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Astons at Bonhams Sale and AMOC Spring Concours


© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

 

May 2019 - The annual Bonhams Aston Martin auction which, for 20 years (and initially under the ‘Brooks’ banner) had brought many of the Aston fraternity together, took place once again in the middle of May. This sale, beginning with an eclectic array of related Automobilia, comprised an inventory of exclusively Aston Martin and Lagonda cars. For a second year, since departing from Newport Pagnell, the erstwhile centre for Aston Martin manufacture, the event was to take place in the grounds of one of England’s most discrete private estates. In 2019 it was sited at Wormsley, a premises covering some 2,500 acres, and home to the Getty family. The driveway alone, from public road to the auction marquee, was a mile long, within the estate located at the centre of the Chiltern Hills and bisecting the counties of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.


© 2019, Classique Car Conduits

Making the day of wider interest to both buyers and marque enthusiasts alike, the Aston Martin Owners Club was holding its annual Spring Concours at the same establishment. Therefore, helped by the weather proving favourable, not only did Bonhams attract potential customers from several European countries, some making the considerable journey in their own Aston Martins, but around 200 other similar badged vehicles were present. These consisting of club members’ cars and those which had been immaculately prepared for the concours judges’ detailed inspections. The very best of them receiving much appreciation, and trophies for the efforts of their owners at the end of the day, across eighteen impressive classes.

The Bonhams auction itself had a good cross section of Astons, plus a Lagonda, which spanned some 67 years of production, from 1952 right up the present day. Headline lot, and catalogue front cover car, was a 1963 DB4 Series V Convertible. This one of only 70 constructed in total and, of those, coming from the middle production batch of just thirty chassis numbers. Arguably the most striking car, taking pride of place in front of all seated, and presented in bright red (which included the full width dashboard), it passed to a new custodian for the sum of £810,000 - with fees/commissions.

However, this was to be overshadowed, in terms of perceived value, in the minds of at least three serious bidders, who were particularly interested in a 1964 DB5 saloon, now showcased in the globally desirable, and most familiar, Silver Birch paintwork and black leather interior. Thus cementing direct connotations with James Bond 007, and the first incarnation of the fictional secret agent played by Sean Connery, where he drove his DB5 to destruction during the 1965 film Goldfinger. The car before us had been given a catalogue estimate range of between £620k and £680k. Although there are many more DB5s on the roads today in this silver shade, than were ever originally painted by the factory, it was clear they still command greater attention than most of the colours available, combined.

Thus, it came as little surprise to a hugely experienced Aston Martin dealer to whom I spoke, that the car flew way over the upper estimate, given the sale was conducted in a public forum between two or more potential purchasers and, as he said, with a point to prove. The result was that, including premiums, this DB5 was heading towards a new cosseted life for upwards of £860,000. To restrained, but audible intakes of breath by the audience, it was not clear whether the successful final bid was by telephone or from someone seated among them, but auctioneer Jamie Knight stated he sensed the tent was suddenly deficient in oxygen.

It became apparent that after the auction had closed there were quite a few Astons which, although coming close to their lower estimates, had not reached the requisite figure as a reserve for their sale to be completed. That said, it was also evident that several of the cars which did go through at the hammer were those destined for onward delivery to European homes. Specific countries I noted were Austria, Germany and Switzerland. However, there was a particularly useable 1969 DBS (sold for c.£94K gross), seen later departing the environs of Wormsley, that had been bought by a relatively local couple. This was confirmed when the DB4 which had arrived with both on board, was driven home by the gentleman alone while his wife was in tow, now at the wheel of her new DBS.

The venue and the day itself had proven a popular PR success for Bonhams and one imagines they at least covered their costs financially, even if the profit margin wasn’t quite as high as the auctioneers might have liked or indeed expected.

Moving on now to the Concours, which encompassed a very wide variety of Aston Martins, all parked on the Getty’s expansive cricket pitch, which had been expertly landscaped on a former cornfield and had become quite a focal point of the estate. A very picturesque setting with fine hospitality dining facilities provided for their guests, excellent viewing from grass banking and a panoramic vista of lush arboreal countryside beyond. In addition to the automobiles being examined, and the thoroughly road-going examples brought along on the day by visiting members, were displays of postwar Lagondas arranged by the Aston Martin Heritage Trust and an equally impressive collection of earlier ones, following an invitation to the Lagonda Club, which primarily looks after prewar and early 1950s models.

There were also a few visual surprises, none more-so than a bright blue Aston, the shape of which resembled one of the original “Design Project” factory supported endurance racing cars (DP212, the pair of 214s and 215), and the striking new bodywork had been draped over the much revised chassis of a 1969 DBS. With its public introduction, the number of known replica cars now matches the original quartet. Indeed one of these, similarly transformed in 2005, was also present, being a familiar and popular competitor at historic racing meetings both in the UK and United States. However, the racing heritage of Aston Martin was best represented by the rare appearance of the first built DB4GT Zagato, “22 XKX” chassis DB4GT/0200/R, which had competed at Le Mans in 1962, and been unveiled to the world at the Earls Court Motor Show car to much acclaim, two years before.

Other cars highlights, given their scarcity in numbers, were David Brown era Astons with soft top roofs. These ranged from DB2/4 and DB MkIII drop-heads, through DB4 and DB5 convertibles to the later DB6 and DB6 Mk2 Volantes. It certainly helped that no downpours, or even brief showers, were forecast for the day in terms of their committed attendance. Of course, more contemporary examples were also in abundance: DB7s, new model V8 Vantages (and V12s),  DB9s and DB11s for these, by the thousand, are enjoyed throughout the world and used as daily transport, rather than for purely social excursions. However, as you may see from the photographs, most concentration from behind the lens was focussed upon cars made available by Bonhams, and those representing previous Aston Martin and Lagonda generations.

Report and Photos: John Godley