The Market


Pre-War cars to the fore at Bonhams’ £6.6m 2022 Festival sale

Pre-War cars to the fore at Bonhams’ £6.6m 2022 Festival sale 25th June 2022

A smart new rostrum flanked by state-of-the-art screens gave Bonhams’ traditional auction at the Goodwood Festival a more up-to-date feel. Interest at the 77-car event focused, though, on older models: top-selling car was a 1937 Frazer Nash-BMW 328.

The right-hand drive British market (hence Frazer Nash-BMW) 328 was much viewed pre-sale and was a well-known car in British vintage circles, out of single ownership going back to 1950. It eventually sold below low estimate; RHD likely limiting its potential market. Coming from the same consignor, the companion Frazer Nash-BMW 315 DHC and 319 Cabriolet were fun restoration projects sold in the mid-£20ks with premium.

Towards the close of the auction, all eyes were on the ex-works 1938 RAC Rally Jaguar SS100. A desirable 3.5-litre from new, the dark red car presented well with typical British ‘VSCC patina’. However, a pre-War expert who viewed the car earlier in the week told us it required ‘the full works’, including a repaint to original gunmetal. Given its provenance, original UK number plate and potential as a top-level events car with all-important ‘big’ engine, the eventual price of £425,500 incl. premium was probably fair all round. Estimate: £400k to £600k.

At a glance:
* Gross, motor cars: £6,617,898 (2021 £7,181,907)
* Percentage sold by number: 64% (2021, 61%)
* Top-selling car: 1937 Frazer Nash-BMW 328 £636,600 gross, £555,000 net (est. £650k to £750k)
* Well sold? Another good result for a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG when the 2011 coupé went for £178,250 gross against its £100k to £150k guide. And this figure does not include the customs duties and form-filling required to bring the Swiss-spec, Middle East-sourced car into the UK or EU
* Well bought? Saleroom notice about its engine notwithstanding, the DB4 Convertible, or maybe the super-cheap modern ex-Force India F1 cars

It wasn’t all plain sailing for pre-War entries: the 1931 Invicta ‘Low chassis’, restoration project 1931 Aston Martin Team Car (below) and 1934 Bentley 3 ½ Litre Open Tourer failed to sell.

While on the pre-War front, auctioneer Malcolm Barber paid a poignant tribute to the late Peter Blond, whose family, present in the tent, had consigned his three Rolls-Royces and a Bentley. All were cars the true connoisseur had enjoyed for many decades, often driving them to business meetings in London and club events throughout the land. It was a touching moment in an often “how much can I make on it?” world.

Later in the sale, Italian motorcycle legend Giacomo Agostini took to the stage to introduce the charity auction of the first MV Agusta 798cc Superveloce Ago Limited Edition (below), which raised £52,900 to benefit the UNICEF Ukraine emergency fund.

In May 2015 Bonhams sold actor Sir Peter Ustinov’s old 1962 DB4 Series 4 Vantage Convertible for £1,513,500 and the car required at least sympathetic restoration. The 1962 DB4 Convertible offered yesterday, formerly owned by another knight of the British theatre, Sir Peter Hall, achieved £588,440.

Originally smart Midnight Blue with dark blue hide, the now red/tan open Aston with valuable hardtop was apparently sold at a discount, but why? Here are three reasons: its current presentation in unloved red; the rollercoaster ‘DB’ market in 2022; and doubts over the originality of its engine, never a problem 30 or 40 years ago when the all-alloy ’sixes were regularly replaced due to cracking. “Has it got a new block?” meant something very different in 1984.

A modern Aston Martin DBS Superleggera (above) featured in the 007 film No Time to Die sold for £414,000 gross. The Marcos 'raced' by 'Roger Templar' in The Saint was bid to the lows £50ks but went home unsold.

The cover car £1m+ Benetton F1 car failed to sell, and without this and the 2015 McLaren P1 GTR by Lanzante (est. £1.8m to £2.2m) finding new owners the gross was never going to set records; the whole event was more one of treading water.

Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival, 24 June 2022 – results (2020)

Total gross cars: £6,617,898 (£7,181,907)
Number of cars not sold: 28 (24)
Number of cars withdrawn: 1 (2)
Total number of cars: 77 (61)
Number sold: 49 (37)
Percentage cars sold by number: 64% (61%)
Percentage by value average low/high estimate: 38% (39%)
Percentage of cars sold below low estimate: 51% (81%)
Percentage of cars sold not met avge of estimates: 71% (86%)
Percentage of cars sold met/exceeded top estimate: 20% (8%)
Average year of cars offered: 1970 (1970)
Average price of cars sold: £135,059 (£194,106)
Percentage of cars offered at No Reserve: 31% (11%)

Photos by K500