It has been a record year for the Bonhams Motoring department in 2012, with strong performances across the auction calendar and a number of notable high prices achieved, including many new world auction records. The department sold 1,133 motor cars, 835 motorcycles and more than 3,000 lots of automobilia across 24 sales
worldwide in 2012, with the UK side particularly strong thanks in a large part to two record-breaking sales at Goodwood in June and September.
The Motor Car and Automobilia departments' foray into Scottsdale auto auction week in January saw $6.2 million raised, and a number of good prices realized. These included $667,000 for a well-documented
1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet C, which attracted a fierce bidding battle between the USA,the UK, eastern Europe and the Far East, no doubt helping it beat its top estimate by almost $70,000. Meanwhile the impeccable Marlene Dietrich 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Transformable Phaeton reached its top estimate at $524,000.
On the automobilia side, 100 per cent of the David E. Davis Jr. Collection sold, to give a 93 per cent sale rate overall. Outstanding prices were paid for many lots, including a world auction record for a 1906 Vanderbilt Cup Pennant at $10,625.
The Motorcycle department's annual sale in Las Vegas, meanwhile, realized $1.8 million, with the top-selling lot a c.1953 Vincent 998cc Series C Black Shadow that more than doubled its top estimate to
sell for $122,500.
In early February, the Bonhams sale at La Halle Freyssinet during Rétromobile week realized €7.2 million from more than 100 cars and 35
motorcycles, including several high-quality French built cars and three private collections. Top-selling lot was a 1961 Aston Martin DB4GT Coupé, which realized €1,012,000.
The Oxford Sale in the UK in March was particularly
strong for the Automobilia department, who attained
their highest price ever at the opening sale of the year
at £13,750 for an Anzani four-cylinder engine for a
A new world record price was set at the Motorcycle department's April sale at the Stafford County Showground in 2012 when a 1955 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow that was the final example of its model to roll off the production line made £124,700. The £2.2 million sale also included a number of other strong prices, including £225,000 for a 1939 Vincent 998cc Rapide Series A and £242,300 for a 1934 Brough Superior 996cc SS100 that was previously part of the Murray Motorcycle Museum Collection on the Isle of Man.
The 2012 Bonhams sale at Aston Martin Works in Newport Pagnell was a multiple record-breaking success, attracting a record crowd of 2,000 bidders, achieving a record £6.5 million total for the sale, and
setting a new world auction record for a DB4 GT Zagato Sanction II Coupé at £1.23 million. Another top price was the £611,900 achieved for a 1962 Aston Martin DB4 Vantage Convertible from the estate of the late Peter Gwynn. Meanwhile, there were astonished cheers when a unique 1971 DBS Shooting Brake Estate ordered by a Scottish laird for
his fishing trips sold for £345,000 against a pre-sale estimate of £50,000 to £70,000.
The top sale of 2012 was the multiple-record breaking auction at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, at more than £22 million.
History was made when the ex-Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin 1929-31 Bentley 4½-liter 'Blower' Single-Seater sold to an anonymous telephone
bidder for just over £5 million – the highest price for a Bentley at auction, and indeed the highest auction price achieved for any British marque.
Bonhams also broke its own record set in December 2007, selling 'The Corgi' 1912 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp 'Silver Ghost' Double Pullman Limousine for £4.7 million, the highest price for the Rolls-Royce marque at auction.
Elsewhere one of only 19 right-hand drive Ferrari 275 GTS Spiders made realized £561,500 – another world auction record. Bonhams offered cars from five single-owner collections at the sale, including that of watchmaker George Daniels. This collection
included the Birkin Bentley, as well as a number of other motor vehicles, including the ex-works Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Spider Lungo in which Birkin took part in the 1932 Le Mans 24-Hours Endurance Race, which sold for £2,689,500. Among the automobilia a model of the 1929 4½-liter 'Blower' Bentley that came from the Daniels Collection sold for £12,500.
Bonhams also sold the renowned Lotus collection of Dutch textile industrialist Olav Glasius, which realized just short of £1 million
in the marque's 60th anniversary year. Meanwhile the USA team's sale at the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance produced its best result yet, with a total exceeding $5 million. The auction included the first sale of a million-dollar automobile, with a 1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Berlinetta realizing $1.28 million – a world auction record for a steel-bodied 'shortnose' road car.
The Sale at Quail Lodge in the USA during Monterey Car Week saw a number of records broken. These included a joint world auction record
for two Crocker V-Twins at $302,000 each, and what is believed to have been a record price for a car mascot at auction, at almost $340,000 for an extremely rare Lalique 'Renard' fox mascot.
On the motor car side highlights included the sale of the ex-Filipinetti/Dominique Martin Team ZITRO 1966 Ford GT40 for $2.2 million.
A £13.6 million sale at the Goodwood Revival brought the Bonhams Goodwood sale total for 2012 to a record-breaking £35.6 million.
