Price record broken

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Sometimes you can’t predict what sole-survivors will sell for

When extremely rare cars come up for auction, it is usually quite hard to put an estimate on them. The final price is decided more by how many people are bidding rather than what the car is really worth. Bonhams recently sold the world’s oldest surviving Rolls-Royce for a record £3.9 million when their estimate was a paltry £1m. The auction house isn’t to blame – how could they predict how keen bidders will be?

To most of us, paying such a sum for four wheels, which may or may not be driven, seems ludicrous. It depends entirely, however, on how you look at it. A Gulfstream G550 private jet will set you back $60m (£29m) and there are more than 124 of those. The Rolls starts to look affordable, until of course you learn that the entire Roman Empire was sold at auction in 193 AD for 6250 drachmas – an extremely rough calculation takes that to about £700,000 in today’s money. Admittedly there was probably more upkeep with the Empire and the highest bidder, Didius Julianus, was killed two months later.

The moral of the story? Take a car’s estimate with a large pinch of salt and never under-estimate what a one-off or a rare car might fetch. Certain makes of car are well known for doing exactly this. Obviously Rolls-Royce springs to mind but also that Italian marque, la Ferrari. One car which might and hopefully will surpass its estimate in the coming weeks is a 1956 Ferrari GT. Number 0553 is featuring in the Gooding and Company auction on January 19 and is one of the seven pre-production ‘low roof’ all-alloy cars bodied by Boano. Although the 250GT was conceived as a road car, 0553 has been race and rally prepared and houses the original engine earning it the Ferrari Classiche Certification (whereby Ferrari certifies that the car is original and correct for a substantial sum). For this piece of Italian history, the estimate is $950,000-1.2m (£460-580,000).

The day before, RM Auctions is selling a 1952 Glöcker-Porsche Roadster by Weidenhausen. This, the third of the Glöcker Porsches, won the 1952 German sportscar championship with Walter Glöcker’s cousin Helm behind the wheel. The car has been raced on and off over the past 50 years and has recently undergone a full restoration. This player in Porsche’s early story has an estimate of $1.6–1.9m (£775-920,000).

This same auction also features the third of three factory competition Cobras. The 1963 Shelby AC Cobra, chassis number CSX2011, was the first of the trio to be sold to the public and went on to race from 1963 through to 1971. It is estimated to achieve somewhere between $1.75m and $2.25m (£848,500-1m).

Perhaps one of the most interesting auctions in the coming months is the H&H sale on February 28. A 1967 works Austin Mini Cooper S, a 1964 works Morris Mini Cooper S and a 1935 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300 Pescara Spyder are all due to go under the hammer.

The ’64 Morris Cooper S, registered CRX 90B, was raced in that year’s RAC Rally by Paddy Hopkirk and was rebuilt by the works in 1966. It is described as being in excellent overall condition and is expected to fetch £40-45,000.

The Austin Cooper S, registration OBL 45F, was a circuit racer which competed in the 1969 Brands Hatch International Meeting and was then rebuilt for the 1969 Tour de France where, driven by Hopkirk, it finished first in class and 14th overall. The car has been restored to its Brands Hatch 1969 specification and has an estimate of £30-35,000.

The Alfa Romeo was built specially for Benito Mussolini and was delivered to Il Duce in August 1935. The car raced in the Mille Miglia the following year where, despite fuel troubles, it finished third in class and averaged 93.111kph (57.858mph). The general consensus is that Alfa Romeo made only 60 6C 2300 Pescara cars, of which this is the sole known surviving Spyder. The estimate on this one is £600-800,000.

Other cars of interest in the coming weeks include a 1966 Lola T70 Spider (£200-250,000) and a 1970 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RS to RSR specification (POA), which are featuring in the January 12 Coys auction.

There is certainly no lack of machinery coming up for sale over the next few months, and don’t be surprised if particularly rare cars go for well above their estimate. Some of them might even be more interesting than a Gulfstream and easier to handle than the Roman Empire.

Around the dealers
Competition cars currently for sale here and abroad

Benetton B190-04
Chassis B 190-04 was driven by Nelson Piquet in 1990 and left the factory in 2000 when Benetton disposed of its Formula 1 cars. In 2005 it was completely rebuilt to its original specification with a Cosworth HB 3.5 V8 engine, and has been tested extensively. The car is race-ready and is eligible for various historic Formula 1 championships, where it would be a serious contender for honours. A large selection of spare parts can be bought at extra cost, the price depending on the parts required. 145,000 euros. Tel: 0033 477 200 190. Contact: Florent Moulin, www.florentmoulin.com

Ferrari F93A 3.5 V12
Chassis 113 was campaigned by Jean Alesi in 1993, finishing second at the Italian GP and third in Monaco. It comes with everything needed to run the car, a spare set of wheels and an entry to the official Ferrari demonstration at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix in May. POA. Tel: 020 7591 0127. Contact: Jonathan Kaiser, www.carsinternational.com

Bizzarrini 5300 GT
Fully restored in 2005 by Foxcraft Engineering as an FIA Appendix K period F historic racer. With a 460bhp, 327cu in Chevrolet V8, it has been raced across Europe by Bill Wykeham and John Bendall and won the GD Masters series. It is in pristine condition and ready to race. POA. Tel: 020 7385 3377. Contact: Bill Wykeham, www.wykehams.co.uk

Aston Martin DB4
This well-known front-running DB4 Lightweight, chassis number DB4/129/R, is complete and ready to race. The car has a 4.5-litre engine producing 400bhp and 350lb ft of torque, and is equipped with a full harness, T45 rollcage, dry and wet tyres, and an integral fire extinguisher system. POA. Tel: 020 7401 8008. Contact: Peter Stratford, www.astonlondon.com

Auction diary

January 12/20 Barrett-Jackson, Greatest Collector Car event, Scottsdale, Arizona. Tel: 001 480 421 6694

January 12 Coys, Autosport, Grand Prix, competition, touring and rally cars and collectors items, NEC, Birmingham. Tel: 020 8614 7888

January 16/20 Russo and Steele, Scottsdale, Arizona. Tel: 001 602 252 2697

January 18 RM Auctions, vintage motor cars, Phoenix, Arizona. Tel: 001 519 352 4575

January 19 Gooding and Company, Scottsdale, Arizona. Tel: 001 310 899 1960

February 9 Bonhams, Retromobile, Paris, France. Tel: 020 7468 5801

February 15/17 RM Auctions, The Florida Collector Car Auction, Greater Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Tel: 001 519 352 4575

February 26 H&H, Automobilia, The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse. Tel: 01925 730630

February 26 BCA, Classic Cars, Blackbushe, Surrey. Tel: 01252 877137

February 28 H&H, Cars, The Centaur, Cheltenham Racecourse. Tel: 01925 730630

March 8 RM Auctions, Vintage motor cars, Amelia Island, Florida. Tel: 001 519 352 4575

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