Bonhams, London, October 30, 2020 There was no London to Brighton Veteran Car Run but the Spirit Lives

CoViD claimed another victim when the 2020 London to Brighton Veteran Car Run was cancelled.

That didn’t deter Bonhams from celebrating veteran and vintage cars (and a road locomotive) on October 30. Re-branded “The Golden Age of Motoring” there was a diverse consignment of vehicles dating from 1900 to 1939. Out of 34 lots offered, fourteen were built before the onset of hostilities in World War I.

The star of the show was the 1932 Fowler B6 Showman’s Road Locomotive from the collection of Arthur and Frank Thomson, a gigantic, flamboyantly decorated and painted steamer. Built to haul a train of rides from field-to-field, then to power the rides, it was fantastic, a behemoth that deserves inclusion in a J.K. Rowling fantasy.

It was an intriguing auction with live bidders socially distanced through three galleries of Bonhams Bond Street premises, other bidders online and a busy rank of phones. Malcolm Barber presided, working with at least two remote cameras in other Bonhams galleries and a steady stream of online and phone bidders.

Malcolm was specific in identifying bidders from the various sources that facilitated following the action in the online feed.

In the end, despite a disappointing sale rate, the total was Bonhams best-ever for this specialized auction venue, but they’ve never had a Fowler B6 before, either.

Here are the numbers. 2019 and earlier results are from Bonhams title sponsor LBVCR auction.

Year Cars Sold/ Offered Sale % Sold < Low Est Sold > High Est Average Sale Median Sale Total $ Exchange Rate
2020 19/34 55.9% 63.2% 10.5% $223,343 $117,046


$4,243,511 $1,2933
2019 12/15 80% 41.7% 33.3% $129,957 $56,592


$1,559,478 $1.2950
2018 12/13 92.3% 41.7% 0% $211,223 $89,459


$2,534,681 $1.2965
2017 25/26 96.2% 18% 32% $122,158 $76,599


$3,053,941 $1.3067

This report is based on Bonhams catalog, online descriptions and online photos. Photos are courtesy of Bonhams. Lots are sorted by lot number.

Lot # 204 1928 Lancia Lambda 8th Series Grande Luxe 4-Dr. Sedan; S/N 19228; Olive Green, Black fenders/Tan leather; Estimate $90,531 – $129,330; Recent restoration 3+ condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $77,598. – RHD. 2,570/69hp overhead camshaft 13° 40′ V-4, 4-speed, wire wheels, Weymann-style fabric covered body with metal hood and fenders, rear compartment footrests, rear-mounted spare. – Mediocre paint with flecks and nicks, weak brightwork plating, very good upholstery, interior trim and woodwork. A long term restoration completed in 2018 that is showing the age of some of the work. A weekend tour quality presentation. – Sold by Bonhams at Olympia, London as an incomplete restoration project in 2006 for $23,894 (£12,075) and restored over a dozen years with the duration of the restoration showing in its current presentation. Most Lambdas have gotten open coachwork over the years making this Grande Luxe Sedan something special even if today’s collectors prefer open cars for use in sunny summer weather. Those who might have appreciated it for its authenticity, however were missing today in London and it isn’t a surprise that the restorer/owner preferred to keep it rather than accepting the high bid.

Lot # 205 1920 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 40/50hp Doctor’s Convertible Coupe; S/N 26TE; Black, Aluminum bonnet/Brown leather; Black top; Estimate $103,464 – $129,330; Rebodied or re-created 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $102,171 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $117,496. – RHD. 7,428/70hp inline six, 3-speed, black wire wheels, single sidemount, rumble seat, nickel brightwork. – Originally a Thrupp & Maberly limousine with a Doctor’s Coupe body fitted in the U.S. in the 80’s and converted to convertible in the UK in 1992. Aged paint with many nicks and scratches, dull aluminum bonnet. Worn and cracked old upholstery. The engine compartment is orderly but aged and used. An honest old Ghost that isn’t trying to hide its miles. – Sold by Christie’s at Beaulieu in 1992 for $81,800 (£44,000). Other than maintenance and many touring miles it is in pretty much the same condition as it was nearly three decades ago. That didn’t matter to the bidders, who appreciated its style and quality and gave it this reasonable result. An enjoyable car for tours and a moderately-priced Silver Ghost.

