Bonhams Aston Martin Sale at Newport Pagnell 21 May 2011: Review

1964 Aston Martin DB5, for restoration: Sold for £282,000

Bonhams held its 12th annual Aston Martin Works Service sale on Saturday 21 May, the main servicing workshop at Newport Pagnell playing host to 46 lots of historic cars and a diverse and extensive collection of Aston Martin automobilia and ephemera.

With a sale total of £5.9 million spread across 97% of the total value of catalogued cars, Bonhams’ Jamie Knight had every reason to smile, as he enthusiastically whipped up interest from an audience high on surroundings drenched in the history and nostalgia of the marque.

This year, three ‘barn finds’ took centre stage, the oldest being the first lot to go under the hammer – a 1957 DB MkIII Sports Saloon chassis AM300/3B/1401, noteworthy for being the first production chassis to feature front disc brakes. This car had been stored since 1971 and was presented thus, but it surged through its £15,000-£17,000 estimate to achieve £54,300 (all results given include buyers’ premium).

This rather set the scene for the other two barn finds, principally the star lot of the catalogue, a 1963 DB4 Convertible – DB4C/1104R – one of only 70 built. Originally owned by a professor at Oxford University, the second owner had laid the car up in 1980 when the engine required a rebuild, this specimen hitherto unknown to the AMOC register. Bidding soon careered through the top estimate of £140,000, thrilling the audience as it finally settled at £309,500. Given the cost of renovating this car (certainly expensive), it was another example of buyers prepared to pay whatever is required to seal ownership of a car they could then restore in the manner they see fit.

1963 Aston Martin DB4 Series V Vantage (£507,500), 2004 Aston Martin DB AR1 Roadster (£111,500) 1958 Aston Martin DB MkIII Drophead Coupé: Sold for £184,100

The last of the barn finds was Lot 316, a 1964 DB5 coupé once finished in California Sage but now presented in faded Dubonnet red. Stored since 1976, but complete apart from the missing radio, this also smashed its £50,000-£60,000 estimate as a bidding war developed, with £282,000 finally securing the car.

1955 Aston Martin DB2/4 MkII Drophead Coupé: Sold for £227,000 1954 Lagonda 3-Litre Two-door Sports Saloon: Sold for £45,500

The David Brown-badged cars formed the bulk of the sale lots, with the DB4 being the most numerous. A 1963 Series 5 Vantage with a host of upgrades made significantly over estimate at £166,500, despite the red paintwork not being to all tastes, although the ’62 Series 4 Vantage with 4.2-litre engine in a delicate pale blue shade fetched more, at £188,500. The latter – DB4/940/R – was unusual in retaining the standard DB4 nose treatment despite being to Vantage spec. In comparison, an early ’59 example – the 44th chassis produced and originally delivered to New York in ‘Desert White’ – proved the appeal of left-hand drive by reaching £254,500.

Racier ‘4’s included a DB4GT recreation that seemed good value at £221,500, and the ex-Lord Downe/Mike Salmon ‘RSW Lightweight’ competition car within estimate at £128,000. But the highest achiever of the sale was Lot 333, a stunning, concours-condition 1963 Series 5 Vantage Convertible in Aegean Blue that fetched £507,500.

1955 Aston Martin DB2/4: Sold for £95,000

Great interest surrounded the 1965 DB5 Vantage with shooting brake coachwork by Harold Radford. One of twelve produced, this evocative car had been owned by a father-then-son since 1972, and was keenly fought over until the bidding reached £430,500. Finally, a pair of DB6 Volante models both made exactly £232,500.

Restoration corner: 1963 DB4 Convertible (£309,500), 1964 DB5 Saloon (£282,000) and 1957 DB MkIII (£54,300). The dust and grime are included in the price...

Only the earliest cars failed to shine on the day, with a ’55 DB2/4 Drop Head and Sports Saloon both failing to meet their reserve. On the other hand, the DBS showed signs of increased popularity, with a lovely ’68 example benefiting from a Works Service restoration going over estimate at £106,000. A similar, but V8-engined DBS from 1970 looked correspondingly good value at just £28,750.

1968 Aston Martin DB6 Saloon: Sold for £95,000 2009 Aston Martin Rapide: Sold for charity, £111,500

More recent V8s included a pair of Zagato Convertibles, one of which was once owned by Duran Duran frontman Simon Le Bon and fetched £87,300, while a 1986 Volante modified to POW specification – once a US-market car but now in right-hand drive and benefiting from a Works Service restoration – went for a strong £172,000.

Those with shallower pockets could still find keen deals with later V8s, such as a ’91 Virage auto for £16,675 and the ex-Chris Eubank 6.3-litre Virage Volante unable to reach its lower estimate but still selling for £58,700. Interest was even less in a smart DB7 V12 Vantage that failed to sell at £23,000, although its much rarer, Zagato-bodied AR1 Roadster relation with delivery miles appealed to a collector at £111,500.

1971 Aston Martin DBR2 Recreation: Sold for £100,500 1963 DB4 Series V 4.2-Litre Vantage (£166,500), 1994 6.3-Litre V8 Vantage Volante (£58,700)

Factor in a busy automobilia auction with everything from a keenly fought-for DB6 colour sample folder (£840) to a child’s DBR1 at £18,600, and it was another successful Aston sale for Bonhams.

To see the complete results, please click HERE.

Bonhams Aston Martin Sale at Newport Pagnell  21 May 2011: Review Bonhams Aston Martin Sale at Newport Pagnell  21 May 2011: Review
Bonhams Aston Martin Sale at Newport Pagnell  21 May 2011: Review Bonhams Aston Martin Sale at Newport Pagnell  21 May 2011: Review
Bonhams Aston Martin Sale at Newport Pagnell  21 May 2011: Review Bonhams Aston Martin Sale at Newport Pagnell  21 May 2011: Review

Text: Adam Towler
Photos: Tim Cottingham /

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