Tomorrow is Historic’s first sale of the year at Ascot Racecourse. Initially planned for today, the auction has been moved to make way for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. As always, there are plenty of interesting cars on offer, and even a couple that I would like to be able to come home with. Below are a few of the cars that caught my eye whilst I was walking around. Viewing an auction always proves to be interesting, as cars you believed would appeal, don’t, and cars that you’d not paid attention to on the lot list suddenly become much more appealing – so viewing is always essential.
First up on the lot list is lot number 158, which is a rather interesting 1968 Sunbeam Stiletto, which has been fitted with a Rover K-Series engine, producing around 120hp, and featuring fast road cams, forged pistons and a modified flywheel, and this engine is mated to a UNI gearbox as you’d find in a Lotus Esprit. I nearly bought a modified Hillman Imp a few years ago, and whilst this one doesn’t appeal as greatly as that one did, I still think it has the potential to be a fun purchase for not a lot of money. The bodywork is showing signs of rust in areas and crazing in the paint, but nothing that would stop you from enjoying it at the moment from what I saw. I’m curious to find out if I could easily drive one of these, as the pedals are absolutely tiny, and I got my toes stuck getting past the steering column (however I was wearing toecapped boots, which obviously doesn’t help).
Following on shortly after is lot 161, which is completely different to the Stiletto featured above. This 1996 Bentley Continental R has been owned by one family from new – and has only covered 1,916 miles in its lifetime, which seems like a true waste. However, it is utterly gorgeous and in wonderful condition. No doubt this car will never see high mileage and is most likely destined to be owned by collectors who will keep it in the same condition it is in now. That said, I do hope that it sells to someone who will enjoy it as a car rather than an investment. I’m also curious to see the final sale value, as I don’t believe the guide of £68,000-£78,000 is in any way extortionate.
The next lot was one of those that caught me by surprise whilst viewing the auction, and I found myself walking back past it more than a couple of times. I’ve never been a true fan of the looks of the Mercedes W123 (or green cars), but this 1982 280 TE Estate ‘Seven Seat’ (Lot 164) really does present well, and the seats in the boot are one of the things that really sold it to me. On both front doors there are the remains of the crest of the original owner, Lord Hanson. This car is guided at £13,000 – £18,000.
Quite possibly the most beautiful car in this, or any, auction is lot 213, a 1963 Facel Vega II, which I believe has previously been sold by Historics (prior to the restoration). This car is one of only 26 right hand drive examples built, and underwent a ground up restoration that was completed last year (with 125 hours spent on the paintwork alone). It was also the 1963 London Motor Show car, and I can only imagine what an impact it must have made there. It also spent 25 years in a barn prior to being recovered in 2017, and subsequently restored. The elegance of the exterior is matched beautifully with the interior, in which anyone would be happy to spend time. Guided at £260,000 – £310,000 this isn’t a car for ordinary people like you and I, but its still one I admire.
Next up is lot 217, a car I expected to like, but one that ended up making quite an impact. This 1937 Ford V8 Model 78 Saloon. This is a rare right hand drive model, making it more useable for some UK buyers, and features a floor shift manual transmission, which again makes it easier for those that struggle with a column shift. The 3.6l flathead V8 may not be popular with some, but I’ve always enjoyed them, and for a V8 I believe they represent a small amount of luxury, being quiet on idle but making its presence known as it revs out. This car is one of just over 4,000 built in the UK between January 1937 and June 1938 – and I’m sure we can all imagine how few of those still exist today. To me, this is a perfectly useable and enjoyable classic that would be well suited to semi regular use on nice days when time isn’t a worry. It is offered with no reserve.
Lot 229 is an Aston Martin that I find increasingly appealing, a 1990 Virage. Auction prices have never matched up to listings you can find easily online, but actually represent a more reasonable view on what these cars are worth. I won’t pretend that it is the most desirable Aston that you could buy (even in this price range), but I like its mildly brutish looks. This particular example has only covered 38,000 miles, but has been treated to an ‘extensive’ engine rebuild, and front end rebuild including suspension components. It has also been fitted with larger 18 inch alloy wheels and new tyres, as it isn’t an uncommon complaint that these were underwheeled from the factory. This car has been guided at £24,000 – £36,000.
Lot 232 is another car that surprised me during my viewing. I’ve never seen the appeal of Ferrari’s Mondial, but this 1988 QV GTB could be a nice starter Ferrari for someone, and at the guide price I wouldn’t mind that being me. This car has an MOT until February next year, was serviced just 200 miles ago, fitted with new tyres and comes with a £450 car cover, along with a luggage case, bags and an umbrella. This car is guided at £24,000 – £29,000.
My final pick from this auction, and quite possibly my favourite, is this lovely little 1954 Mercedes-Benz 170 SV. It isn’t often that you see Mercedes of this age come to auction in the UK, and that combined with the condition certainly made it stand out for me. This car has spent 37 years of its life under the ownership of a well known owner’s club member, and during that time there was great expenditure (totalling nearly £19,000), most of which was undertaken by marque specialist John Haynes. The 1700cc side valve engine is described as running smoothly, and the four speed column shift gearbox changes easily. I was quite impressed that a car of this age had synchromesh on all four gears! Guided at £21,000 – £25,000, I’m curious to see how much this little Mercedes sells for.