Bonhams’ Mercedes-Benz Sale 2014: Highlights from the 12m-euro auction

The debut collaborative sale between Bonhams and Mercedes-Benz was a success, despite some star lots failing to sell. The pre-War faction did extremely well, and a 1976 Unimog achieved a record price…

With a 70% sale rate and total revenue of almost 12m euros, Bonhams’ Mercedes-Benz Sale, held at the Mercedes Museum on July 12, was largely positive. The highest-price sellers were the numerous pre-War cars among the near 50 lots, in particular the 1934 500K Special Roadster, which achieved the top individual price, of 3.1m euros. The car’s Swedish owner donated the money to cancer and Alzheimer’s foundations – a nice touch. The second-highest price of the auction, at 2.2m euros, was for a 1936 540K Cabriolet. Achieving 471,500 euros, meanwhile, and almost quadrupling its 110,000-150,000 estimate, was the oldest car in the entire sale, a 1901 Benz Ideal 7HP Twin Cylinder ‘Contra Motor’ Vis-à-vis.

Never a surefire sell

Important classics are never a surefire sell, as shown when the 300 SL Gullwing that Moss and Jenks used as a reconnaissance vehicle for the famous 1955 Mille Miglia failed to sell. The final bid of over 2m euros (including buyer’s premium) was just not enough for Bonhams to sell such an exceptional classic.

Other prominent lots did solidly fulfil their estimates, however, with Mika Häkkinen’s DTM racing car making 460,000 euros and Chen Yi’s 600 Pullman fetching 172,500 euros. The ex-Madonna 560 SL surpassed its 43,000-52,000-euro estimate, making just under 70,000 euros, and a 1976 Unimog doubled its estimate, selling for 82,800 euros: a new World Record. 

The 10 top results from the Mercedes-Benz Sale

Lot 16: 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 K/540 K (factory upgrade) Special Roadster €3,105,000
Lot 29: 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A €2,242,500
Lot 39: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 'Gullwing' Coupé €1,380,000
Lot 15: 1958 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster €920,000
Lot 21: 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet €690,000
Lot 38: 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 Nürburg Offener Tourenwagen €517,500
Lot 10: 1901 Benz Ideal 7hp Twin Cylinder "Contra-Motor" Vis-à-vis €471,500
Lot 23: 2005 AMG-Mercedes- C-Class DTM Touring Car Racing Saloon €460,000
Lot 30: 1938 Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet A €368,000
Lot 19: 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet €195,500