The Goodwood Festival of Speed, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, also marked a milestone of another sort—namely the 50th time Bonhams has held an auction at the Festival and its companion Goodwood Revival event. Although the sell-through rate (the percentage of cars sold) was a disappointing 64 percent, of the cars that did sell, more than a third were above the high end of their presale estimates. That’s impressive and shows that despite the minor market pullback we’ve seen recently, buyers are still stepping up and spending big bucks for the best cars. And spend they did. At the end of the day, more than $42 million worth of automobilia and cars changed hands, setting two new records in the process.
1961 Aston Martin MP209 DB4GT Zagato
Sold: £10,081,500 ($13,339,000*)
This Aston Martin MP209, chassis 0183/R, was the belle of the Bonhams ball. It is a one-of-three racing prototype based on the DB4GT Zagato, of which just 19 were made in all. The Aston’s hammer price of more than $13 million was a new record for a British car sold at auction and has set the bar for a similarly rare Aston Martin DB215 rival that RM Sotheby’s will be bringing to its upcoming 2018 Monterey sale.
In specification, the car is at least a match for one of its contemporaries, the Ferrari 250 GTO, which would arrive on the scene two years after the MP209’s conception. Its 3.8-liter DOHC straight-six produces 310 horsepower and 285 lb-ft of torque compared to the Ferrari’s 296 hp and 217 lb-ft, and it famously diced with said GTOs at tracks like the legendary Goodwood Circuit, a stone’s throw from where the auction was held. Lightweight aluminum bodywork and plenty of magnesium engine parts mean the MP209 weighs a huge 507 pounds less than a standard DB4GT and 300 pounds less than the lightweight Zagato version. Despite all that, and being driven by world-class drivers such as two-time Formula 1 World Champion Jim Clark, it didn’t exactly have a successful career at the track. Reliability issues plagued the engine, and the car was involved in an accident with a Ferrari at Goodwood in 1962 with Clark at the wheel.
You might be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but why is this car worth $13 million?” As the cliché goes, “The rich are very different from you and me.” For the exceedingly well-heeled enthusiast, the 0183/R is more than just a car; it’s a golden ticket to the world’s top vintage car events. Its racing provenance would make it instantly eligible for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Goodwood Revival, and other prestigious races. The classic car calendar would suddenly be your oyster, too, with Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, and even Villa d’Este all possible show venues. These events are choosy about what cars they invite, but they’d all be delighted to have the MP209 attend. Buying a vehicle of this stature is essentially like marrying into classic car royalty, with all the fame, perks, and status that come with it.
Will the Aston Martin DB215—considered the ultimate evolution of Aston’s “special projects” program—fetch an even higher amount in Monterey this August? Given what went down at Goodwood, we wouldn’t rule it out.
1965 Ford Lotus Cortina Mk1 Competition Saloon
Sold: £191,900 ($254,000*)
The Lotus Cortina was a modified version of the standard Ford Cortina, engineered and built by Lotus and its chief, Colin Chapman. Modifications from standard included a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine plucked from the Lotus Elan, coil springs in the rear instead of leaf springs, and an alloy differential housing, among other features. This car was an ex-works racer driven by Jim Clark, along with Jack Sears and John Whitmore. This is the car all Cortina owners wish they owned, and the price—about five times that of a road-going Lotus Cortina—reflects that.
1931 Bentley 4½-Liter Supercharged Tourer
Sold: £2,017,500 ($2,669,500*)
Bentley’s 4½-Liter is one of the brand’s most celebrated models, but by 1929, it was in danger of being outclassed by Alfa Romeo and others. Bentley Boy Sir Henry Birkin decided a little forced induction would help the car’s chances and commissioned a run of 50 “Blower Bentleys,” 4½-Liter cars with a supercharger added. These were built to homologate five race cars that Birkin campaigned across Europe and were capable of more than 100 mph—serious performance for the time. With just 50 built, they don’t surface often. We’ll call its price market correct.
1957 BMW 507 Roadster
Sold: £3,809,500 ($5,040,500*)
It’s rare enough to find a BMW 507 that’s had just one owner from new. When that owner is world-champion motorcycle, Formula 1, and Can-Am driver John Surtees, you’re into unicorn territory. Beyond that, this vehicle has been treated to a host of special factory upgrades, including Dunlop disc brakes, high-compression pistons, larger valves and carburetors, a high-lift camshaft, and underbody faring that smoothed airflow and raised top speed. At slightly more than $5 million, this car set the world record price for a BMW at auction, and rightfully so. It is perhaps the ultimate example of a 507, and as such, the car fetched nearly double the presale estimate and more than twice the value of a less pedigreed car.
1972 Land Rover Range Rover 4X4 Estate
Sold: £36,255 ($48,000*)
The first true SUVs to roam the earth are the latest usable classics to heat up the marketplace. As vintage Toyota FJs, Ford Broncos, and International Scouts have risen in popularity, so has interest in Range Rovers from the early ’70s. This two-door, five-seat 4×4 Estate was presented in a great shade of blue on its aluminum body panels and has a 3.5-liter all-alloy V-8 underhood. This model carried on with only minor changes into the mid-’90s, showing how right the Range Rover was from the beginning. The price is spot-on, but values might have a little further to rise.
2012 Bugatti VeyronSuper Sport
Sold: £2,045,500 ($2,706,500*)
This year’s Festival of Speed sale was not kind to most of the contemporary supercars that ran across the block. Registered “not sold” were an Aston Martin One-77, McLaren P1, Pagani Huayra, and Lamborghini Murciélago SuperVeloce. Either bidders weren’t interested in the latest and greatest, or the sellers simply wanted too much money. That said, this 1,200-hp, 258-mph Veyron Super Sport with just 340 miles from new sold for about 10 percent more than its top presale estimate.
1965 Aston Martin DB5 from “GoldenEye”
Sold: £1,961,500 ($2,595,500*)
A certain generation recalls this car fondly as it tangled with Xenia Onatopp’s Ferrari F355 in the opening scene of the 1995 James Bond film, “GoldenEye.” The chase was one for the ages, and this car was one of two DB5s used in the driving sequence. This particular car, chassis 1885/R, was also used by Aston Martin for promotional purposes during the launch of the DB7, occasionally being driven by the legendary Sir Stirling Moss. Any 007-used DB5 is bound to command a hefty premium, as this one received. Elsewhere in the auction, a “standard” DB5 sold for slightly more than $594,500.
*Approximate U.S. dollar value at time of sale