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Five Best Cars from Bonhams 2018 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance Auction

Minty metal for the eyes

Chris Chinwriter, photographer

Coinciding with the Greenwich Concours d'Elegance is the annual Bonhams auction, which occurs during show hours. While the show itself dazzles the eyes with minty metal, the auction also summons those on the hunt for their next undertaking. Before being auctioned off, all the cars being sold typically share the field with the Concours cars. Here are five of the best cars that we saw from this year's auction.

1. 1954 Kaiser-Frazer Manhattan
The 1954 Kaiser-Frazer Manhattan sedan was built by a small joint operation between the Henry J. Kaiser Company and Graham-Page Motors Corporation, operated chiefly by Joseph W. Frazer. The two went into the business of making automobiles out of Willow Run, Michigan. The Manhattan sedan was perceived as futuristic in its design and the company's flagship models, acting as a direct competitor to Chevrolet's sedans of 1954 and 1955. The Manhattan however came with an inline-six only, leaving it a little bit of a performance disadvantage to the competition with V-8s available. While initial sales were strong for Kaiser-Frazer, the company failed to keep up with competition from the Big Three on the long term. Kaiser eventually acquired and merged with Willys-Overland to create the Kaiser-Jeep name. And in 1969, Kaiser left the car industry, leaving Jeep to be sold to American Motors Corporation in 1970.

2. 1959 Dodge Royal Lancer
The Dodge Lancer was considered the company's flagship sedan in the 1950s, serving as a full-size model up through the 1962. And after a long hiatus, Dodge reattempted the "Lancer" nameplate through Lee Iacocca's "K-Car" platform. But that model is insignificant compared to the big-bodied classic of the original. This specific "Royal Lancer" was one of the top-of-the-line specification Lancers. All were hardtops, featuring a 361 cu. in. (5.9-liter) V-8 with 305 horsepower, while a larger 383 cubic inch (6.3-liter) V-8 was optional with 340 horsepower.

3. 1959 DeSoto Adventurer
DeSoto is a long-lost sub-brand to Dodge and Chrysler. While Dodge produced cars for the average person, DeSotos were branded a step above its Dodge cousins, but not as luxurious and fancy as the top-dog Chryslers. The Adventurer surfaced in 1956 as a high-performance version of the DeSoto Fireflite coupe. This 1959 version is the second-to-last-year Adventurer, incorporating more styling cues from its more expensive Chrysler brethren. But it didn't get any more fully-loaded than the Adventurer in DeSoto's entire lineup, with nearly every option standard. Power came from a 383 cubic inch V-8 with 350 horsepower. Only 699 were made of which 602 are hardtops and the remaining 97, convertibles. It also was the first car to feature seats that swiveled out for easier egression.

4. 1961 Austin-Healey 3000
The Austin-Healey 3000 roadster was the premiere model of sports car maker, Austin-Healey. Pitched as an alternative to the Jaguar E-Type, the 3000 was of the later, larger, "Big Healey" versions of the original 100 roadster. Though it simply became a quintessential icon of open-top British motoring. The 100 came about originally when Austin-Healey teamed up with Jensen Motors to produce a new sports car, using Austin components. The 3000 was styled specifically to differentiate itself significantly from the smaller Austin-Healey Sprite. Power came from a BMC gas 2.9-liter inline-six mated to a four-speed manual.

5. 1999 Shelby Series 1
While Carroll Shelby made a name for himself racing in Le Mans and appropriating the AC Ace Bristol, but with a massive Ford V-8, the Series 1 was a major first. It was the first and only car completely designed from the ground up by Mr. Shelby himself, and was produced by Shelby American. Its chassis comprises of a mixture of aluminum, carbon fiber and Kevlar. Under the hood sits a 4.0-liter GM Northstar V-8 from the last-run 1990s Oldsmobile Aurora. But it was modified to produce 320 horsepower versus 250, and 290 pound-feet of torque. It's mated solely to a six-speed ZF-sourced manual for a 0-60 mph time of 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 170 mph. This example sold at Bonhams for $313,000.