The value of provenance: autumn 2018 car auction highlights

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Ali and McQueen connections help drive up historic car auction prices on both sides of the Atlantic

On the Belgian coast, bidders at Bonhams’ Zoute Sale (October 4-7) had a ringside seat as Muhammad Ali’s 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Convertible sold for more than £116,000 – double its estimate.

Two records were also broken at Zoute. The 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Pininfarina Coupé, a winner of the Zoute Concours d’Élégance in 2014, sold for £874,523, more than £150,000 over estimate. And the 1962 Aston Martin DB4 ‘Series V’ Vantage Sports Saloon, one of 17 left-hand-drive examples, sold for £991,465 – a record for the model.

Rarity was the order of the day, with one of 14 1956 Elva Mk1/B sports racers – formerly driven by acclaimed Alfa Romeo historian Maurizio Tabucchi – selling for £127,110. As Elvas go, this – raced extensively in the United States in the 1950s and ’60s – is one of the most unusual and few are in such good condition. The buyer might well have a stunning investment, if they can keep it in immaculate condition.

And a 1951 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Villa d’Este Coupé, one of 36 such models and eligible for the Mille Miglia, fetched a staggering £406,755.

A participant in the 1945 and ’55 Mille Miglia events, a 1954 Fiat 1100 TV sports saloon finished 115th in its second year of competition and 11th in class. ‘TV’ in this case stands for ‘Turismo Veloce’, which means that this Fiat was given a 14bhp upgrade by the factory to give it a 50bhp output. It also has a single spotlamp on the grille and two-tone paint. Its new owner, who acquired the car for £133,212, will hopefully compete in historic events.

Much more aggressive in its appearance were a 1973 UK-registered BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’, which sold for £157,614, and a 1983 Renault 5 Turbo 2 that fetched more than £91,000.

Memorabilia included a host of children’s cars, headed by a De La Chappelle-bodied BMW 328 Roadster that fetched more than £20,000, a grand more than a 1957 Lamborghini tractor. In all, 82 per cent of lots sold and nearly £7,000,000 was spent at the sale – the sixth of its kind in Zoute.

Across the Atlantic, Bonhams’ first sale at the Barber Motorsports Museum, Alabama, featured items once owned by Steve McQueen.His 1970 Bell helmet, white with McQueen emblazoned on the side, raised almost £17,000 but it was his 1970 Husqvarna 400 Cross, ridden by him in the film On Any Sunday that stunned bidders with an eventual price of £177,326.

Breaking the world record for a Windhoff, the 1928 Windhoff Four fetched exactly the same amount as the Husqvarna and an immaculate, iconic 1974 Ducati 750 SS, sold for more than £105,000.

McQueen’s or not, all of the automobilia sold in Alabama, including Mike Hailwood’s 1971 racing leathers (nearly £13,000), a helmet from early on in his career (£2884), and numerous posters and pennants from the Daytona 200.

Totals from the October 6 sale reached nearly £1.2 million.

More recently, RM Sotheby’s Hershey sale in Pennsylvania, United States – where the eponymous confectioner is headquartered – had 94 per cent of all lots sold with a total of $10,999,096 changing hands.

Selling for almost half a million dollars, a 1930 Cadillac V-16, which was sold to the Italian Count Labia after being displayed at the 1930 London Motor Show, made its way around the world before being restored by a Penn State collector. It topped the auction and beat its estimate by $50,000.

The longest bidding war, however, was reportedly reserved for a 1911 American Eagle Touring, which sold for three times its estimate at an eventual $242,000.

After all that, one would be forgiven for needing a tipple. How about a dram of 1926 Macallan Valerio Adami, which headlined Bonhams’ Whisky Sale in Edinburgh on October 3? One of just 12 bottles, Italian artist Adami produced the designer label and it is not known how many samples remain unopened. This particular drink sold for £848,750 – a new world record for whisky.

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