Bonhams MPH – classic car auction – May 2021

A walk around video of the Bonhams MPH preview.
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Yesterday was a bit of a hectic day viewing both Silverstone Auctions (at Stoneleigh Park near Coventry), and Bonhams MPH (at Bicester Heritage), and meant a 300 mile round trip with plenty of traffic and rain). Bonhams MPH is always a bit of an odd auction for me. The location should be fantastic, but the big hangar always manages to appear a bit dingy and unsuitable. There is a mix of cars, but some of them aren’t applicable for a classic auction, plenty are just in terrible condition, and plenty don’t match the image that I thought MPH was going for. However, it’s nice to see pre war cars at auction, and there is always something I can find to like.

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This isn’t going to be one of my longer posts, just because there aren’t so many cars that really appealed to me. This 1990 Citroën BX 4×4 GTi did though, for curiosity’s sake as much as anything. Guided at £4,000 – £8,000 it’s an affordable and interesting classic car that most buyers could actually use. It may not be in as good condition as the vendor appears to think, but if you sorted a few of the minor cosmetic issues I believe it could be a nice car to own and enjoy.

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Next up is a 1972 Datsun 240Z. A left hand drive car that is now fitted with a manual gearbox in place of its original auto, and with a few other minor modifications such as the modern style wheels. The colour caught my eye, but the condition also appears very nice, and with a guide of £23,000 – £29,000 it doesn’t seem too unreasonable for one of these. A couple of years ago I’d have really loved to own one, but now I think I’d rather enjoy driving one than owning it. I think there is also scope for mechanical modification on this particular car.

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Much later on in the auction comes lot 102, a 1988 Mercedes-Benz 500SE, which appears to have incredibly low mileage. It looks great, is in fantastic condition, and the interior smells just wonderful. It is a one owner car that has been dry stored through its life, and the odometer reads just 8,400 miles. While it may not be my favourite car of the auction, I think it could easily be the best buy of the sale with a guide of just £15,000 – £20,000.

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The next lot is one of three project Aston Martins, with this one being a 1971 DBS V8. All three are in a dilapidated state and requiring restoration, which I can imagine is both painful and expensive, as they look like they’ve been stored in open sheds. This car looks solid enough at a glance, but no doubt it has a few hidden surprises for its new owner. Guided at £30,000 – £40,000 it’s hardly cheap, either, but it has a certain charm about it.

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If you’ve never seen a 1914 Simplex LaFrance Speedster, then I won’t be surprised. The name ‘speedster’ may seem a little incongruous given what looks to be a truck chassis and the 9,500cc four cylinder engine, but compared to the other vehicles the company manufactured, I suppose it is. The car features a three speed manual gearbox, chain driven rear axle and 24” wooden wheels shod with Michelin tyres, and used a modern electric starter motor (which anyone would be glad to have). I can imagine this car is exhilarating and terrifying to drive in equal measure, but what a thing it is! Guided at £60,000 – £80,000.

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Lot 120 is my absolute favourite car of the auction, and the only car that I really wanted to look at from this auction. It is a project, unsurprisingly, but a rather special one. This is a 1935 Bentley 3 1/2 litre, which just happens to be missing its engine block… It is in a rather sorry state, with hand painted bodywork and an ugly plastic sunroof, but it is also a lovely looking car and one I’d love to be able to drive. Logic says it would be a sensible car to convert to an EV, but I’d rather find a block and try and mechanically restore it into what it once was. It’s been sat since 1996, so the chances are slim, but what a car to save! Guided at £10,000 – £15,000.

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Finally, another project car of a similar age, this 1934 Talbot Lago T120 ‘Baby’, which I think looks rather sporting. Also guided at £10,000 – £15,000 and also needing to be restored, this little car has a great history, competing in rallies and other events. Fitted with a 3 litre engine and Wilson pre selector gearbox this should be an engaging driving experience when restored. I made a point in the YouTube video at the top of the page that without younger people being able to see an experience pre war cars like this, then they will soon die out. I hope that I’ll have one of my own reasonably soon so that I can hopefully help preserve them too.

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