Auctions

Bonhams Members’ Meeting Sale Brings £5M from a Range of Enthusiast Classics

by John Mayhead
17 April 2024 3 min read
Bonhams Members’ Meeting Sale Brings £5M from a Range of Enthusiast Classics
(Image courtesy YouTube/Goodwood Road & Racing)

The Members’ Meeting Sale, the first of three annual Bonhams auctions held at Goodwood, proved an interesting one. Squeezed into its usual space behind the Chicane Grandstand, the Bonhams tent – and the space outside it – were packed with a fair collection of stock classics.

Traditionally, this early-season Bonhams event doesn’t attract the top cars that appear later at the Festival of Speed and Revival auctions, and once again that proved to be the case. In all, 69 per cent of cars sold for an average of £71,920 and totaling £5,034,387. The most expensive car on offer was a delivery-mileage Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR ‘Crown Edition’ that sold well over its £300,000 top estimate for £425,500 including costs, but most of the lots were in the sub-£100K enthusiast zone. Following a trend that has been common in 2024 auctions so far, around a quarter of lots were offered at no reserve.

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2008 Mercedes McLaren SLR Crown Edition
(Bonhams)

A few cars drew all the attention, especially during viewing. A 1927 3-Litre Bentley, garaged for over 50 years, looked every part the ‘barn find’ promised in the catalogue. And it duly enticed bidders, who pushed the value to just over £100,000, twice the low estimate. An AC Ace, stored for a similar length of time, also drew a huge amount of interest but fell short of its low estimate of £120,000 and did not sell. Other bidders found bargains, though: A Volkswagen Type 2 commercial that looked great in Porsche livery sold for just £9200, and a pair of WW2-era Jeeps, complete with trailers, each sold well under estimate. The Hagerty Price Guide has listed a good Ford GPW or Willys MB Jeep as worth £25,000 to £30,000 for many years; the most expensive of these two sold for just £18,400.

For MG marque enthusiasts like myself, the highlight of the sale was a car that appeared at the last Goodwood auction, that of the 2023 Revival, but the sale fell through. For those entranced by prewar motorsport, the Q-Type MG is a gem. Just a handful were built for racing in 1934, based on a narrowed K3 chassis with a 750cc supercharged engine. One was purchased by the famous Bellevue Garage MG dealership in Wandsworth, originally in two-seater form, but modified into a single-seater for the 1935 season, during which it was raced by two of the Evans family who ran Bellevue – Kenneth and his younger sister Doreen.

The car drew a huge amount of attention, especially when the beautiful and very competent Doreen drove it, and clocked up an impressive list of starts at Brooklands, Shelsley Walsh, Prescott, and elsewhere. Sold on, it continued to race and, over the years, continued to be modified and developed, at one point even gaining a Gypsy Major aero engine. Finally, stripped to a chassis, it was sold with a group of parts and left until the late 1990s, when Tom Dark rebuilt the car back to original Bellevue form. In 2007, it returned to race at the Goodwood Revival, where it was clocked at nearly 150mph on the Lavant Straight.

Estimated at £140,000 to £180,000, the car sold on Sunday for just £103,500, including commission. Given its rather flamboyant history, it was never going to make what a fully original Q-Type or K3 would demand, but this is still a huge amount of car for the money, and a racer that would undoubtedly be very competitive if it returned to the track – surely the place it deserves to be.

Other notable no-sales included two cars expected before the event to bring big money. A 1954 Bentley R-Type Continental fastback, one of just 208 produced, failed to reach its low estimate of £450,000, as did a 1936 Lagonda LG45 Rapide Tourer – one of just 25 built and coming from long-term ownership. Perhaps we will see them again at the Festival of Speed or Revival auctions later this year, where they may have greater odds of changing hands.

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