Auction preview: 5 rare gems at the Bonhams New Bond Street sale
Every year, Bonhams holds a collector car auction at its New Bond Street, London, headquarters that is typically small but nevertheless full of great cars. This year is no different.
While there are only 30 automobiles and five motorcycles on offer, every single lot is special. Aston Martin fans alone will be spoiled for choice, with six cars from the DB4 through DB6 and two more modern examples. Elsewhere in the collection, two of the lots were bought new by members of the Beatles, and two of the Bentleys on offer were owned by Sir Elton John. There are also two Ferrari halo cars (a 288 GTO and an Enzo), a Ford RS200, and a very rare Chrysler-powered 1970 Bristol 411.
The auction is scheduled for December 2, and while it was difficult to narrow it down, here are the five most noteworthy of the 30 on offer:
Presale estimate: $520,000–$650,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $410,000–$650,000
While not quite as voluptuous and graceful as the earlier R-Type Continental, the Bentley S-Type Continental was a similarly attractive, fast car, and one of most stylish rides you could buy in the 1950s. Barely 400 were built, but only this one was owned by Elton John. The music icon bought the Bentley in 1976 and had it restored. Sir Elton kept it for years before selling it to British entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar in 2001. The car then sold at the Bonhams Olympia sale 10 years ago for $189,000. The Continental has been maintained since then but is presumably in the same condition, clear evidence that the market for these cars has come a long way. For those on a bit more of a budget, Bonhams consigned another ex-Elton John Bentley for this sale—a 1960 S2 Continental Flying Spur (four-door). It has a more modest pre-sale estimate of $210,000–$250,000.
Presale estimate: $1,600,000–$2,000,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $650,000–$1,400,000
Mega-stardom and cool cars often go hand-in-hand, and it’s no secret that the Beatles had some amazing automobiles. The DB5 crossing the block in London was Paul McCartney’s first (but not only) Aston Martin. McCartney ordered the car, originally finished in blue, just before leaving for the Beatles’ 1964 World Tour. He owned it for six years. British radio personality Chris Evans later acquired the car, and in 2012 RM sold it in London for £344,400. It has since been fully restored.
Presale estimate: $120,000–$160,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $18,200–$56,000
Another ex-Beatles car at the Bond Street auction, this Mini is a heck of a lot more affordable than Paul McCartney’s DB5. It’s also much more unusual. During the ‘60s, all four of the Beatles had Minis that had been done up by Harold Radford, the London bespoke coachbuilder best known for things like the Aston Martin shooting brakes and customized Minis. The Mini Cooper S on offer at the Bond Street sale belonged to drummer Ringo Starr.
Ringo stipulated that the car be able to fit a drum kit, so a one-piece hatchback rear was fitted, but that was far from the only special feature. Aside from the special burgundy and silver paint, there were vents in the hood, alloy wheels, Webasto sunroof, walnut dashboard, power windows, driving lights, special grille, and taillights from a Volkswagen Beetle. The body seams, which run down from the A-pillar to the wheel arches on early Minis, were also removed. Ringo only owned the Mini for about a year, but the car was restored in the 1990s and is certainly a neat bit of history.
Presale estimate: $1,200,000–$1,400,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $850,000–$1,500,000
There are three DB4s headed to the Bond Street sale, but only one of them is a convertible. This fairly late Series IV example is reportedly one of only 70 made, which explains the big pre-sale estimate. It was body-off restored and had its engine enlarged to 4.2 liters in the 2000s, and the only knock against this car is that it was fitted with a modern automatic gearbox. The good news is that the original, rebuilt manual transmission is included in the sale. Nothing that a little time, money, and elbow grease can’t remedy.
Presale estimate: $220,000–$260,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $91,500–$259,000
Any early, short-wheelbase 911 is a rare and special car that will catch the attention of any Porschephile, but for British Porsche fans the car on offer at the Bond Street sale is even more special, as it is the second right-hand drive UK market 911 and possibly the oldest one in existence. It was restored in the 1980s, but it retains its original interior. The combination of early build date and right-hand drive configuration makes this car fairly significant.