Lot # 206 1903 Thornycroft 20hp Four-Cylinder Double Phaeton; S/N BZ14; Dark Red, Gold coachlines/Dark Red leather; Black leather cape top; Estimate $439,722 – $465,588; Older restoration 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $342,725 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $394,133. – RHD. 2 1/2-Litre four-cylinder with atmospheric intake valves, 3-speed, electric starter added, wood spoke wheels, dogleg windshield, cape-style top over the rear seat, leather-bound luggage trunk, willow running board basket, umbrella basket, boa constrictor bulb horn, kerosene sidelights and tail lights, acetylene headlights. – Start #206 in the (cancelled) 2020 LBVCR. Owned by Tom Thornycroft, a founder of the company, until 1957, restored in the late 80’s and a multiple LBVCR finisher with a 100% finishing record. It’s been (carefully) used for decades and it shows in the finishes. Some of the brass (and there is a lot of it) could do with a polish and there is some leakage in the engine compartment but that only goes to show how well it was restored and maintained. – There aren’t many Thornycroft comparables, as there aren’t many surviving Thornycrofts. There is one in the auction database, a 1909 30hp Open Drive Landaulette sold by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival in 2007 for $139,227. Both the history and the coachwork of this 20hp Double Phaeton are more appealing. It was loose and selling at a £260,000 bid and attracted 18 bids online, on the phone and in the room before selling to a live bidder at Bond Street. The result is well under the pre-sale low estimate of £340,000 ($440,000) but the all-in price of almost $400,000 is not pocket change even taking into account the LBVCR history and prospects.

Lot # 210 1932 Alta 1 1/2-Litre Supercharged Sports; S/N 16; Red/Black leather; No top; Estimate $96,998 – $122,864; Competition restoration 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $102,171 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $117,496. – RHD. 1.5 litre DOHC, supercharged, single SU carburetor, 4-speed, black wire wheels, dual aeroscreens, tapered tail, cycle fenders. – Later body from the Alta factory, engine uses one cylinder block/head casting from an 8C Alfa Romeo and supercharger from a Maserati 4CL, horsepower output unknown. Good paint, worn old upholstery, well-used but also well-maintained engine, chassis and brakes. A rarely seen marque in highly usable condition. – There’s not a lot of original Alta in this lot, but that’s probably a characteristic shared by most Altas. There were only 13 built and just 5 are believed to survive. It’s eligible for many events, a valuable attraction. There were 18 online, phone and live bids. The reserve was met at £70,000 (about $91,000) but the bidders kept going through eight more bids before a phone bidder took it at this result. It’s an attractive historic race car bought for a reasonable price.

Lot # 211 1901 Panhard-Levassor Type A2 7hp Twin Rear Entrance Tonneau; S/N 3114; Brewster Green, Black accents/Black leather; Estimate $290,993 – $355,658; Recent restoration 2+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $362,124 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $416,443. – RHD. 1,648/7hp (RAC) Daimler-Phenix inline twin, 3-speed, electric starter added, tonneau cover, BRC Alpha self-generating acetylene headlights, Bleriot tail lamp, Le Teste horn, modified bonnet as found but a period correct refinished P-L bonnet is included. – Entry No. 35 in this year’s (cancelled) LBVCR. The rear tonneau has been re-created. VCC dated. High quality brush-applied paint, tight and fresh upholstery, bright brass. Believed to have been in Schlumpf collection for a few years, then traded to Mercedes-Benz in a package deal where it remained from 1965-2010 when it was part of a package acquired by the Louwman Collection. Restored from 2012-2019. Fresh and crisp. – Impressively restored and maintained, VCC-dated for an early LBVCR starting position and with proven performance on the Brighton Run, this is an antique of exceptional quality, performance and provenance. It attracted spirited bidding with bidders in the Bonhams auction rooms, on the phones and online trying the usual tricks to scare off the competition with pre-emptive bids that didn’t pre-empt, slow bids and rapid response bids. In the end it took 36 bids to drag it above its pre-sale high estimate and find its new home with a German bidder who will appreciate the Daimler-Phenix 2-cylinder engine’s origins. It is an expensive acquisition but it needs nothing other than sympathetic storage and maintenance to be ready for the LBVCR in 2021.

Lot # 215 1929 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport Tourer; S/N 40764; Blue/Black leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $349,191 – $426,789; Older restoration 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $349,191 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $401,570. – RHD. 1,496/45hp, single overhead camshaft 3-valve/cylinder inline-four, 4-speed, 4-wheel mechanical brakes, cycle fenders, raked windshield, wind wings, Lucas headlights and starter, single right sidemount spare, body color wire wheels, full weather equipment including a tonneau cover, Jaeger gauges. – From the estate of Tony Clark who owned it since 1957. Self-restored by Clark over a period of some 20 years, then used consistently over the years. Sound brush-applied old paint, surface cracked and worn old upholstery that is still intact and usable. Dull brightwork. The engine compartment shows its age and miles but needs nothing more than continued care and attention. A charming little Bugatti. – An honest old Bugatti that has been a feature of UK events for decades with Tony Clark and his family. Its 45hp may not be much but with the Type 40’s lightweight construction and minimal body it will perform well both on the road and in events. Its condition isn’t up to contemporary standards, but that’s not the point. It has a marvelous history and provenance and is a car to be driven with spirit. The result is consistent with similar Type 40s sold in the past year.

