Racers that are going, going, gone
The last vestige of what was MG Sport & Racing Ltd went on the block on Saturday March 26. With 950 items ranging from a box of X-Power T-shirts to Bonneville Land Speed Record cars on offer, interest in the Wyles Hardy & Co sale saw the Groveley Lane Birmingham premises (next to the old Longbridge factory) swamped with bidders from around the globe.
Auctioneer Matt Hardy said: "My job is to make as much money as possible to pay the creditors." With several entries comfortably exceeding their reserve, he more than managed this. Among the unusual entries was the remarkable MG X-Power ZT-T 785 (above). Built by famed hot rod builders, the So-Cal Speedshop, with input from designer Peter Stevens, this 765bhp Roush-Ford V8-powered device recorded 225mph on Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, in 2003, breaking the world speed record for estate cars in the process. It was knocked out for £13,700: a bargain as long as you know how to pack parachutes (it has two of them) and don't mind waiting an hour and a half for the oil to warm up.
Another (would be) record breaker was the badly monikered MG Bonneville 98 5.0L, built to compete in 1998
Unfortunately it famously couldn't be made to run properly –– or at all –– but was still sold for £34,900.
Also on sale was the MGTF '500', a unique Cosworth-engined track car (guide price £20-25,000) that made £9,800, plus a one-off ZT V8 480bhp Belcup enduro saloon, the last race car to be built by the Sports and Racing Division (£30-40,000), that reached £25,525.
In February sales, Christies' Rétromobile auction raised £2.3 million in total, with the ex-Ecourie Ecosse Jaguar C-type, as raced by Ian Stewart, accounting for £942,650. Artcurial's sale on the same weekend saw a 1983 Lancia LC2 Group C weapon reach £273,312 and a gorgeous 1967 Alpine A210 hit £181,290.
H&H had another good event with its inaugural sale at Cheltenham Racecourse, although many of the racers failed ot find new homes. The headlining 1963 Le Mans class-winning AC Cobra 289 didn't change hands, despite a bid of £625,000. The ex-Beltoise Matra MS120-B and EMKA Group C car similarly didn't sell.
A mystery Cooper (above), believed to be a Type 51, is to be sold by H&H at its Syon Park sale in Isleworth on May 24. It's thought to have been hillclimbed during the early 1960s, possibly with Chevy V8 power, and has only recently been unearthed after 39 years in a Scottish Nissen hut.
Star entry is a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Kombination roadster. One of only 40 or so special-bodied 500K's ever made, it was ordered new by fighter pilot William Rhodes-Moorhouse DFC, who commissioned Windovers to create the unique and fabulously extravagant cabriolet coachwork it wears to this day. More details on the sale are available on 01925 730630 (or log on to www.classic-auctions.com).
A fresh addition to the RM Auctions' Brucker Collection sale at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California on May 13-14 is one of two Howmet TX turbine cars. Chassis 001, as raced by Dr Dick Thompson and Ray Heppenstall, is said to be in original 'timewarp' condition although no reserve has been released as we go to press: It would make a very cool (hot?) entry for Classic Le Mans in 2008. More information is available on 001 800 211 4371 or visit the firm's website, www.rmauctions.com.
Brightwells' Herefordshire sale on May 10 is taking shape with a very early Porsche 911 among the lots. Built in 1964 and fully prepared for historic rallying, it's one of the first 230 made and is believed to be an ex-works rally car, although this hadn't been substantiated as we closed. More recently it has been set up and driven by Walter Röhrl and raced on the Tour Auto by actor and occasional competitor Rowan Atkinson. Other historic racers include a 1960 Le Mans works-style Austin-Healey Sprite. Further details are available from James Dennison on 01568 611122 (www.brightwells.com)
Early entries for Bonhams & Butterfields' Massachusetts sale include a gorgeous 1951 Ferrari 212 Inter coupé with period competition history along with an ultra-rare '63 Porsche 356 Carrera 2 and a highly desirable '62 Chevrolet Impala SS muscle car with a 409cu in V8. More information on www.bonhams.com/us or call 001 415 391 4000.