nearly impeccable condition for three times the price it brought.
1980 Ferrari 308 GTSi, Body by Pininfarina
Lot # 506 1980 Ferrari 308 GTSi, Body by Pininfarina; S/N ZFFAA02A4A0033545; Red/Black leather; Estimate $25,000 – $35,000; Unrestored original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $21,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $23,100. No Reserve – Alpine cassette stereo, A/C, P/W – 61,359 miles from new. Good original paint and upholstery showing limited age and use. Interior plastic trim is old and grubby. Underbody is original and used. A surprisingly good and sound original 308. – It won’t take much to make this 308 GTSi an object of pride. At this price it has only upside for its new owner, a very good value.
1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # 507 1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud I 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N LSHF85; Engine # LSHF 85; Masons Black, Red coachline/Red leather; Estimate $30,000 – $40,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $19,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $21,450. No Reserve – Automatic, A/C, narrow whitewalls, fog lights – Owned by socialite Francoise Hermann. Largely original with some parking lot dimples and repairs evident but presentable. Tired old repaint, fair chrome and stainless trim. Good upholstery, replaced in the front. Dirty original engine. Not pretty, but sound and honest. – Unfortunately Francoise Hermann has to be explained and that negates the value of her ownership of this Roller. It brought a realistic price for what it is.
1931 Hanomag 3/16 Coupe
Lot # 508 1931 Hanomag 3/16 Coupe; S/N 20254; Engine # 20285; Grey, Black fenders/Light Green cloth; Grey Canvas top; Estimate $20,000 – $30,000; Unrestored original, 4+ condition; Hammered Sold at $19,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $21,450. – Winkler windshield post mounted trafficators, disc wheels, folding roof with fixed window frames, drum headlights, sliding door windows, fixed quarter windows – Largely original and complete with a crappy old preservative paint job over old paint on the wood body. Sound but soiled and stained upholstery. A restoration project but it will be a cool thing when it’s done, and won’t be complex to do. Said to run well. – Bought for $18,700 at the Dragone Brothers auction in Westport in May and freshened since, this all that its astute owner could expect. It is a cute little thing and will attract plenty of attention on any show field.
1952 Hudson Hornet 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # 509 1952 Hudson Hornet 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 7B183883; Engine # 183883; Black, White roof/Grey vinyl, cloth; Estimate $35,000 – $45,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $26,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $28,600. – 308/160hp Twin-H dual carburetors, overdrive 3-speed, pushbutton radio, remote spotlight, whitewalls, hubcaps, trim rings, original clock tag, radio manual, service book, owner’s manual, workshop book and even the key fob – Cracked old repaint, peeling chrome, good stainless, sound but aged original upholstery. A sound and original example of Hudson’s factory hot rod. – This Hudson is a hunk. It’s fast, well maintained and not too pristine to be used, nor tired enough to warrant restoration. A real car for real money.
1946 Buick Special Series 40 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # 511 1946 Buick Special Series 40 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 34392617; Black/Beige cloth; Estimate $8,000 – $12,000; Unrestored original, 3- condition; Hammered Sold at $5,500 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $6,050. No Reserve – 3-speed, pushbutton radio, hubcaps, trim rings, blackwall tires, skirts – Probably has covered only the 50,408 miles showing on its odometer. Pimply original paint, chipped and buffed through to primer on the left front fender. Good original upholstery, dull stainless, peeling chrome. Dry, dirty underbody. A sound and complete largely original car. – A car of little intrinsic appeal beyond its sound and original condition. The price it brought reflects its mundane specification and coachwork but on the other hand is a charming and inexpensive way to venture into car collecting. Someone spent more than this on two boxes of Hispano-Suiza files.
1911 Stoddard Dayton Model 11A 5-Passenger Touring
Lot # 513 1911 Stoddard Dayton Model 11A 5-Passenger Touring; S/N 11A162; Engine # 11A278; Dull Brown/Beige canvas over Black leather; Black leatherette top; Estimate $125,000 – $175,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3+ condition; Hammered Sold at $135,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $148,500. – RHD. Dual right side spares, C.M. Hall acetylene headlights, kerosene cowl lights and taillight, nickel headlights, wood spoke wheels, blackwall tires, brass Warner Auto Meter – A quite wonderfully preserved, largely original, exceptional automobile with overhead valves and hemispherical combustion chambers. Original leather seats are covered by custom-fit snap on canvas covers, top replaced. Dull original paint. The model for how to preserve an historically important automobile. – A hugely impressive automobile both intrinsically and in its preservation and presentation that drew lots of admiring attention from the spectators and bidders. Bought reasonably enough a little bit over Bonhams low estimate and something the new owner should be very proud to own.
1956 Bentley S1 4-Dr. Sedan
Lot # 515 1956 Bentley S1 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N B242DB; Shell Grey, Cellon Blue/Light Blue leather; Estimate $16,000 – $20,000; Visually maintained, largely original, 3 condition; Hammered Sold at $18,000 plus commission of 10.00%; Final Price $19,800. No Reserve – RHD. Automatic, cassette stereo, fender mirrors, badge bar, fog lights, hubcaps, trim rings, narrow whitewalls – Mostly original with a good repaint, good chrome and upholstery. Some interior soft trim is aged and starting to crack; interior wood is sound. The underbody and engine are clean and orderly, not restored. Odometer shows 52,324 probably original miles. – A handsome, well maintained and usable car that demonstrates the appeal of Bentleys and brought a reasonable price.

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  1. Really enjoy your descriptions and realistic evaluations. Don’t care what brand of after-market radios are installed and please don’t pick on Rhode Island– —they already feel inferior.

  2. Thanks for the compliments, but you’re going to keep learning what kind of radio is in the cars. Surprisingly, there are reasons.
    1) The brand (or off-brand) of radio, like the brand of tires (and whether they match on all four corners) says something about the seller’s concern for quality and willingness to cut corners.
    2) Naming names, even of minor details like the brand of radio, tire or mirror, confirms the impression that someone actually looked and took the time to integrate even small details into the report.
    As to the treatment of Rhode Island? I live 15 minutes’ drive away and frequently drive to Warwick to fly from PVD, one of the best airports in the country. It’s a great state for us overly-taxed Nutmeggers to buy gasoline and oysters. Now that I’ve said something complimentary, can I continue to mention Little Rhodey’s well-known deficiencies, like size?