Lot # 217 1924 Vauxhall 30-98 OE Type Velox Tourer; S/N OE165; Dark Red, Black fenders/Black leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $323,325 – $387,990; Older restoration 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $290,993 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $334,641. – RHD. 4,224/120hp pushrod overhead valve inline 4-cylinder, single carburetor, 4-speed, black wire wheels, dual sidemounts, 4-wheel brakes (described as being of dubious effectiveness). – Represented as matching numbers including chassis, axles, steering box, engine, gearbox and body. Single owner since 1968. Restored over ten years by Arthur Archer and still in excellent condition today with very good paint, sound and only lightly creased upholstery that looks decades newer than its reported 23 years. Dull nickel radiator shell. A commendably original and complet 30-98 OE that is hundreds of pounds lighter than its Bentley counterparts. – This is the third of the fall crop following Gooding’s Wensum Tourer that sold for over $1.6 million a month ago in London and Bonhams OE188 at Goodwood two weeks ago that was bid to $219,817 (£170,000.) Unlike OE188, however, this Velox Tourer is represented as impressively complete and matching numbers right down to the axles, steering box and body, a marvelous sporting car of the Golden Age celebrated by Bonhams in this auction and is a sound value for the new owner.

Lot # 219 1938 Lagonda V12 Drophead Coupe, Body by James Young; S/N 14036; Green/Olive Green leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $155,196 – $181,062; Older restoration 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $148,730 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $171,039. – RHD. 4,475/175hp overhead camshaft V12, 4-speed, rear wheel skirts, fog lights, fender mirrors, full tool tray. – First owned by Lagonda chairman Alan Good. Bought from him by Alfred Moss, father of Sir Stirling Moss. Known history from new. Sound, surface creased, buffed through original upholstery. Tight fitting top with landau bars. The paint, even though it is 23 years old, is uniformly good and the engine compartment is orderly and clean. – Sold by Bonhams at the RAF Museum sale in 2015 for $231,738 (£152,700), the estimate here is £120,000-140,000 and the successful hammer bid is £115,000. The intriguing history is that Lagonda chairman Good sent his personal Lagonda V12 to James Young for coachwork despite Lagonda having its own accomplished designers and coachworks. That and the Alfred Moss history (did young Stirling take it out for driving lessons?) make this an especially notable Lagonda V12 yet it brought a moderate price even though it is consistent with the pre-sale estimate of £120,000-140,000.

Lot # 222 1933 Lagonda M45 4 1/2-Litre Tourer; S/N Z10528; Black/Blue leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $258,660 – $323,325; Modified restoration 3 condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $232,794. – RHD. 4,453/145hp, Meadows overhead valve inline six, two SU carburetors, 4-speed, banjo spoke steering wheel, rear-mounted spare, Lucas headlights, fog light, silver wire wheels, full weather equipment, FIVA card, build sheet copy documented. – Tired but sound two decade old paint. Cracked and creased but sound old upholstery. Tape wrapped steering wheel rim. Aged but orderly old engine compartment. New top and side curtains. Later Sanction 4 crankcase but the original is included. Doesn’t appear ever to have been fully restored although there was a body-off mechanical restoration in 1999. Well-used but also consistently maintained. – Before W.O. Bentley’s V12 could be designed and developed Lagonda relied upon the tried-and-true 4 1/2 Litre Meadows six, a pushrod overhead valve that had proven both its performance and reliability. Designed and developed in the traditional way (relying on the experiences of early purchasers to identify faults and shortcomings) the Lagonda M45 was eventually developed into a reliable, fast and comfortable chassis that with various wheelbase lengths could be adapted to everything from a performance sports model to a roomy limousine. This M45 is a good example of the former, with attractive Lagonda designed and built coachwork. The reported high bid is appropriate for its condition, however, and should have received serious consideration from the consignor.

