Bonhams’ annual Festival of Speed auction has become a bit of a tradition for the better-heeled of Goodwood diverse mix of attendees. In fact, headlining cars are often great enough that you’ll want to take a peek inside the Bonhams’ tent just to have a look, even if your spending ability is limited to a couple pints of lager and a Cornish pasty. This year, several of those headliners didn’t bring enough interest to find new homes, and the overall sell-through rate was low: deals were struck for just 41 of the 83 cars offered. What’s to blame? A down market such as we’re in currently demands the best quality to achieve the best prices and several unsold cars at this auction had questionable histories and modifications. Add the notion that many would-be buyers are likely keeping their powder dry for Monterey Car Week, where virtually every major auction house will have at least a few top-notch, mutli-million-dollar offerings up for grabs and you wind up with a slow sale.
1992 Williams-Renault FW14B Formula 1
The star of the sale, this Williams FW14B with a red number ‘5’ on the nose is the very car English Formula 1 driver Nigel Mansell drove to victory at each of the first five races of the 1992 F1 season. Chassis number 08 was driven by Mansell for two more races after that before being handed to his teammate, Ricardo Patrese for much of the remainder of the season. Mansell would go on to win the 1992 F1 World Championship and the car’s iconic blue and yellow livery became a symbol of a certain era in motorsports. Incidentally, this is also the first car designed by Adrian Newey to win a championship. The sales price set a new world record for a Williams Formula 1 car sold at auction and rightly so.
1993 Jaguar XJ220
When the Jaguar XJ220 supercar launched in 1991, it was at once a revelation and a disappointment. While the car looked futuristic, had a 217 mph top speed and played off Jaguar’s success with its Le Mans prototype race cars, the promised V-8 engine had been substituted for a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 in the name of cleaner emissions, leading many enthusiasts to cancel their orders before taking delivery. Moreover, the car was never officially sold in the U.S., costing the XJ220 a large chunk of its customer base. Values dipped to a shade over $100,000 in the XJ220’s worst days, but interest has returned strongly in subsequent years and this sub-10,000 mile, well-serviced car shows it.
1995 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evo II
Yet another car that American buyers were never afforded, the Lancia Delta Integrale was the Italian brand’s first all-wheel-drive rally machine, racking up six World Rally Championships between 1987 and ’92. The Lancia’s three-box, blister-flared design speaks to a generation who grew up watching the rally versions handbrake-turning their way through the switchbacks of the Monte Carlo Rally and prices have increased accordingly—a decade ago, these weren’t worth half as much. This is a limited production (one of 180 built) Evo II version with facelifted cosmetics and a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine uprated to 210 hp.
1962 Aston Martin DB4 Series IV 4.2-Litre Vantage
The DB4 series of Aston Martins really brought the brand to the forefront under David Brown’s ownership. The DB4 was a better-looking, sportier car than the DB MkIII that preceeded it though it borrowed heavily from the former’s chassis. It was also the car that led the way to the DB5, which went down in history as James Bond’s car of choice. This Series IV Vantage spec car has a number of improvements over earlier models, including dash design from the DB4 GT race cars, an uprated, 266-hp straight-six engine with triple carburetors and faired-in headlights. This was a strong sale, which may signify an uptick in Aston Martin interest in what has been a difficult market for the cars.
1985 Audi Quattro Coupe
You didn’t need a half-million dollars or more to be a player at Bonhams this year, a mere $36,000 would have bought you this original Audi Quattro Coupe which was aimed squarely at homologating the brand’s well-known, all-wheel-drive Group B rally machines. This was a fine example which won the Goodwood House Concours just a year before and was described as being very well looked after by a Quattro specialist in the U.K. The turbocharged five-cylinder engine makes around 200 horsepower, giving a 0 to 60 mph time of around 7.2 seconds—an ideal sweet spot for quick backroads blasts.
1979 Ferrari 400 GT
So you want to buy a Ferrari, but you’ve only got Camry money. That wasn’t a problem at Bonhams, where you could have drove away with this 400 GT 2+2 (two front seats, two tiny rear seats) for under thirty grand. The Pininfarina styling is elegant, but intentionally a bit bland, having been styled at a time when Italy’s elites were under constant threat of ransom kidnappings and preferred to keep a low profile. While your neighbors won’t likely recognize your new 400 GT as a Ferrari they’re used to seeing, they’ll definitely respect the sound from its 4.8-liter V-12 when you fire it up on a weekend morning.
2004 Toyota TF104B Formula 1
Toyota may have failed to win a race in the eight years it spent in Formula 1 (2002-’09), but is it still possible that you can buy a 15-year-old Formula 1 car for this little money? As you might have guessed, there’s a catch. This car, chassis 08, was one of 11 cars built for 2004 but one of just two designated as ‘test’ cars and never raced. Oh yeah, and Toyota pulled the engine, transmission and all the electronics out of the car before it went to its first home outside of the team. We’d still like one of these in the office just to turn into the ultimate racing simulator.
2011 Land Rover Defender SVX ‘Spectre’
In an age of big-dollar resto-mod classic SUVs, this Defender still seems like it sold very, very well. Its claim to fame was being driven by 007’s companion Eve in the 2012 film “Skyfall,” then again as a villain’s ride of choice in the 2015 follow-up movie “Spectre.” Modified by U.K. specialist Bowler with more power, a full roll cage and 37-inch tires, it certainly looks the part, if not the price.