Mercedes-Benz World has now hosted two UK auction sales – Historics and Bonhams. It was the turn of Historics of Brooklands to kick off the 2012 season. Two Mercedes barn finds - a 230SL and a 280SL Roadsters - all the way from California and Colorado respectively were early attractions. They managed to sell at £3700 and £3500, only slightly less than their polished and restored counterparts (a later 1978 280SL Roadster, fetched £4600).
Historics proved that there is another meaning to ‘rare’, apart from the obligatory Aston Martin DB5s and DB6s which were offered in quick succession, one unsold at £240,000 – the catalogue’s printing error of a £135k-£150k must have disappointed a few people – and the other, a Vantage, finding a new home for ‘only’ £155k.
Alfa Romeo had a particularly strong presence, with a portion of the Martin Webb model car and memorabilia collection of taking the lion share of the Automobilia section; the cars, from a Series 2 (1972) Alfa Romeo Spider 2000, owned by one couple since 1976, sold for £4999 - to a 1970 GTAm (Gran Turismo Alleggerita Maggiorata) Evocazione, built from a 1750GT Veloce (like the original) with replica and modern details which sold over estimate for £27,500, showing that there is a strong market for the marque of the ‘Biscione’ (serpent).
The auction house had gathered a 1965 Amphicar (sold for £18,250), possibly one of 20 surviving; two 2011 Peel ‘fun cars’ (neither found an owner with a good enough sense of humour); the 1970 George Barris Snake Pit, built to beat speed records and fitted with six Ford Cobra V8 engines (yes, it was sold for £15,500); and similarly off-the-wall ‘The Bunkbeds’ contraption, built by Bob Reisner with George Barris’s blessing - powered by a mechanically complete 600bhp V8 engine (hammer not quite down at £9250). The collection was completed by the 1969 Bugaloos Buggy (again, another psychedelic creation by George Barris) of American TV series ‘The Bugaloos’ fame sold provisionally for £9500.
It is perhaps in a different spirit that one should look at the 1941 Vickers-Supermarine Spitfire cockpit (with incomplete fuselage) originally powered by the eternal Rolls-Royce Merlin Mk XII engine, and accompanied by original papers. Although unsold after being offered £110,000, it probably remains the most fascinating piece of history one has seen in a (car) auction for a while.
All prices quoted are without Buyer’s Premium/VAT.