Bonhams, London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, London, November 1, 2019

Bonhams is the title sponsor for the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run and their auction on the Friday before the Run itself is part of the weekend’s celebration of British motoring’s Emancipation from the infamous Red Flag law in 1905.

As the total sale figure of under $2 million shows, this isn’t much about profit — or even cost recovery — as it is about a shared passion and fascination with really early and innovative old cars … to the everlasting credit of Bonhams Motoring team for hosting it and the LBVCR.

This Bonhams auction brings an unusual opportunity for enthusiasts without a car built before January 1, 1905 to pick up a ride for Sunday: four of the fifteen lots were already entered for the Run.

Thoughtfully, Bonhams provided a familiarization gathering at the Emilia Restaurant in Haunch of Venison Yard behind their New Bond Street headquarters. There are no electronics in these old things (except the mobile phones carried by their passengers) and little that is mechanically automatic, either. Familiarization is essential to their successful operation and lubrication.

“Haunch of Venison Yard” melds mellifluously with the ancient vehicles offered by Bonhams with names and nicknames like “Le Papillon Bleu”, Vis a vis and Stanhope. It’s a part of the fascination of these really old motors, along with their diverse constructions and layouts.

This report is a departure from the usual presentation. No one reported directly on the cars so this report is created from careful reading of the catalog, a bit of research and perusal of the many photos on Bonhams website.

That means no one but Rick Carey bears any responsibility for the presentation.

(Except Bonhams catalog scribes, that is.)

Here are the numbers:

Year Cars Sold/ Offered Sale % Sold < Low Est Sold > High Est Average Sale Median Sale Total $ Exchange Rate
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% 48% 32% $122,158 $76,599


$3,053,941 $1.3067
2016 10/14 71.4% 60% 10% $154,437 $156,449


$1,544,366 $1.2546

All reports are based upon Bonhams highly informative catalog and the photos on Bonhams website. They are sorted by Lot Number.

Photos are courtesy of Bonhams and are credited to Simon Clay and Tom Wood.

Lot # 301 1900 Locomobile 5 1/2hp Steam Car Project; S/N Engine No. 526; Estimate $6,475 – $7,770; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 5- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $5,439 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $6,255. – Vertical boiler, copper water tank, 2-cylinder engine, spindle back seat and miscellaneous operating and chassis parts. – A daunting and highly incomplete assembly of iron that will challenge all but the most knowledgeable and informed steam enthusiasts around which to build a complete new car. – It might be kinda neat to have around the workshop for show and tell, but is more useful perhaps as a source of spare parts for a complete Locomobile steamer of the era. At the price here it could be either without being expensive. The more intriguing observation, though, is that this collection of iron sold while the Stanley 5 1/2hp Steamer offered at the end of the sale didn’t. Someone may have a useless collection of spare parts.

Lot # 302 1902 Peugeot Bébé 5 1/2hp Runabout; S/N Engine No. 5133L; Black, Brass hood accent/Black leather; Natural cloth top; Estimate $77,700 – $103,600; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $63,455. – RHD. Wheel steering, Burgundy wood spoke wheels, brass kerosene sidelights and taillight, bulb horn, single right sidemount. – Bought from the Paris Motor Show stand in 1902 with known history since 1946. A participant in the third postwar LBVCR in 1949 in exceptionally well-preserved condition since then. Later owned by Neil Corner and Martin Chisholm. Last made the trip to Brighton in 2012 and with some freshening should be ready for 2020. – A photo from circa 1949 shows this Peugeot with start number 62. By 2012 it had start number 240, conclusively illustrating the growth in popularity of this event and for the collection and maintenance in good operating condition of such veteran cars. There’s really no better way to understand how healthy the market for veteran cars is than this, even if it didn’t sell at this scanty bid.


Lot # 303 1904 Phoenix 4 1/2hp Tricar; S/N Engine No. 165; Black/Black; Estimate $34,965 – $45,325; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $34,965 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $40,210. – 3-wheeler with single driven rear wheel and a luxuriously appointed wicker frame leather upholstered single seat over the front axle. Peacock V-twin 477cc engine, dual Amal carburetors, handlebar steering, VCC dated. – A LBVCR regular over many years, most recently in 2018, in sound physical and cosmetic condition with a recent engine rebuild. – Sold for £20,000 ($36,798 at the time) at this sale in 2014 with subsequent work and maintenance. This result is £31,050 all-in. It has room for only two shivering, uncomfortable people, but its considerable performance that should minimize exposure and hypothermia on the way to Brighton.