Lot # 223 1936 Rolls-Royce Phantom III Sedanca deVille, Body by Gurney Nutting; S/N 3AX109; Cream, Beige front fenders and accent/Beige leather; Estimate $103,464 – $116,397; Older restoration 3+ condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $77,598. – RHD. 7,338/165hp V12, 4-speed, rear wheel skirts, dual sidemounts, wire wheels, blackwall tires, fender mirrors, fog light, full tool tray, jump seats, rollup division – Described as first owned by the Marquess of Queensberry. Very good older repaint from an 80’s restoration in the U.S. The upholstery and interior trim are very good with only expected stretching from years of intermittent use. The engine compartment is clean and orderly with a little coating of oily mist. Most of the chrome is sound although starting to age. A stately automobile that is still impressive but burdened by a bland livery. – Sold by Bonhams at Olympia in 2018 for $175,840 (£138,000), the estimate here is only £80,000-90,000 and the reported high bid, £60,000, is even less. It is hard to find much to like about this PIII with its stiff coachwork, aging restoration and gaudy colors. It looks like it should be front door decoration for a pretentious restaurant. The successful hammer bid it brought two years ago was double what it could get today, a sad commentary on its visage.

Bonhams has a YouTube video of “The Lion” on the road here. It’s worth watching.

Lot # 226 1932 Fowler 10hp B6 Showman’s Road Locomotive “The Lion”; S/N 19782; Red, Brass and Gold leaf accents /; Estimate $1,034,640 – $1,551,960; Recent restoration 1 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $1,034,640 plus commission of 13.88%; Final Price $1,178,196. – LHD. 10hp compound steam, 3-speeds, solid rubber tires, winch, car lifting crane, long awning, chimney extension, flywheel brake. – A “compound locomotive with three speeds” using a set of three gears selected while at rest — shifting such a behemoth on the move defies the imagination. The first of four Class B6 road locomotives built. Used by Anderton & Rowlands traveling showgrounds until 1946, passing to Arthur Thompson in 1995 from the estate of Ernie Lucas who had preserved it since 1950. A two and one-half year restoration to like new condition followed. The attention to detail, magnificent polished brass, coachlining and gold leaf embellishments are spectacular. Most remarkable is that this steam behemoth was built in 1932, while Cadillac was building V16 motor cars. But it is a “Showman’s” road locomotive and would have drawn a crowd in every English village it passed, then at the showground driving the rides that it towed behind in a flamboyant parade. It is nothing if not spectacular, in both function and appearance. Consigned by Arthur Thomson’s brother Frank. – A symphony of brass, paint, gold leaf and mechanical syncopation, so huge it is difficult to gain an appreciation for its immense size until finding the brass steering wheel with its matching Brodie Knob to give a sense of human scale. It is nothing if not spectacular, spectacularly presented and an epic vehicle. The reserve was met at £720,000, $931,000; it took twelve more bids, live and on the phone, to see it sold at, for all intents and purposes, a million dollars on the hammer. It had been steamed into Bonhams Bond Street courtyard for pre-auction display requiring, according to auctioneer Malcolm Barber, “a 22-point turn” to make the corner. The Central London traffic congestion charge must have been notable. Announced by Bonhams as sold to the Saunders Steam Collection in Bedfordshire, new generations of boys will now be able to follow it through British lanes and marvel at its size, a road-going mastodon. Magnificent.

Lot # 228 1923 Vauxhall 23-60 Type OD Malvern Tourer; S/N OD720; Engine # OD723; Green, Black fenders, aluminum bonnet/Black leather; Black leatherette top; Estimate $84,065 – $96,998; Cosmetic restoration 3+ condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $64,665. – RHD. 3,969/60hp pushrod overhead valve inline 4-cylinder, single updraft carburetor, 4-speed, single sidemount, jump seats, single sidemount. – Very good recent repaint and upholstery. Chassis frame repainted over rust pits and old paint residue. Orderly engine compartment with some dull finishes and paint loss. Dull dashboard and instrument panel. One of some 1,300 built of which some 100 survive, a much lower survival rate than its better known and more powerful 30-98 OE contemporary. – It is only by comparison with its bigger and more famous 30-98 OE that this Vauxhall comes up short, a compact and enjoyable car with decent performance and advanced technology for the time. It was overlooked by the bidders at Bonhams at their peril, a sound and well-maintained car that even at its low $84,000 estimate would be a sound value.

Lot # 229 1903 Crestmobile Model D 5hp Runabout; S/N 308; Red, Black bonnet and accent/Black leather; Estimate $51,732 – $54,319; Older restoration 2- condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $38,799. – RHD. Tiller steering, electrified Badger Brass sidelights, 5hp single, 2-speed epicyclic gearbox, wicker umbrella holder, 12 volt starter, bulb horn. – Sympathetically restored to better than new condition and winner of the 2007 Regent Street Concours. VCC dated 1903 and completed the Brighton Run in 2012. Subsequently used for local events and the “Snail Trail”. Age and limited use shows but the Crestmobile is still in very presentable condition. – Sold by Paul McInnis at the Terry Bennett auction in New Hampshire in 1992 in older restored but usable condition for $19,250, by Bonhams at Olympia in 2007 after restorationwhere it brought $75,815 (£36,700) and by RM at London in 2009 for $54,536 (£33,000). A rudimentary automobile that never evolved beyond a powered carriage, appropriately overlooked by the Bonhams bidders.