Leading the way was the extraordinarily original 1928 supercharged 'S' type Mercedes-Benz, which realized £2.8 million, together with an
important collection of Maseratis from a one owner collection, which realized a collective £2.88 million, including £1.68 million for a unique 1929 Maserati Tipo 26M four-seater race car with Brooklands Double Twelve, Irish Grand Prix and RAC Tourist Trophy racing pedigree.
Several records were set, including a new world auction record for the Lagonda marque with the V12 team car that took part in the
1939 Le Mans 24-Hour endurance race selling for £1,289,500, and a world auction record for a rally Healey 3000 with 'ARX 91B', the 1964 MkIII works car that won the 1964 Austrian Alpine Rally, selling for £242,300. Another record was also set for an Alfa Romeo at auction, with the 1929 1750 SS Competition Tourer that was ex-Leonard Headlam, Tourist Trophy and Irish Grand Prix realizing just short of £1.1 million.
On the automobilia side, an utterly unique hand-made artwork representing a life-sized 'AirFix' kit of an Aston Martin DBR1 generated a lot of interest, selling eventually for £27,500.
A beautifully-made electric-powered child's car made in the style of the motor car that featured in the fi lm Chitty Chitty Bang Bang fetched a very good price at £15,000.
The USA team's inaugural sale at the Simeone Automotive Museum in Philadelphia was an enormous success, with 94 per cent of lots sold to
realise $2.8 million. The top-selling lot was a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Coupé from long-term first ownership, which realized $357,000. Meanwhile, an extremely rare 1920s Brooklands racing motorcycle that was one of only two of its kind known to survive was the star at the Motorcycle department's £1.3 million autumn sale at the Staffordshire County Showground. The 1929 Grindlay-Peerless-JAP 500cc 'Hundred Model' that lapped Brooklands at over 100mph in 1937 in the hands of the late Edmond 'Boy' Tubb sold for £67,580. Elsewhere in the sale every one of almost 50 modern-day classics from a single-owner collection was sold for a combined total of £215,236, and two important Brough Superior SS-80 motorcycles realized a total of more than £130,000 – £63,100 for an original, unrestored 981cc 1925 model, and £68,700 for the 1930 De Luxe 'Black Bess' once owned by C E 'Titch' Allen. A 1930 Brough Superior Overhead 680 motorcycle project doubled its top estimate to achieve £59,740.
The Motor Car and Automobilia departments recorded the highest total to date at the annual pre-London to Brighton Veteran Car Run auction
in New Bond Street, London, in 2012 at £1.7 million. Every one of the 14 pre-1905 cars offered sold, with the top-selling lot a 1904 Delaugère et Clayette 24hp Four-Cylinder Side-Entrance Tonneau which sold for £225,500. One lot that generated much interest from the world's media as well as from bidders was the world's oldest surviving Vauxhall – a 1903 two-seater – which beat its top estimate to sell for £94,460.
Shortly afterwards the Motoring department enjoyed its busiest ever annual auction at the Great Yorkshire Showground, achieving another
record total at £1.1 million. In the motor car section a 1965 Ferrari 330GT 2+2 Coupé restoration project sold for more than double
its pre-sale estimate at £68,700, while among the motorcycles the top lot was a 1950 Vincent- HRD Rapide Series C that sold above estimate
at £28,750. The top-selling item of automobilia was a rare and original RAF operation room Sector clock which sold for nearly seven times its top pre-sale estimate at £10,250 after a battle between determined bidders. Meanwhile the last Austin J40 Pedal Car ever built sold for £4,250.
The final sale of the UK Motoring auction calendar in Weybridge, Surrey, saw £4.4 million realized. Among the highlights was 100 per
cent sold for the Patrick Collection: Part III at £1 million, including £466,300 for a 1931 Invicta 4½-liter S-Type Low-Chassis Tourer. Meanwhile an unusual Rolls-Royce-engined 1950 Land Rover
Prototype sold for nearly six-times its pre-sale estimate at £47,150. And after a fi erce bidding war the 1935 Ford Box Van that featured in the television series Dad's Army as Lance Cpl Jones's butcher's van sold to the Dad's Army Museum in Thetford, Norfolk, for £63,100 – more than double its top estimate.
In the automobilia section two rare and historically important folios of Volkswagen 'Beetle' blueprints rescued from the bomb damaged
German factory and considered instrumental in reviving post-war production of the car sold for more than four times their pre-sale estimate at £13,750, and a superb 1914 leather-cased picnic set for six people by Drew & Sons with sterling silver accessories set the top
price for a picnic set at a Bonhams auction, selling for £25,000. A very topical sale was the £13,750 achieved for the 'Wings for Life' charity for Sebastian Vettel's signed race suit from the 2012
Australian Grand Prix, just days after he became a triple world champion.