Lot # 304 1902 Bartholomew 3 1/2hp High Wheeler; S/N 1; Engine # 19; Black, Red chassis/Ivory cloth; Estimate $36,260 – $46,620; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $21,959 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $25,253. – RHD. Wheel steering, varnished wood spoke wheels, kerosene lights, 2-stroke single-cylinder engine, VCC dated. – Home built by George Bartholomew in Russell, St. Lawrence County, New York. Owned by the Bartholomew family until 1949. Subsequently restored with at least two LBVCR completions to its credit. Sound and serviceable. – Also elemental, but coming from a time when home built automobiles were within the capability of mechanically inclined farmers and mechanics and became common. Finding an example like this, the sole example ever, is remarkable and indicative of the flowering of innovation in personal gasoline-powered transportation budding in the U.S. at the time. It took some effort for Bonhams to close this deal in a post-block negotiated transaction but both the seller and the buyer can be satisfied with it.

Lot # 305 1901 Panhard-Levassor Type A2 7hp Twin-Cylinder Rear Entrance Tonneau, Body by J. Rothschild et Fils; S/N 3010; Engine # 3010; Light Cambridge Blue/Scarlet cloth; Estimate $259,000 – $323,750; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $498,575 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $573,361. – RHD. 2-cylinder Daimler-Phenix engine, Bleriot acetylene headlights, kerosene sidelights and taillights, Burgundy wood spoke wheels, “hunting coat” cloth upholstery, Elliott speedometer and odometer. – Built to special order for Chevalier Rene de Knyff, racing driver and eventually manager of Panhard & Levassor, winner of 5 of 18 early city-to-city races in France from 1898-1903 and later President of the Commission Sportive International, predecessor to the FIA. Later christened Le Papillon Bleu by second owner Sir Leslie Bucknall’s daughter, a brass banner it has proudly worn ever since. Participated in the first “Old Crocks Run”, predecessor to the LBVCR, in 1927 and again in 1928 driven by its then-owner, G. Roger Wakeling. Restored in the 1970’s. Completed 25 of 27 LBVCRs with the present owner and good enough to win the Concours d’Elegance award at the Regent Street Motor Show in 2016 as well as being an entrant (#106) for this year’s LBVCR. – With an unblemished and recognized history, a first owner central to the development of the motor car and motor racing in France, sympathetically maintained and preserved condition and an outstanding participation in the LBVCR since its first running as the “Old Crocks Run” in 1927, this is an extraordinary piece of automobile history. It blew its pre-sale estimate into smithereens, an unexpected but fully deserved result.

Lot # 306 1899 Star Benz 3 1/2hp Vis-a-vis; S/N None; Burgundy, Black fenders/Black leather; Estimate $90,650 – $116,550; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; No Reserve; Hammered Sold at $155,400 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $178,710. – RHD. Wheel steering, kerosene sidelights, horizontal single-cylinder, belt drive to double chains, wire spoke wheels with solid rubber tires. – Discovered in 1932, entered in the 1938 LBVCR, suffered bomb damage in the war and has a reconstructed body. Multiple successful LBVCRs into the 70’s, then museum displayed until 2015 with subsequent LBVCR participations. Aged, but orderly and presentable. – And slow, but it will have an early start number (it was 27 in 2017) and plenty of time to get to Brighton while the driver practices getting out of the way of faster later starters. This is a generous price, though, for an early start number and an obscure but very British marque.

Lot # 307 1900 MMC 6hp “Charette” Rear Entrance Tonneau; S/N 290; Green, Black, Red coachlines/Black leather; Estimate $284,900 – $336,700; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $252,525 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $290,404. – RHD. 1,527/6hp (RAC) Daimler vertical twin, wheel steering, Red wood spoke wheels, solid tires, nickel brightwork, Lucas kerosene taillight, candle sidelights, single Lucas “Autolite” bullseye headlight, VCC dated. – Discovered powering a bandsaw in the 20’s, completed the LBVCR in 1931, 32 and 34-38. Restored in the late 90’s to largely original condition. Confirmed entry to this year’s LBVCR. In very good overall condition with quality older paint, upholstery, mechanicals and brightwork. – Sold by Bonhams at London in 2005 more recently restored for £115,000 all-in, $200,066 at the time. This result is £224,250 all-in, a significant move in pounds but one ameliorated in American terms by the swoon of the pound sterling which was $1.7397 then and $1.2950 today. For a dollar buyer this is a seriously good deal; not so much for someone paying in sterling.

