Sensitively revived 1965 Morris Mini Cooper 970S - statistically the rarest of BMC’s official S versions of which only 963 were manufactured - fetched a heady £55,000 with premium in the Historics auction tent at the Brooklands Museum, where Saturday afternoon shoppers spent £2.6m on 78% of the 128 classics in the catalogue. An early Jaguar E Type 3.8 Roadster with matching numbers from 1962 meanwhile, only the second year of production, that ran and drove, but was nonetheless a resto project, was taken on for a way over forecast £143,000.
Another Coventry cat that also performed well at this sale was a 1954 XK120SE Roadster, repatriated from the US in 2011 for body-off restoration and conversion from left to right-hand drive, which went for £126,500, £41,500 more than top estimate. A restored to original spec MkIV 3½-Litre Saloon that had been first registered to Jaguar Cars in 1948 and used by Deputy Chairman Arthur Whittaker was bought by his three grand-daughters for £68,200.
Some of the more noteworthy valuations for mainstream assets included the £57,200 paid for a 1969 280SL Merc lefty with auto-shift that had migrated from New York in 2013 and had been guided at £33,000-38,000, and the £46,750 result of a fastidiously accurate 1963 Ford Lotus Cortina Mk1 2 that had been re-shelled during the 1990s and for which up to £42,000 had been forecast. More than £11,000 over the pre-sale estimate, a potent £39,325 with premium, was also required to own a genuine right-hand drive Triumph TR2 from 1954, the year that similar ‘Long Door’ TR2s finished 28th on the Mille Miglia and 5th in class in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Model eligibility for Premier Cru retrospectives like these continues to boost auction performance.
The most surprising result of the afternoon though was the £92,400 paid for the 1997 Jordan F1 Type 197 without Peugeot V10 or transmission that had been pre-sale estimated at £20,000-25,000. Not some shopping mall display dummy this, but claimed to be the actual 197/03 chassis (with B&H less politically incorrect Snake-adorned paintjob rather than mobile fag packet livery) that wasdriven by Giancarlo Fisichella to second place in Belgium and third in Canada. The 78% sale rate, also the average achieved by Historics throughout their 2016 sales calendar incidentally, was higher than it was at their season opener at the pre-WW2 circuit one year ago.
Simultaneously, just outside Chippenham in muddier Wiltshire where the Richard Edmonds auction tent had been pitched, 71% of the 95 collector vehicles, 72 of them cars, changed hands for another £477,255 with premium. Among the 51 sellers, a left to right-hand drive converted 1959 Jaguar XK150 3.4 Coupe for cosmetic improvement found £48,950 and £22,000 was available for an XJS V12 Convertible first owned by Lady Sarah Ferguson in 1988 that had been TWE restored in 1988.
A dormant 1934 Riley Nine Kestrel with a new crankshaft in a box on the back seat and £7000-10,000 pre-sale estimate was keenly contested until gavel fall at £14,800, costing the winner £16,280 with premium. While by far the oldest automobile on offer was claimed to have been first steamed up in Milwaukee early in 1901 and had been returned to the spec it had been in 116 years ago during the late Noughties. Apparently L2B eligible, and reportedly capable of transporting two warmly dressed travellers to Brighton under its own steam, the Milwaukee Steamer raised £35,750 from the next caretaker.
Arriving by 4x4 (and that included my Swindon-made CRV) was helpful for drama-free arrival and departure from the auction field, although a well shod Landcruiser workhorse was standing by with tow rope to rescue townies with tyres and transmissions unsuited to the countryside in the tail end of winter