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Christie's Auction 2 December 2003 , London - Preview

Christie’s’ thirty entries for their traditional pre-Christmas sale may be some number less than other auction houses are offering in December but the epithet ‘quality rather than quantity’ has never been better applied. The entry includes such diverse lots as a 1988 Ferrari Testarossa, £10,000 – 15,000, a 1952 Humber Pullman ‘Woodie’ Estate, £12,000 – 15,000 and of course the real stars including a 1998 McLaren F1, £500,000 - 600,000 and a 1965 Bizzarrini 5300GT - ‘Estimate on Request’.

Christie’s sold an immaculate metallic blue McLaren for £ 593,750 including premium in June this year. The car they have for sale this time round is a ‘Kandy’ orange metallic version with all sorts of improvements and modifications to its already stratospheric specification. From a personal perspective (having seen both cars in the ‘carbon’) I prefer this colour – and I have no doubt any prospective purchaser can avail themselves of McLaren’s excellent service and repair facility to strip and repaint it to the exact shade of their choice.

The Bizzarrini is one of those racing GT cars that a few years ago could have been bought at a fraction of its current price. Engineer Giotto Bizzarrini had cut his teeth at Alfa Romeo before joining Ferrari in 1957 tasked with refining the handling of the 250 series road and racing cars. This he did successfully, and having played a significant part in creating the GTO moved on with other Ferrari staff to ATS - from which fiasco he departed to Iso in 1963. His A3C design, with its 7,000 pop rivets, was unveiled at the Turin Motor Show in November 1963. A design icon was born. The Christie’s’ car was a much later (construction commenced in 1965) independent rear suspension version with very light glass-fibre bodywork. The only RHD car produced by the Livorno factory, it competed at Le Mans, the Targa and Monza in 1966 with the familiar Chevy 5.3 engine installed. For 1967 a 7 litre ‘big block’ was fitted, its 550bhp being able to propel the car to an estimated 210mph. It did not pass scrutineering at Le Mans that year and also failed to finish the Monza world championship round. Retaining its red and yellow bodywork it was mothballed for 32 years when Prototipo Bizzarrini S.p.A. filed for bankruptcy in 1971. This is the car that is up for auction, a pre-1966, genuinely original car with contemporary racing history that can be fitted with either the 5.3 or 7.0 litre motor. What price can you put on that? Refer department to find out – or be there on the night.

Finishing off the European competition-based triumvirate is the 1974 Alfa Romeo 33TT 12 Sports Prototype, a chassis that won the Dijon, Monza, Nurburgring and Targa Florio rounds of the world sportscar championship in 1975. Another ‘on request’ lot, and perhaps being a prototype less user-friendly than the Bizzarrini, it is nevertheless a highly desirable car that is liable to be eligible for more historic racing events as the years go by. It’s been run at the Goodwood Festival in 1999 and Christies’ describe the car as ‘gently patinated’ with ‘equably noticeable signs of maintenance and light use’. Another fantastic car.

Christie's  Auction 2 December 2003 , London - Preview Going back to an earlier era, the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, in its very earliest ‘Edwardian’ form, is one of the world’s most celebrated and expensive cars. The example Christies have here carries its original 1912 torpedo-fronted bodywork by Thrupp and Maberly. Christie’s describe the car as the ‘sixteenth earliest Silver Ghost to survive’ with its bodywork intact after nearly 100 years. The estimate is £350,000 – 400,000, justified by the stunningly unspoilt condition of the car, its continuous known history and its elegant, practical lines.

A collection from a deceased estate yields some surprising bargains, all complete with ‘cherished’ numberplates in the series ‘SHY’. A2 SHY is a 1988 Jaguar XJS Convertible, £5,000 – 8,000, 25 SHY a 1988 Ferrari Testarossa, in need of some restoration hence its £10,000 – 15,000, 1 SHY is a 1990 Rolls-Royce Corniche III Convertible, £15,000 – 20,000 and finally R2 SHY a 1997 Bentley Turbo R LWB. The latter two cars looking smart in black/magnolia and may well prove to be popular lots with the added bonus of the numberplates thrown in.

Christie's  Auction 2 December 2003 , London - Preview Endurance racing in the mid-Nineties was frequently more exciting than F1 with works teams from BMW (McLaren F1), Mercedes (AMG CLK-GTR) and Porsche (GT1) battling it out with semi-official Ferrari F40s and Lotuses. An occasional, but no less important entry was made by Honda who produced a GT2 version of their supercar NSX. The 1994 ex-Works Racecar car entered in the sale looked every inch the on-the-button racer when I saw it in London this week, complete as it is with a comprehensive spares package including engine, gearbox and body panels. It’s still eligible for a lot of current racing and despite its hi-tech ancestry is a (relatively) straightforward car for an experienced racing team to run. Estimate - £70,000 – 100,000.

A couple of curiosities to finish off the preview, the 1959 VW Type II 23-window Microbus looks straight from any West Coast surfer’s beach. Estimated at £14,000 – 18,000 it’s a jolly buy in its red/black paintwork and would make a great fun car as is or converted to a 1960’s ‘flower power’ special. The 1952 Humber Pullman Warwick ‘Woodie’ Estate comes from an earlier, era of nostalgia – less psychedelic, more black and white. Very at home on the sporting estates of the Fifties, the car could be a superb race-support car at Goodwood as well as being a fun concours entry – it has already competed at the Hurlingham Louis Vuitton Classic in 2000. Estimate at £12,000 – 15,000.

The sale and viewing will take place at:

The Jack Barclay Showroom, 2-4 Ponton Road, London SW8


Sunday 30 November 10am - 6pm
Monday 1 December 9am - 5pm
Tuesday 2 December 9am - 4pm

Classic Driver are delighted to announce that all the motor-car lots for the December 2 Auction are included in their car database. CLICK HERE to see all the lots in the sale, with photographs and links to detailed descriptions on

Click HERE to view the lotlist.

Photos - Christie's. Words - Classic Driver