Bonhams returned to Carmel Valley in California on Aug. 16, 2013, for its 16th annual Quail Lodge auction, and the result was the best total in the event’s history. Be it due to a buoyed market overall, a drastically reduced and more competitive buyer’s commission, or momentum earned from setting a record for the most expensive car ever sold at auction a month ago, the tone was markedly different from years past and the tent had a palpable buzz to it. In the end, Bonhams sold 76 of 90 cars for $30.5M, bettering 2012’s figure by nearly $20M.
The high sale for the day was a 1931 Blower Bentley 4.5L Le Mans roadster that generated serious interest and finished with a $4.65M price tag, including buyer’s premium. A one-off Vignale bodied 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa coupe sold for $2.805M, and an incredibly preserved early 1963 Shelby Cobra 260 from the Stan Hallinan collection gained an astonishing $2.068M.
An alloy-block 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster with factory disc brakes sold for $1.43M, confirming that late-model SL roadsters have now come into parity with — and in many cases exceed — prices of early Gullwings. A handful of heavyweight Mercedes collectors also battled for a rare and massive 1910 Mercedes 45hp 4-seat Tourabout Phaeton, pushing bidding more than 80% beyond the car’s high estimate to finish at $1.1M. The top of the Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America market crept ever closer to the million-dollar mark, as a 1955 sold for $935,000.
Other surprises included a 1952 Frazer Nash Le Mans replica roadster at a record $1.001M. These cars don’t come to market often and are a certified terror on the track, which persuaded several buyers to enthusiastically raise their paddles. An incredible Lotus Cortina with a shade over 6,000 original miles and also from the Hallinan collection traded for $115,500, and a 1974 Lamborghini Countach periscopica cemented its place as a connoisseur’s collectible at $836,000.
Overall Top 10 Sales:
- 1931 Bentley 4.5-Litre Supercharged Le Mans Roadster sold for $4,647,500
- 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Vignale Coupe sold for $2,805,000
- 1963 Shelby Cobra 260 Roadster sold for $2,068,000
- 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster sold for $1,430,000
- 1958 Lister-Chevrolet Knobbly Roadster sold for $1,430,000
- 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SII Cabriolet sold for $1,375,000
- 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe sold for $1,100,000
- 1910 Mercedes 45hp 4-Seat Tourabout Phaeton sold for $1,100,000
- 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS Spyder sold for $1,045,000
- 1952 Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica Mk II Roadster sold for $1,001,000
Next up for Bonhams’ U.S. operation is the Oct. 11, 2013, preservation sale at the Simeone Foundation in Philadelphia, Penn. The company’s next automotive sale is set for Sept. 7, 2013, at the British National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.