Bonhams MPH cleared for take-off at Bicester Heritage

Bonhams MPH cleared for take-off at Bicester Heritage 10th June 2019

A new, wholly-owned division of the Bond St house will offer “modern and affordable classics” from premises on the former WW2 airfield at Bicester. The first sale conducted by the new set-up – headed by Bonhams regular Rob Hubbard – will be held on 26 September 2019.

The idea behind MPH is to bring low-cost sales of mostly sub-£50k classic and modern cars under the Bonhams umbrella as a counter to the success of Historics, CCA and others. Sellers’ premium is fixed at 5%, buyers will pay 12.5%.

By handing the entry process over to vendors – uploading sales descriptions, photos and asking prices online – costs are reduced, although the office will monitor the texts for accuracy and be the final arbiter for pricing. The base’s former guard house, complete with cells, will become the Bonhams MPH team’s HQ. However, the punishment for traders declaring ‘RUNS NICE. MANY MOT’S. FIRST TO SEE WILL BUY’ has yet to be set. A month on bread and water, at least.

Vendors can choose one of three levels of service. Bronze (£125 listing fee) is the most basic, rising through Silver (£175) to Gold, at £300, where MPH’s professional photographers are available on-site for the very best possible presentation.

Each of the planned four sales a year will include 100 to 150 entries. All will be driven over the block at Bicester Heritage's Hangar 113 and there will be an evaluation and photography day at the end of every month. A simple printed catalogue will be augmented by an expanded description with more photos online.

When asked if the new set-up would impact on Bonhams' traditional sales, James Knight, Bonhams Executive Director and Motoring Group Chairman, said it wouldn’t. Neither did he accept that at this level such events should be US-style auctions without reserve. “You can’t expect the owner of a much-loved MGB to let it go at any price. It works in the US with the greater distances involved, as the vendors won’t want to take it back again, but not in the UK.”

And these will always be physical events; the step to a purely online auction platform is, for the time being, one too far.

For further details, see mph.bonhams.com

Note: This was the author’s first visit to Bicester Heritage. For those yet to attend a Sunday Scramble or to see one of the many specialists on the site, we cannot recommend it highly enough. See bicesterheritage.co.uk