Bonhams Serves up Aces in Debut Audrain Concours Auction

A volley of automotive icons representing the pinnacle of collector motorcars will be served up by Bonhams in its debut Audrain Concours Auction on October 1.

A Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, an Edwardian Rolls-Royce, and a Shelby Cobra will lead the new sale at the Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week. The boutique selection of motor cars has been curated to reflect the event's theme of history, luxury and sport, showcased against the backdrop of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

The 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, estimate $1,300,000 – 1,600,000 is a true motoring legend. One of the world's most-recognised automobiles – and one of the most exotic of its day - was based on the competition coupé which stormed to success in gruelling endurance races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Mille Miglia.

This early example was equipped with the sought-after option of racing-derived Rudge wheels from new and has retained its original engine and coachwork. It is offered from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where it has been kept for the past decade in their Classic Automobile Museum.


1913 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost London-Edinburgh Tourer,
estimate $1,450,000 – 1,850,000

'History' is represented by the earliest motorcar in the sale, a 1913 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost London-Edinburgh Tourer, the epitome of British Edwardian elegance and dubbed the best car in the world for its engineering excellence. The sporting London-Edinburgh Tourer was named in honour of the factory-modified '1701' car which was driven non-stop over a 400-mile course between those two cities using top gear only and returning a remarkable 24.32 miles per gallon.

The example offered was one of 188 London to Edinburgh variants built and was delivered new with desirable features of a larger gas tank and 4-speed gearbox, which the factory normally referred to as Colonial or Continental specification motor cars, of which only a handful are known to survive today. With a history including military service, this remarkable concours-restored matching numbers motorcar is presented with bespoke period coachwork by Peele and has an estimate of $1,450,000 – 1,850,000.


1963 Shelby Cobra 260, estimate $750,000 – 950,000

Also representing the event's sport theme will be a 1963 Shelby Cobra 260. The Cobra was the brainchild of the all-American automotive designer and racing driver, Carroll Shelby, who combined the AC Ace chassis with a high-performance Ford engine to create his intercontinental sportscar. This early car was the 47th example produced and powered by the original 260 cubic-inch engine, with distinct early-production features. Owned by just a few long-time California keepers, the Cobra has retained its original bodywork and drivetrain. Its estimate is $750,000 – 950,000.

Made in the USA
Pre-war American automobiles are led by a concours-condition 1933 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Sedan, estimate $400,000 – 500,000, one of only 11 surviving examples of the powerful luxury art deco motor car, styled by LeBaron. Another 'knockout' example is the 1928 Chrysler Imperial Series L Two-Door Custom Roadster, estimate $125,000 – 175,000. It was understood to have been bought new by the former heavyweight World Champion boxer Jack Dempsey, known as the 'Manassa Mauler'. Beautifully presented, featuring coachwork by Locke & Company, it was the 1974 AACA First Prize winner and more recently an occasional Concours d'Elegance exhibit.


1913 Alco Five-Passenger Touring Car, estimate $350,000 – 450,000

A Rhode Island 'local hero' will also be offered: a 1913 Alco Five-Passenger Touring Car, estimate $350,000 – 450,000. Produced by the USA's foremost manufacturer of heavy locomotives, this is a very rare and original example of one of the few motorcars built in The Ocean State and is offered publicly for the first time.

Other highlights include:

1962 Aston Martin DB4 Series III saloon, estimate $250,000 – 300,000. An original left-hand drive example of the third series of the marque's first Touring Superleggera-designed sportscar, distinguished by its separate rear lights and two bonnet stays. The 1962 New York Show car, it featured a Motorola radio, chrome wheels, and overdrive.

1959 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud 1 Drophead Coupé, coachwork by H.J. Mulliner, estimate $400,000 – 500,000. One of only 11 left-hand drive H.J Mulliner examples built, this Silver Cloud was ordered new by S. Prestley Blake, founder of the Friendly's diner chain and noted motorcar collector, who owned it for more than 40 years.

1964 Chevrolet Corvette 327/365 Coupe Race Car, estimate £200,000 – 250,000. A genuine period racing Corvette, owned and raced from new by renowned Canadian privateer racer Laurie Craig, with victories including being the overall winner of the 1966 Westwood Player's Pacific Championship Series. The Corvette was also driven in period by British racing greats Stirling Moss and Ken Miles at Westwood.

The sale will also offer contemporary and future classics in the guise of a 1994 Lamborghini Diablo SE30, estimate $400,000 – 475,000; a rare 2009 Spyker C8 'Laviolette' Coupé, estimate $300,000 – 400,000, which has covered fewer than 700 miles from new; and a single-owner collection led by a 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT Coupé – the spiritual successor to the 300 SL – estimate $175,000 – 225,000.

The Bonhams Audrain Concours Auction
Taking place on Friday, October 1 in the event's Concours Village, the traditional live sale will offer the 42 of the finest examples representing all eras of the automobile from the dawn of motoring to the classics of the future.

Bids will be accepted from clients in the room (respecting social distancing and all local COVID-related guidelines), and the sale will also be streamed and available on the Bonhams App and Bonhams.com, providing registered bidders the opportunity to bid in real time online while watching the auctioneer and videos of cars on offer. Absentee and telephone bids are also encouraged.

All lots will be available to view on Thursday September 30, 9am – 6pm and on Friday October 1, 9am to 5pm.

Contact [email protected] for further details and to register.

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