Collector's Motor Cars and Automobilia
28 Apr 2014
Hendon, RAF Museum

One of the exclusive limited edition run of only ten 'Democracy Cars' built by the German manufacturer in 2004 to commemorate ten years of democracy in South Africa

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the BMW collector, the very special 2004 318i Sports Saloon offered is a chance to purchase a piece of history. Estimated at £3,000-5,000, this Democracy Car will go under the hammer on April 28th at Bonhams Collector's Motor Cars and Automobilia Sale, at the RAF Museum in Hendon.

On 27th April 1994 Nelson Mandela had become South Africa's first fully democratically elected president, and to mark the tenth anniversary of this historic event BMW South Africa and its employees donated their resources and time to build these special cars, while many of BMW's parts suppliers assisted the project by donating components.

Ex-president Mandela personally signed the interior of every one, and each was issued with an authenticating plaque. They were intended as fund raising vehicles to be auctioned across the world for the benefit of various charities, the principal recipient being the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

Individual Democracy Cars were exported to Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, the remainder being sold in South Africa. The example offered here is the UK Democracy Car, donated by BMW UK, which was auctioned at Madame Tussaud's in London in June 2005, selling to an anonymous bidder for £38,000. The proceeds of the 'Put Yourself in My Shoes' auction were split between the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the UK children's charities Norwood and Shine.

The current vendor bought the BMW from its original purchaser, a friend of his, in 2006. A manual transmission model finished in silver with black leather interior, 'RX55 BUO' has been maintained by BMW North Oxford and comes with full service history, complete book pack, spare key, torch, etc. Currently displaying a total of 46,000 miles on the odometer, the car is described as in generally very good condition and offered with current MoT/tax and V5C registration document.

The car is to be sold without reserve, presenting a unique opportunity for anyone to bid on this piece of South African democratic history.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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