29th June 2003 Bonhams Sale of British Motor Industry Heritage Trust - Review

Bonhams did their usual thorough job at Gaydon last weekend to clear the unwanted cars from the British Motor Heritage Trust, and while it would not be accurate to claim that a sectioned 1975 Morris Marina 1.3 SDL Coupé now sits alongside a Ferrari SWB in a Swiss collector’s air-conditioned garage, some cars went for significant sums including the 1910 Austin 18/24hp Endcliffe Tourer for £91,700 including premium.

More than two thousand people visited the Heritage Motor Centre at Gaydon on Sunday, for the Bonhams sale of selected British motor cars. The sale of 65 vehicles from the car collection attracted bids and collectors from as far afield as Japan, Scandinavia and the USA. The auction realised a total of £476,263 in bids in less than three hours.

With classics, such as, Austin, Riley, Wolseley and MG marques being offered at no reserve, together with sectioned 'cutaway' training vehicles, it seemed that everyone wanted to walk away with a slice of British motor history. Bids opened briskly in the two salerooms - specially opened to accommodate the large number of visitors to the auction. There were a number of absentee bidders and others on the telephone, which encouraged the prices.

Stephen Laing, Curator of the museum at the Heritage Motor Centre added: "This was a new experience for us here and we are very pleased with the results. Although we have sold 65 vehicles, we will still house the world's largest collection of British motor cars here at Gaydon. The funds raised will be reinvested in the museum and archive library by the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, to bring other British marques into the collection in the future and therefore give a better representation of the whole of the British motor industry."

Bonhams' Director of UK Motor Car Sales said: "This sale broke a number of records. From the attendance, the number of registered bidders, the number of absentee bids, and for the cars themselves. It was a pleasure seeing so many new bidders at the sale, complementing our existing clientele, and those who had not previously attended an auction were enthusiastic with their bidding. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day for everyone."

Top price achieved was a surprising £91,700 for the 1910 Austin 18/24hp Endcliffe Tourer, against an estimate of £30,000-£50,000. This superb example of an Edwardian Austin was first registered to Sir Henry Beyer Robertson, of Corwen, Merioneth, on 25 May 1910 on unusual plates FF 1. In 1950 this car was acquired by the Austin Motor Company and after a lengthy battle between two bidders in the saleroom, the Austin was acquired by Phoenix Venture Holdings - owners of the MG Rover Factory at Longbridge. The company also bought the 1927 Austin Seven 'Top Hat' Saloon for £12,880 and both of these vehicles will be included in their historic car collection as part of their centenary celebrations next year.

The Scottish-built 1906 Albion A2 16hp Wagonette which fetched £36,700, and was sold to an absentee bidder. This beautiful vehicle is one of seven surviving examples of this model known worldwide, and is the only one with this distinctive Wagonette body.

The last Mark II 2001 Range Rover 4.6 HSE - North American specification, sold for £33,925, while the last Series 1 Discovery a V8i ES, with just 44 miles recorded, fetched £18,400, selling to a telephone bidder, using a satellite phone on a transatlantic flight.

The last Maestro off the line sold for a surprising £7,475 against an estimate of £2,000-£3,000, whilst a 1999 Mini '40' Limited Edition Saloon fetched £13,225.

For a full listing, see the Provisional Auction Results