One look at the priciest cars sold during this year’s Arizona auctions is enough to see that when it comes to getting top dollar, Ferrari is still the king. In fact, Italian cars steal a lot of the spotlight at elite-tier auctions. Lest we not forget, though, that when it comes to cars that truly exude class and elegance, the British know a thing or two. So sit down with a frothy English bitter or a cup of tea and take in these seven most expensive British cars to sell at the 2019 Arizona auctions.
Average value in #2 (Excellent) condition: $473,000
Similar in style to contemporary Bentleys, but in Rolls-Royce form and finished by H.J. Mulliner, this is one of 12 left-hand-drive examples produced. Delivered new to Dorothy Staniar Assheton of New York City (one of her several residences) in 1956, and kept until 1974, the car features “Windtone” horns, summer and winter radiator thermostats, “puncture-proof tires,” an automatic transmission, and power steering. Arguably not as pretty as the Bentley lower down on this list, this Rolls-Royce also sold for less than half of what the Bentley did, which seems like a good deal.
Average value in #2 (Excellent) condition: $114,000
This opulent State Landaulet is one of five. Originally ordered by the Communist dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceaușescu, its luxuries include a cocktail bar, entertainment cabinet with a television, dual air-conditioners, overhead fluorescent lighting for nighttime parades, and a refrigerated wine cooler. The final cost of just less than ₤20,000 made it the most expensive Phantom V ever produced. The higher-ups in Moscow did not approve, however, and the car went back to England after a year. The historical connection here is part of the cause for such a high price on this car, which ordinarily averages $129,000 in #1 (Concours) condition.
Average value in #2 (Excellent) condition: $146,000
Not all Bentleys were bodied in England. This Mark VI is a one-off by French coachbuilder Franay of Paris. The Parisian design features flowing fender lines and chrome accents. Restored in the early 2000s with a two-tone brown paint scheme, the brown tones also continue inside—the combination of colors was reportedly inspired by chocolate bars of Hershey—where the car was anticipated to debut at the AACA National meet. Even in totally flawless condition, coachbuilt Bentley Mk VI dropheads usually top out at around $185,000, but this is a one-off car in truly outstanding condition and it has two Amelia Island Best in Class awards under its belt.
S.H. “Wacky” Arnolt of Chicago ordered seven Aston Martin DB2/4s from Bertone. Six were open cars, which includes three spyders, and this is the only coupe—a one-off from Bertone. While not nearly as pretty the spider, this coupe was displayed on the Bertone stand at the 1957 Turin Auto Show. Today they’re worth about a fifth of the Bertone-built spyder. These Bertone-bodied cars likely led to Aston Martin to Touring (and Zagato) for the DB4.
This UK-delivery right-hand-drive DB5 is painted the popular color of Silver Birch, made popular by 007’s car in Goldfinger. The recipient of subtle upgrades (sadly not of the Q-branch variety) including A/C and a synchromesh transmission from Beachum in New Zealand, this car sold for below the condition-appropriate value according to our data. An amendment to the catalog stated the car did have a matching numbers engine, and the car was reported as a post-block sale, so someone probably got a deal. Additional non-original updates included power steering, soundproofing, and central locking. The DB5 model remains the centerpiece for many Aston Martin collectors.
1956 Bentley S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward
One of 31 left-hand-drive examples out of a long-term collection, the S1 Continental Drophead Coupe by Park Ward features an aluminum body and tiny tail-fins. While this car’s first owner was Mary Stevens Baird of Bernardsville, New Jersey, and has always remained in the states, another example of the 31 LHD cars was commandeered by Saddam Hussein.
When McLaren launched the P1 in 2014 with a plug-in hybrid-electric drivetrain, many asked what the car would be like without the heavy batteries and electric motor. The 2019 McLaren Senna is the crazy-looking answer to that question. The track-bred but still street-legal Senna is aesthetically… brave, with its massive wings optimized for huge downforce. The fact that it is the top sale for all English cars across the Arizona auction week suggests that collectors are warming up to the Senna.