The ex-Peter Wheeler Aston Martin DB5 was the star lot at Brightwells’ last sale of 2012 – and it looked great value at the £165k hammer price, or £182,000 all in, as Brightwells’ 10% buyers’ premium is among the cheapest in the business. The former TVR boss bought the racer in 2006 and had it toned down into a fast road/track day car, though it still retained its roll cage, pulled rear arches for fatter rubber and a 327bhp 4.2-litre engine with electronic ‘brain’. Even missing much of its original trim it looked great value when standard road cars are at least £100,000 more. Second highest price went to a restored and fully sorted 1937 Alvis Speed 25 SB saloon at £70,400, while a better-than-new Fiat 500A Topolino from the same year fetched £16,060.
As ever, the sale included a few restoration projects: a 1959 Austin-Healey Sprite created a lot of interest, spread out on the floor in component form with its Frogeye bonnet in front of it, and sold for £3190, a barn-find 1933 MG Midget J2 cost £11,220 and a tatty Riley Nine Special drew £16,720. Sadly the Citroen SM, unused for many years, scared off potential buyers when it sprang a leak in the hall. A 1964 Mini at the other end of the restoration cycle, appearing in the catalogue as a bare shell and assembled just in time to be pushed into the display hall the night before the show, was £9240. Two more well-prepared Mini racers were £9460 for a Mk1 Appendix K-spec car and £6380 for a more extreme MkII, while a usable 1977 Aston Martin V8 was £25,300.
A nice Austin-Healey Mk1 two-seater from a deceased estate was good value at £26,400 though the John Chatham-prepared 3000MkII rally car could not reach the £70k needed to buy it, which was far less than it would have cost to build again. Other competition cars did better: the Cirrus-Buick racer with VSCC Buff Form and racing logbook went over estimate but still looked very good value at £31,900, its 5-litre de Havilland aero engine promising plenty of grunt, though the car has lost the tandem wicker seats it arrived with from Australia in 2008, and the ex-Betty Haig Turner 803 racer was £17,380.
A perfect, restored 1929 M-type Midget was £21,175 and a lovely Austin Seven RL Box saloon of the same calibre was £10,340 while a Volvo P1800S, still really nice 20 years after restoration was £15,400. A rare 1953 Lanchester Leda was £2970, a 1970 left-hand drive Porsche 911T with five-speed was on the money at £25,300, while a late-entry 1982 Renault-Alpine A310 fetched £10,560. Sixty-six cars sold out of 107 offered meant a 62% sale rate, but that was attained in a week of floods in the south and west of the country, before the big freeze.