22 April 2002 Bonhams at RAF Museum, Hendon, London Review

The Bonhams sale on 22nd April offered a good spread of Veteran, Edwardian and Vintage cars, as well as more up-to-date classics. The sale proved a huge success: the vast majority of cars were snapped up by eagers buyers, jostling for space in the crowded, stuffy atmosphere of the auction room at the RAF Museum, Hendon. Indeed, many cars sold for well over their estimates.

I was disappointed to find no cars from 1905 or 1906, only because I was curious to see whether the values of these early Edwardian vehicles have leapt following the change in entry regulations for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Up until now, there has been a massive hike in value between a car registered on 31st December 1904 and one registered on 1st January 1905, since the latter would not be eligible for the Run. From 2002, the cut-off date will be 31st December 1906 - so it is likely that owners of early Edwardians are feeling pretty smug.

The downside of the equation, of course, is that owners of pre-1905 Veterans might be less happy. Now that the pool of potential London to Brighton entrants has grown so emphatically, the value of these earlier cars could see a significant drop.

The star lots on the night were the three cars from the estate of the late Ivor Read. His 1908 Napier 8,650cc 6-cylinder racing car, one of only two known survivors of this racing-type chassis, sold for £89,500. Then Read's 1908 Napier 45hp T23 Open Drive Limousine also sold for £89,500 - against an estimate of £50,000 - 70,000. Finally, his 1925 Vauxhall 30-98 Velox Tourer fetched £70,800: again, well over estimate.

There was one bidder at the sale who found himself an outstandingly good bargain when he bought the 1989 MG "Metro" 6R4 - an 300-mile-from-new example of the outrageous-looking, boxily aggressive, homologation special. Not everyone's idea of a desirable car, certainly, but John Davenport defended its looks with "we could have had a prettier car - that didn't work". The estimate was £18,000 - 22,000, but it sold for £14,375 including premium.

Please see the Provisional Auction Results.


Bonhams' next sale of collectors' cars is on 4th May in Brookline, Massachusetts, USA. As you might expect, there is a heavy emphasis on American automobiles but there are many others besides: such as the ex-Jim Kimberly 1956 OSCA, a one-owner Type 49 Bugatti - and a large number of motorcycles.

Please see www.bonhams.com for details

Text: Charis Whitcombe