Bonham’s Goodwood sale shows there’s no decline in racing car interest
Goodwood Revival showed its dapper droves of spectators that historic racing cars deserve their attention, and Bonhams’ auction at the event on September 8 proved the point.
Perhaps it won’t race at the Revival anytime soon, but an ex-Tom Walkinshaw Racing 1990 JaguarSport XJR-11 Group C Sports Prototype – one of three built for the World Sports Car Championship that was driven by Martin Brundle, Alain Ferté and Jan Lammers – fetched seven figures still dressed in its unmistakable purple ‘Silk Cut’ livery. Although Brundle later called it the ‘worst car I ever drove’, the new owner clearly didn’t mind its middling performance, acquiring the car for £1,191,000.
More likely to appear would be the 1964 Shelby Cobra 289CI Competition Roadster, one of just 32 built by the factory for competition. It was campaigned by entrepreneur Tom Payne in period, who earned podiums at Nassau against the likes of Roger Penske, Phil Hill and AJ Foyt before the car changed hands and was restored to concours condition in 1985. Estimated to fetch up to £1,500,000, this one sold for £1,359,000 – a new European record for Shelby – at the Revival having taken £1,176,000 at a RM Sotheby’s sale in 2014.
But there were two cars with incredible stories that didn’t sell at the Revival.
The 1963 Lotus Cortina MkI Competition Saloon sporting ‘166 RUR’ plates, one of two that made the Cortina’s racing debut at Oulton Park that year – this one at the hands of Trevor Taylor – didn’t find a new owner. ‘166 RUR’s alumni include Dan Gurney, Jim Clark, David Hobbs and Peter Arundell and it was estimated to fetch up to £250,000. The 1962 Ecurie Ecosse Tojeiro, powered by a Buick V8 and driven by a budding Jackie Stewart, didn’t sell either having been touted to fetch half a million pounds.
As for its historic racing credentials, the 1955 Rolls-Royce Phantom IV State Landaulette sold for £800,000. It had one previous, careful lady owner: The Queen. And a 1972 Ferrari 246 GT ‘Dino’ Coupé owned by rock royalty Keith Richards – of Rolling Stones fame – sold for above estimate at £442,750, a claimed world record for the specification.
Also offered at the Revival was a museum’s worth of memorabilia. Registration number ‘RR 1’ made headlines prior to the auction as it was expected to eclipse the £518,480 that ‘25 O’ fetched in 2014; ‘RR 1’ eventually sold for £460,000, however – still a world record for a numberplate at auction.
Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren race overalls from the 1994 Formula 1 season weren’t ever going to fetch six figures, but they still sold for a handy £2375; a steering wheel once owned by Jim Clark sold for £4375, and three signed photographs of Mike Hawthorn took £1250.
RM Sotheby’s London sale at Battersea on September 5 featured the steering wheel from Alain Prost’s Ferrari 641 (sold for £4200) and a Ferrari F2003 cylinder head signed by Michael Schumacher that sold for £19,200.
That F1 cylinder head fetched more than the £12,000 paid for the last kart that Ayrton Senna ever drove at his São Paulo farm in 1994 – weeks before his death at Imola.
Leading the lots was a 2003 Ferrari Enzo that sold for nearly £2million and a 1953 Ferrari 212 Pininfarina-designed Europa Coupé that took just above £1million.
A 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8 may seem relatively unassuming, but as one of just three right-hand-drive models with original engine and just 20,000km from new on its odometer, it found a new owner for £933,125.
Many machines left RM Sotheby’s lot unsold, however.
Formerly owned by Jim Clark, a 1962 Lotus Elite Super 95 is still for sale, as is a 1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 – one raced by rhythm and blues musician Chris Barber at the 1958 AMOC St John Horsfall meeting.
Another summer of car events is over and there’s change in the air for the auction market, says Max Girardo
The start of September marks the end of the summer car event season. The final four weeks of summer are always the busiest for both car enthusiasts and auction companies. With at least one event per week, taking place from California to Chichester, I racked up the air miles and lost sleep to attend as many of these events as possible.
The Ferrari 250 GTO that was sold by RM Sotheby’s for a record-breaking $48.2m was most definitely the talk of Monterey week in America, but what I found more interesting were the Duesenberg SSJ sold by Gooding and Company and the Ford GT40 sold by RM Sotheby’s. The Duesenberg, which came from long-term ownership, exceeded expectations when it sold for $22 million, and even better, it went to a great collection. Whilst on the more modern end of the spectrum was the Ford GT40, which came 3rd overall at Le Mans. I think it was a very good buy at $9.795 million, and I’m happy to see it go to an important collection of Fords.
Just a few days later, back across the Atlantic, Salon Privé opened its doors in collaboration with Blenheim Palace, while Hampton Court Palace Concours of Elegance opened the following day. Whilst there weren’t any auctions taking place at these events, they’re great opportunities for car collectors to share their cars with the rest of the world and for enthusiasts to learn about them.
Three days later, the RM Sotheby’s annual London sale took place in Battersea Park, and as mentioned in last month’s column, I was concerned as to how the results would fair. And for good reason. With a sell-through rate of just under 60 per cent (including aftersales) and £9.4m in total sales (£1.97m of which came from the 2003 Ferrari Enzo), many cars struggled on the block. This might have been because of how soon it took place after Monterey also the fact that many cars in the sale were right-hand drive, limited their international appeal.
And finally, the very last event of the summer car season was the most-anticipated: the Goodwood Revival. At the Bonhams sale on Saturday, the overall results were perceived to be more ‘upbeat’ than those of RM Sotheby’s a few days earlier. The Goodwood venue definitely helped, but most of the talk circling around the marquee was less about the cars and more about the recent sale of the company to a private equity group. And the crowds sure came out to watch the sale of the Jaguar Mk II, the last car that Robert Brooks sold as chairman and shareholder of Bonhams.
A new era is upon us. It will be interesting to see how the company will be shaped in the coming months and what changes will be introduced by its new owners, who I’m sure will want to maximise on their return.
Max Girardo is the founder of classic car specialist Girardo & Co. Before that he spent 20 years in the classic car auction world, where he was the managing director and head auctioneer at RM Sotheby’s
Max’s top three from Bonham’s Goodwood Revival
Black LaF Aperta: The first ever to be sold at public auction, but with a price tag well over double list price, I wasn’t surprised that it didn’t sell. Modern supercars are desirable but there’s a limit to spending
1964 Competition Cobra: I auctioned off the car at RM Sotheby’s 2014 London sale. It sold for £1.176m, including premium. I longed for it then and still do now. The selling price of £1.359m was exactly what I predicted
ex-Shelby American Fiat-Bartoletti racing transporter: The Cobra’s transporter can’t go unnoticed. Everyone admired it but not all have the license to take it home. It sold for just over £400,000