One thing that the classic car auctions of the past month have demonstrated is that, for those prepared to wait, bargain buys are cropping up in the salesrooms on a more regular basis than they have done for years. It’s all relative, of course. A car that’s seen as a bargain today certainly won’t be as cheap to buy as it was 15 years ago, but there’s a definite sense that the fun might be returning to the classic game. By that I mean that the number of opportunities to take a punt on something you weren’t necessarily looking for, but which won’t bring on fears of bankruptcy, appears to be growing. A case in point was lot 77 at Bonhams’ MOH September sale, a 1965 Alvis TE21 which had been in single ownership for 30 years and was up and running but in need of tidying.
Honestly and modestly described (slight oil leak, heater valve disconnected, etc) it looked like the type of car that any buyer could have driven away in with confidence, yet it sold for just £9281. That makes it the least expensive fully operational manual gearbox TE21 I have seen at auction for 20 years
There should be more such steals as the European winter draws in. Right now, it’s worth keeping your eyes open.
1967 Lotus 49 F1 recreation (above)
Sold for £26,036. Historics
Ask a baby boomer what image springs to mind when talk turns to 1960s F1 racing and many will say Colin Chapman’s Lotus 49, specifically painted BRG. The Matchbox version I had as a kid was one of my most coveted vehicles, so much so that I’m tempted by a mint-condition example on eBay for £50. I’d prefer this recreation, however. A Honda Blackbird engine, Mazda MX-5 running gear and a six-speed sequential ’box make it mechanically up to date, but the looks are pure ’67.
2007 Gemballa Mirage
Sold for £562,908. Bonhams
Those who found the Carrera GT lacking, tuning house Gemballa released an extra 60bhp from the 5.7-litre V10. This example had covered fewer than 3000 miles and been in long-term storage. What’s that saying about money and sense?
1984 Ferrari 308 GTS
Sold for £40,500. H&H
This nicely maintained 308 was once owned by godfather of punk Iggy Pop. In a recent interview, the 73-year-old recalled that he “drove the s**t outta that car” but sold it in 2002 after being stopped for speeding. Pop later appeared in car-insurance commercials on British television.
1953 Kurtis 500B
Sold for £425,000. RM Sotheby’s
This was the last of eight 500B race cars to roll from the workshops of the Colorado-born builder Frank Kurtis. It contested the Indianapolis 500 on three occasions, achieving third in 1955.
It has been returned to period-perfect condition.
1969 Morris Mini Cooper
Sold for £16,875. Bonhams
This genuine MkII Cooper appeared well used, well loved and well driven. Used as a race and rally car it had all the features of a competition Mini, including white roof, bonnet straps and auxiliary lights. A great car, well bought.
1985 Pulse Litestar Autocycle
Sold for £12,400. RM Sotheby’s
Enough to fulfil anyone’s Dan Dare fantasy, the Litestar was the idea of aircraft designer Jim Bede; 360 were built from 1984-90. Although equipped with four wheels, it qualifies as a motorcycle. This one had an 1100cc engine.
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