Lot # 230 1936 MG SA Tourer, Body by Charlesworth; S/N SA0432; Pearl White, Beige accent/Tan leather; Beige cloth top; Estimate $103,464 – $129,330; Older restoration 2 condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $90,531. – RHD. 2,228/75hp overhead valve inline six, dual downdraft SU carburetors, 5-speed (from a Toyota), folding windshield, spotlight, driving light, chrome wire wheels, rear-mounted spare with cloth cover, headlight stoneguards, cowl-mounted semaphore turn indicators, grease gun, wheel hammer, jack, tire pump, spare spark plugs – A full restoration done in the early naughts but little used and carefully preserved since. One of 17 known surviving SA MGs, of which five (of 20 like it built) have this coachwork. Very good older paint, unblemished upholstery, interior trim and woodwork, bright chrome. Factory replacement engine. – Sold by RM from Gene Ponder’s collection in 2007 for $116,600 (£58,200) to John O’Quinn, then from the O’Quinn estate at Arizona in 2011 for $88,000 (£55,000). John O’Quinn wasn’t noted for being reticent about spending the vast cash flow from his class action law practice so what he paid is largely irrelevant but this MG SA is largely as it was when sold from his estate in 2011 and this result for a rare model and coachwork is consistent with its result in 2011.

Lot # 231 1925 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer, Body by Vanden Plas; S/N 1224; Engine # 1055SS; Black, Red frame/Red leather; Black cloth top; Estimate $323,325 – $387,990; Visually maintained, largely original 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $307,805 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $353,976. – RHD. 2,996/85hp inline single overhead cam 4-cylinder, dual SU ‘sloper’ carburetors, 4-speed, red wire wheels, rear-mounted spare, Lucas headlights, 4-wheel brakes, fabric covered body, painted aluminum bonnet. – Super Sports engine from chassis 1046. Same owner, Thomas Hugh Pasteur and his widow, since 1959, nearly six decades. Scratched, chipped and dull old paint, weak chrome, worn and stretched old upholstery. The engine compartment is as expected for the car’s history. It is the essence of patina and as honest as an old car can be. – Other than the replacement engine of appropriate type this is a straightforward correct Bentley 3-Liter with its original components enthusiastically owned and used for six decades by Thomas Hugh Pasteur. It has history, provenance and preservation in abundance and deserves to be driven and preserved in the spirit of its most recent long term owner. Its price is under the circumstances modest and appropriate.

Lot # 232 1911 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost 40/50hp Tulip-Backed semi open drive Pullman Limousine, Body by Joseph A. Lawton & Co; S/N 1543; Burgundy, Black fenders and accent/Black leather, Rose broadcloth; Estimate $1,293,300 – $1,681,290; Older restoration 3+ condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $1,163,970. – RHD. 7,428/70hp, 3-speed, parallel bonnet, speaking tube, pullup rear windows and division, smoker’s kit, vanity, drinks compartment and clock on the division, jump seats, pulldown silk shades, Stewart & Clark (Chicago) clock, Rushmore acetylene headlights, Lucas kerosene sidelights and opera lights, rooftop luggage rack, dual right side sidemounts, Autovox bulb horn, electric klaxon. – Some paint cracking, chips and joint cracks. Very good interior with lovely book-matched wood. The engine compartment is orderly but has seepage staining and some oil residue. Restored many years ago and reportedly driven 10-15,000 miles in the past quarter century. A famed early Silver Ghost with unique formal coachwork, featured in Melbourne Brindle’s Twenty Silver Ghosts. – Offered by Christie’s at Pebble Beach in 1995 where it was not sold with an undisclosed high bid. Sold later in 1995 to the consignor’s father who drove it from Florida to Boston before shipping it to England. A seriously elegant and imposing Silver Ghost even with its older restoration and extensive subsequent use, the coachwork from Joseph A. Lawton of Liverpool places it somewhat outside the more recognized coachbuilders to erected formal bodies on these superb chassis and that, and the restoration’s age, may account for the bidders’ reticence to push it well into seven-figures. The consignor could have given the reported high bid more credence without devaluing the car.

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