2 VEV has become the most valuable British cars old at a European auction, with a final price of £10,081,500 at Bonhams’ FoS sale.
One of the most significant British competition cars of all time, a 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Zagato known as ‘2 VEV’ – has sold for £10,081,500 at Bonhams’ Festival of Speed auction on 13 July.
This made it the most expensive British car to be sold at a European auction – the international record is the $22.5m Aston Martin DBR1 – and contributed to Bonhams’ £32,046,159 sale total.
What makes 2 VEV so special?
There are a lot of important racing cars from this period, and while those from Maranello normally the attract the most praise and high values, the DB4GT Zagato was right up there. A total of 18 original DB4 GT Zagatos exist today (of the 19 built), and this example was one of two ‘VEV’ unofficial Works cars, and also one of only three built to the ultra-lightweight ‘DP209’ specification.
John Ogier’s Essex Racing Stable team campaigned 2 VEV throughout 1961 and 1962 alongside sister car 1 VEV, as an unofficial Works entry. During 1961, it competed in the Le Mans 24-Hour race and the Paris 1,000 Kilometres in which it finished 6th, driven by Jim Clark and Innes Ireland. Clark drove the car in the RAC Tourist Trophy race at Goodwood, finishing fourth.
Clark raced the same car in the RAC Trophy the following year, which was slightly more problematic. After a spin on Madgwick Corner in the path of race leader John Surtees’ Ferrari 250 GTO, both cars were taken out of the race. Followed shortly by Robin Benson’s Ferrari 250 GT SWB, a photo of this accident became one of the most iconic motorsport pictures of the last century. It was at this point already wearing the factory’s latest ‘DP209’ ultimate-lightweight specification, following an accident at Spa-Francorchamps earlier in the year.
Spending the last 47 years in single-family ownership, 2 VEV was well known for its historic racing antics in the 1980s and 1990s. Its racing life became much more infrequent after its final big rebuild by Aston Martin in 1993, following a fairly substantial accident.
Bond’s Goldeneye DB5
Image: Marc Willmot
The next slightly surprising result was the £1,961,500 final price for the 1965 Aston Martin DB5, one of three cars used by EON for use in the 1997 James Bond film Goldeneye. This was the car that appeared in the opening chase scene of the film, putting Bond back in the seat of an Aston Martin for the first time in over 30 years. The last time this car sold in 2001 at a Christie’s auction, it became the most expensive piece of Bond memorabilia at £157,750.
BMW 507, owned since new by John Surtees CBE
John Surtees’ BMW 507 Roadster exceeded its pre-sale estimate of £2-3million, finally selling for £3,809,500 to a European buyer in the room – becoming the most expensive BMW ever sold at auction. Finding a single-owner car of this calibre is extremely unusual, adding a significant premium to the price of a regular 507.
Other highlights included a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT PF Coupé that sold for £583,900, the Tulip Rally class winning 1954 AC Ace Roadster at £404,700 as well as the final ever Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which surpassed its top estimate at £2,045,500.
There were clearly a few fans of The Bridge in the room, as the 1977 Porsche 911S that starred in the TV drama sold for seven times its pre-sale estimate – achieving £141,500. All proceeds are to be donated to WaterAid.
James Knight, Bonhams Motoring Chairman and the auctioneer for the sale, commented: ‘We are simply blown away by today’s results. This is our 50th sale at Goodwood - which happens to coincide with the silver anniversary of The Festival of Speed – and it was the perfect celebration of classic and collectors’ motor cars. The world records that we set today are indicative of the continued market desire for the historically significant motor cars with impeccable provenance such as ‘2 VEV’ and the John Surtees BMW 507.’
Top ten auction results
1: 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato ‘2VEV’ – £10,081,500
2: 1932-34 Alfa Romeo Tipo B Monoposto – £4,593,500
3: 1957 BMW 507 Roadster ‘John Surtees CBE’ – £3,809,500
4: 2012 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport – £2,045,500
5: 1931 Bentley 4½-Litre Supercharged Tourer – £2,017,500
6: 1965 Aston Martin DB5 ‘Goldeneye’ – £1,961,500
7: 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe – £583,900
8: 1964 Aston Martin DB5 – £449,500
9: 1954 AC Ace Roadster – £404,700
10: 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage X-Pack – £393,500