Malcolm Barber is renowned for his professional capabilities, both on the rostrum and in the boardroom. With a career spanning more than 30-years, during which time he had risen from being a sales clerk to conducting some of the most important auctions of fine art and classic motorcars, his expertise is unparalleled. Mr. Barber's career began when he joined Sotheby's in 1969. He progressed rapidly through all levels of administration and finance before being appointed Manager of the Sales Office at the new Sotheby's Belgravia saleroom, which opened in 1972. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed to run Sotheby's Bond Street Sales Office, reporting directly to the Chairman.
Mr. Barber was able to indulge his passion for classic motorcars by joining Sotheby's Car Department in 1975, becoming its Director in 1980. During the 1980s, Malcolm was a member of the management team responsible for establishing a new saleroom in Chester, in the North West of England. He also directed Sotheby's new Conduit Street saleroom and managed onsite country house contents sales throughout the United Kingdom. In 1986, he became the first auctioneer to organize a car sale in Monaco, a tradition that Bonhams maintains today, and two years later; he assumed the dual role of Head of the International Car Department and Managing Director of Operations at Sotheby's saleroom in Amsterdam. From being rivals with Robert Brooks in the mid-1980s, the two became colleagues in 1995 when Malcolm left Sotheby's to join Brooks Auctioneers as Group Managing Director. He is also a devoted member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Mr. Barber's move to San Francisco follows Bonhams' acquisition of Bonhams & Butterfields in August 2002, creating the world's third largest auction house. As CEO of Bonhams & Butterfields, he closely manages U.S. operations, while continuing his wider role as Group Managing Director of Bonhams worldwide
One per decade
In this series Bonhams Motoring Specialists select the one motor car from each decade that they would have in the motoring house given unlimited funds.
Having already a 1903 Peerless twin cylinder 16hp in my collection that seats the whole family, I think I have to move up to four cylinders. I covet the MMC a quintessential English early car manufacturer akin to Daimler - it must be British for this period. Four cylinders would mean a more relaxed run to Brighton each year and plenty of power for those VCC long weekend rallies that we enjoy.
1910 – 1920: Prince Henry Vauxhall
Something Vintage for my VSCC eventing, It has all that is required with a reasonable turn of speed, good looks and style.
1920 – 1930: Mercedes Benz SSK Count Trossi Sports
What a stunning looker, I was privileged to see it in Ralph Lauren's garage on Long Island many years ago, it is a past Pebble Beach winner, although I like driving my cars I would be happy to show this as well and be certain of winning.
1930 - 1940: Bentley 4.5-liter Supercharged
I used to rally and event in a 3/4.5-liter Bentley Le Mans style tourer which was the ideal mixture of chassis combined with torque and power. I have to have the ex-Jack Barclay demonstrator Blower. I have now auctioned this car twice in my career, just as British as you can get, Bulldog Drummond, James Bond and all that.
1940 – 1950: 1948 Lincoln V12 Continental Convertible
This was not a great period for motor car manufacture in Europe due to the hostilities. I look therefore to the States, American V engines are simply the best for this period and earlier. The marque that served the US presidents must be good enough for me.
1950 – 1960: 1955 Jaguar D-Type
A shortnose please. Again, just the epitome of British achievement and the mainstay of Jaguar development for many years to come.
1960 - 1970 Ford Gulf GT40, the Le Mans winner
It dominated the racing world in the mid 60's - as a teenager I was mesmerized by Le Mans and Ford beating Ferrari, and to have the Le Mans winning example would be the icing on the cake.
1970 - 1980 A Fiat 'Jolly' Beach car
I sold my Mini Moke to a colleague (here's a clue, he's over 6ft with blond hair!) and I need something to replace it at my house in Spain.
1980 – 1990: 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante
To Prince of Wales specification, and while I'm at it, please upgrade the engine to 6.3
1990 – 2000: Bugatti EB 110 GT Coupe
I can own a Bugatti from this period.....but not from the '30's when our own Mr Bentley was up against Ettore - I am too much of a die hard Brit.