Lot # 308 1904 deDion Bouton Type Y 6hp Two-Seater; S/N 308; Engine # 14427; Green, Brass hood accent, Gold coachlines/Green leather; Estimate $49,210 – $54,390; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3+ condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $64,750 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $74,463. – RHD. DeDion single-cylinder/6 RAC hp, wheel steering, Yellow wood spoke wheels, Smiths acetylene headlights, P&H kerosene sidelights, Royal kerosene taillight, bulb horn, reproduction coachwork, VCC dated. – From the estate of Brian Moore. Discovered in 1967 at a New Zealand sheep station and restored there with a reproduction body by Dave Hall (original body was a 4-person swing-seat by Lamplugh of France.) Several recent LBVCR completions and Creepy Crawly rallies. Handsomely presented in good, well-maintained and highly presentable condition. From the estate of Brian Moore. – A late starter at the LBVCR (#302 in 1915) but attractively and reassuringly presented. deDion Boutons were critical for the early evolution of the automobile with their “fast-revving” and reliable engines although “fast-revving” seem anachronistic these days when their long stroke, atmospheric intake valve engines shut down at about 1,500rpm. They are stalwarts of veteran cars, however, and the LBVCR bidders placed a serious premium on this example’s Brian Moore provenance.

Lot # 309 1899 Peugeot 2 1/4hp Tricycle; S/N 290; Engine # 11477; Blue/Black saddle; Estimate $51,800 – $77,700; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 1 condition; Reserve; Hammered Sold at $77,700 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $89,355. – Self-generating acetylene headlight, driveshaft brake, single-seat, wire spoke wheels, modern tires, 2 1/4hp single, 2-speed gearbox, contracting band front and rear brakes, bulb horn, VCC dated. – Freshly restored and other that a few rust pits under the concours-quality paint to confirm the originality of its structure far beyond perfect. This is a gorgeous, elemental vehicle. – This result among numerous well-maintained but used LBVCR veterans is a tribute to the restorer’s craft and attention to detail. It is a huge price, but also a sparking, fresh, over-restored object of pride and the Bonhams bidders swooned over it with this result. Expensive? Yes, but also seriously swoon-worthy.

Lot # 310 1899 Bruneau 2 3/4hp Quadrilette; S/N Engine No. 1004; Engine # 1004; Black/Black; Estimate $45,325 – $58,275; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3- condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $46,620 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $53,613. – RHD. Wheel steering, vis a vis seating, de Dion-Bouton single, believed to be 2 3/4hp, wire spoke wheels, modern tires, single headlight. – Built in Tours using a de Dion-Bouton single-cylinder engine. Retained by the original family until the early 60’s and sympathetically restored retaining much of its originality but running and driving. The only known survivor of this constructor. Little used and apparently not VCC dated, a charming example of early French motoring innovation. – This result is a major bet that this Bruneau will withstand VCC dating and become LBVCR eligible with an early starting number. Given its construction and the limited known history that’s probably a reasonable bet and the vehicle is an equally reasonable buy at this price.

Lot # 311 1903 Oldsmobile Model R Curved Dash Runabout 4-seater; S/N Engine No. 16150; Engine # 16150; Black/Red leather; Estimate $49,210 – $54,390; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $42,735 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $49,145. – RHD. Tiller steering, two bulb horns, varnished wood spoke wheels, kerosene sidelights and taillight, tonneau with rear-facing seats, VCC dated. – Offered with an entry to this year’s LBVCR with start #158. Sold new in the U.K. to Edward Williams whose family retained it (attached to an electrical generator) until 1950. Museum displayed 1954-1982 at the Pembroke Motor Museum with continuous LBVCR participation, then later with the third and fourth owner until 1993, then again since 2010. Restored along the way and presentable with an attractive patina. – There are faster, earlier and more esoteric LBVCR participants but none that have proven themselves in greater numbers than R.E. Olds’ Curved Dash. They owe their profligacy to their reliability and survival, having been built in impressive numbers (over 11,000 built) and proved themselves on the rugged tracks then passing for roads in the U.S., making driving in Britain relatively light work. This Curved Dash’s tonneau with rear-facing seats is unusual (once having served as a taxi in its original owner’s hands) and its benign history is a big plus that contributes to the price it brought, along with its generations of LBVCR participation.

