Market and auctions

Bonhams at Goodwood.
God save the King’s car

Cliff Goodall’s view

Photo credit: Bonhams

Despite the panic over the technical glitch that brought down the Bonhams Goodwood auction website in September, bidders in the room, together with those bidding over the phone, turned in a great result: the 74 cars sold represented 64.91% of the 114 on offer and in terms of value, they generated 68.22% of the original estimates – or rather £11,354,900 (€12,789,195) out of an overall offer value of £16,644,000 (€18,746,385). 

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

The average price per car of £153,444 (€172,826) was also higher than the amount registered at the Festival of Speed in July (the most important of the three events), despite half as many cars being offered without reserve: from 26.66% to 15.38%.

Just like being behind the wheel: everything you need to know to fully understand the situation

The two most important cars of the auction were closely linked to the Goodwood circuit and gave different results. 

The 1961 Cooper-Zerex-Oldsmobile, the seventh configuration of a Cooper single-seater, would have garnered far less interest had it not been the very same car that gave the future New Zealand-born champion, engineer and constructor his first break. At Goodwood in 1964, with Bruce McLaren behind the wheel, the car took pole position after winning at Brands Hatch. Unfortunately, Bruce also met his untimely demise at Goodwood in 1970, during a private testing of one of his cars that dominated the CanAm series. 

The strange hybrid brought to the auction wasn’t the full car, but a full set of components (bodywork, engine, transmission) ready to be restored and reassembled. No official estimates were given though rumours placed it somewhere between £500,000 and £700,000. Both were wrong because it flew beneath the chequered flag for £911,000 (€1,026,070).

1964 3.9-Litre Cooper-Zerex-Oldsmobile ex-Bruce McLaren sold for £911,000 (€1,026,070)

The 1952 Aston Martin DB3 didn’t have the same luck, despite being a highly desirable jewel for those who love vintage racing: ex-works, it had raced with Peter Collins, George Abecassis and Reg Parnell behind the wheel, and won the 9-Hours race at Goodwood exactly seventy years ago (in 1952). It also participated at Le Mans, Sebring and the Mille Miglia. It was expected to win once again this time, but bids stopped at £2.3m (€2,5m), half a million short of the £2.8m-£3.3m estimate. Rightly withdrawn but with more than a few regrets.

1952 Aston Martin DB3 Works Team Sports-Racing ex-Peter Collins went unsold at £2,300,000(€2,590,524)

Three Mercedes accelerated hard in the room: two McLaren SLRs, both part of the very limited ‘722 Edition’ series, a dark green 2009 Roadster with just 100 km on the clock, the other a 2007 Coupé in dark grey that had covered just 50 Miles. Although they were offered a considerable 18 lots apart – I assume from the same seller – probably from Saudi Arabia since both had GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) specifications. 

2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 S Roadster sold for £687,000 (€773,775)

The report, and requested amendment, suggests that they came from a kind of “Aladdin’s cave” of modern supercars somewhere in the middle of the desert.

Estimated and £240,000-£320,000 for the Roadster and £180,000-£240,000 for the Coupé, without a shadow of doubt too low, but at £687,000 (€773,775) and £631,000 (€710,705) respectively, they silenced the hall.

2007 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren ‘722 Edition’ Coupé sold for £631,000 (€710,705)

The other Mercedes-Benz that shined brightly was an SLS with far fewer mysteries under its belt: its third owner and seller bought it in December 2019 at another Bonhams sale for £147,333 with 7,200 miles on the clock. After 3 years and over 10,000 miles added to that total, he brought it back hoping to break even. Estimated at £150,000-£160,000, it amazed everyone present: sold or £179,400 – a sign that all eyes are on this model too.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé sold for £179,400 (€202,060)

Speaking of that mysterious Arabian collection, word is that three Rolls Royces that shocked the room were also part of it: a Phantom EWB (long wheelbase) from 2009 at £218,500 (€246,099) – estimated at £120,000-£200,000 – a Phantom Coupé from the same year at £235,750 (€265,528) against an estimate of £80,000-£140,000, but above all a Dawn Convertible from 2017. The car had covered a considerable 15,000km (the other two had not exceeded low hundreds), but the estimate of £100,000-£160,000 was wiped out at £264,500 (€297,910). When you consider that in the United Kingdom a new model today costs £282,000 and this used example was also subject to 20% VAT in addition to a 10% customs duty charge, there will inevitably be one or two questions raised about this particular sale. 

2017 Rolls-Royce Dawn Convertible sold for £264,500 (€297,910)

Finally, I would like to mention what I have called “the Charles III effect”: the 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante ‘Prince of Wales’ – named after King Charles III (at the time, the Prince of Wales) purchased the very first example – had never been used since 2011 and started out with an estimate of £300,000-£500,000. It arrived very gracefully at £460,000. Would it have been the same if it had been sold before 13th September, the day The Queen left us?

1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante ‘Prince of Wales’ sold for £460,000 (€518,105)