Bonhams MPH at Bicester Heritage – classic car auction preview – December 2020

It is time for the last few auctions of the year, and it seems that every auction house has decided that 12th December is the ideal time to hold their auctions, with Historics, CCA and Mathewsons all vying for the same customers on the same day (and with Bonhams MPH held just the day before). I spent yesterday running around three of these auctions to try and view all the cars I found interesting, and in case there might be one or two that may tempt me a little too much. I didn’t bother viewing at Mathewsons as it is all the way up in Yorkshire and I already know the car that I may be interested in there – and there are another couple that I could buy if the price is right irrespective of condition.

Second on my whistle stop tour was Bonhams MPH, which was situated in one of the large hangars at Bicester Heritage as it has been for other recent sales. Despite Bicester Heritage being such a fantastic venue, I was left disappointed at the display offered by Bonhams (especially having just left Historics, who always put on a slick display that is well organised and feels high end). The hangar at Bonhams was dark, cluttered and had a few too many low quality consignments. You couldn’t even squeeze between some of the cars due to how closely together they were parked, and that was probably due to the fact that there was also a motorcycle auction being held at the same time. I will stop moaning however, and get on with a few of the cars that I DID like.

Here is a quick walk around video of the Bonhams MPH sales preview. Apologies if it is a bit dark, there isn’t a lot I could do about that.
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First up on my list isn’t a car at all, though technically it does feature a few car parts and is worth mentioning both for the cool factor and because it is being sold as a fundraiser for Starter Motor, which is a charity that aims to get young people into classic cars, to use and maintain them, which I think is a brilliant aim. This is a no reserve lot with a guide of £5,000-£10,000, and it is easy to see the quality in it. If I had the space and the money for it, it would definitely be coming home with me!

The second lot that took my fancy (although more in the listing than when I saw it in person, admittedly), was this 1934 MG PA project. Yes, I love a project, but there is also something really quite fantastic about semi completed cars of this age that makes me day-dream about fitting a seat to it and driving it just as it is. Obviously I can’t, but its a dream nonetheless. The car is described as having had a lot of major work completed already, with the axles, gearbox, steering box already rebuilt. It also describes the engine as having been rebuilt, but the cylinder head not being currently fitted. Despite that, it seemed to be on the car when I saw it, so perhaps they mean it hasn’t been fitted properly and run, and has just been sat on top. The guide of £8,000-£10,000 doesn’t seem particularly cheap, but fortunately it is no reserve.

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Third up on my list was this particularly lovely XJ-S V12. I hadn’t paid it much attention in the listings as green paintwork and parchment leather do relatively little for me, but in the metal the car presents very well, with a nice shine and depth to the paintwork, a nice condition interior and clean engine bay. The only thing I didn’t really like was the glass sunroof, which Bonhams describe as factory fitted, but to my knowledge the factory only fitted metal versions, and even those are reasonably rare now. The mileage of 66,150 means that the running gear should have a very long life ahead of it, and interestingly the car was originally owned (and signed) by Sir David Jason, which may add to the value for some people. The guide of £8,000-£12,000 seems very reasonable to me. The car has been with the current owner since 1995 and has had three owners in total.

I’ve never driven a Morgan, and I’ll admit that they don’t always appeal to me as I find them very spec dependant. This one ticks a lot of boxes for me though, and interestingly it was the wheels that first drew my eye to it. This example is a 1938 4/4 Series 1 Roadster fitted with a Coventry Climax engine, and is only of roughly 900 cars built pre-war. It was restored in the early nineties, and had the engine and gearbox rebuilt and upgraded just over a decade ago. It is a pretty little car that sits nicely, and though the vendor mentions that it could benefit from a repaint, it looked perfectly reasonable to me. At a guide of £18,000-£24,000, this could be a lovely classic convertible for someone.

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Next up is one of the most beautiful saloon cars ever built, and one that deserved more of a spotlight than it received at this auction. The 1962 Bentley S2 Continental Sports Saloon doesn’t look overly large compared to a lot of cars built today, but I’m sure it was quite imposing when new. The car was repainted in 2008/2009 and has a history file detailing a great deal of expenditure over its lifetime, and with plenty of recent bills too. Quite possibly all the car you could ever need, and it is guided between £80,000-£120,000, which is a huge void and I’m curious to see what it does sell for.

Skipping quite far forward into the auction, the next lot that I really quite liked was this charming 1938 Rover 10 Coupé, which with a guide of £4,000-£6,000 and no reserve, seems like an utter bargain. It was restored in the late nineties and has been cared for and enjoyed by the vendor for the past 12 years. I really hope that this is bought by someone with youth on their side as this is exactly the sort of car that we need to get younger people interested in, or they won’t survive.

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The next car that I’ve decided to feature is my favourite car of the entire sale, and perhaps my favourite car of all three sales that I visited yesterday. It is utterly bonkers in every conceivable way, and I love it for it. This is no ordinary 2CV (nor even an M&S 2CV!), it is a twin-engined, 4×4 special built in the 1980s by frenchman Jack Hanon for desert racing. The chassis consists of two Citroen Ami frames cut and welded together with power (all 130hp of it) is supplied by a pair of Ami flat fours, which are situated at either end of the car. Both engines retain their own gearbox, with the gear lever being shared and there is one clutch pedal, and I can still only imagine that balancing those engines must be something of a nightmare. The car has 12″ of ground clearance, coil-sprung shock absorbers all the way around and inboard brakes at both the front and rear, which makes it sound like the perfect winter daily to me. The car comes with a USA registration and has been residing in Holland, meaning that UK registration may not be totally out of the question….

The final lot that I’ve decided to feature is a rather stunning Mercedes-Benz limousine. Built in 1961, this 300d ‘Adenauer’ was the last word in luxury and style when it was new, and I don’t think much has changed in the intervening years. It is a rare right hand drive car with an automatic gearbox, and is said to have a fantastic history file detailing many thousands spent. Guided at £50,000-£60,000, I do wonder if you really could need any more from a limousine than this.

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