Lot # 312 1899 Star 3 1/2hp Single-Cylinder Vis-a-vis; S/N None; Varnished wood/Beige leather; Estimate $90,650 – $103,600; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $106,190 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $122,119. – RHD. Tiller steering, black wire spoke wheels, solid tires, kerosene sidelights, horizontal Benz-patent single cylinder. – Bought new by the Reverend H. Carpenter and retained by his family until the early 30’s. Second owner Percy Allen regularly used it on the LBVCR as well as completing two laps at Le Mans in 1956 with it. – Somewhat surprisingly Stars are not uncommon even in the present day, a testimony to their durability and the enthusiasm of subsequent owners. The varnished mudguards and coachwork (and it should be characterized as nothing less than “coach” work) is charming. It was one of two 1899 Stars in today’s Bonhams auction, and very much the less expensive, a strong indication it was a sound deal even if over the pre-sale high estimate.

Lot # 314 1903 Stevens-Duryea Model L 7hp Twin-Cylinder Stanhope; S/N 317; Red, Black fenders, Yellow coachlines/Black leather; Estimate $64,750 – $77,700; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 3 condition; With Reserve; Hammered Sold at $49,210 plus commission of 15.00%; Final Price $56,592. – RHD. Tiller steering, white wood spoke wheels, Non Skid tires, Orient kerosene sidelights, VCC dated. – 2019 LBVCR entry #393. Owner from 1960-1990 by Homer Fitterling, then restored in the U.K. for John Hearne and owned by the current owner’s family since 2001. LBVCR finisher several times since the turn of the century. Sound, mechanically maintained and ready to go this week according to the seller. – It is appropriate to attribute the success of the gasoline automobile in the U.S. to R.E. Olds and Henry Ford in Michigan, but before them the center of the automobile’s gestation was New England in the hands of, among others, Charles E. and J. Frank Duryea. A Duryea automobile, no matter how it is hyphenated for their various commercial relationships, is by-definition significant and the bidders here failed to recognize how meaningful that was giving this buyer a choice buy in and important car.

Lot # 315 1901 Renault Type D 4 1/2hp Rear Entrance Tonneau; S/N 22; Engine # 4813; Varnished wood, /; Estimate $110,075 – $123,025; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 4+ condition; With Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $97,125 plus commission of; Final Price $97,125. – RHD. Genies kerosene sidelights, wheel steering, de Dion Bouton single-cylinder, wire spoke wheels, kerosene Genies sidelights, not VCC dated. – Owned (according to the seller) by the original family until 1999. Partially preserved but never restored. Probably replaced, but old and frayed. upholstery. Achingly original, sound and complete if sketchily represented. – This Renault was a challenge even for the informed bidders at Bonhams LBVCR auction. It failed to pass muster with this result but has real potential not only as an LBVC Runner but in Preservation Class events. The pre-sale estimate is generous for the sketchy history and deteriorated presentation but if this Renault’s history can be reinforced it would be a rewarding buy at the reported high bid.

Lot # 316 1900 Locomobile Style 2 5 1/2hp Steam Spindle Seat Runabout; S/N 29; Black/Black leather; Estimate $45,325 – $58,275; Not viewed, notes from the catalog; 2- condition; Reserve; Not sold at Hammer bid of $41,440. – RHD. Tiller steering, wire spoke wheels, later tires, varnished wood spindle back seat, Neverout kerosene sidelight, VCC dated. – Tucked away in Brooklyn, NY until 1988, restoration completed in 1997. Updated with a double-acting brake (that works in reverse), and a braced rear axle (both reversible modifications.) In 1999 it posted the slowest (but quietest) time up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Restored in 2018 by the British Engineerium and essentially impeccable except for dull brass that (hopefully) shows more attention to function than to appearance. – Having seen a collection of disjointed parts for a 5 1/2hp Locomobile sell earlier today for $6,255, this complete, running and driving, VCC dated Loco is seriously undervalued even at just $4,000 under its low estimate. The consignor was not mislead by holding on to it.

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