With some 340 classic cars and motorcycles up for grabs, it was no wonder that there was such a huge turnout at Brightwells for the final sale of the year and the 10-acre site was packed to capacity and beyond by hordes of enthusiasts keen to bid on the enormous variety of machines on offer. By the end of a marathon two-day selling spree, 75% of the classics on offer had found new homes in a sale which totalled just under £2m.

Day One saw 220 cars come under the auctioneer’s hammer, top price honours going to a unique lot comprising two important vehicles from the Morgan Motor Company, a 2011 Morgan Plus Four SuperSports race car and a 1991 Ford Gulfstream motorhome used to shuttle the car and the race team to circuits across Europe. Attracting interest from all over the world, this unique pair of ex-works vehicles were finally hammered away to a German buyer for £54,100.

Also attracting a huge amount of pre-sale interest were two rare UK-supplied BMW E28 M5 Saloons. Hand-built at BMW’s M-Sport facility in Garching, only 2,241 were made between 1984 and 1988 of which only 187 were in RHD for European customers. Fresh to the market after many years in two different private collections, both cars comfortably smashed their estimates, the 1988 Malachite Green example with 95k miles and a huge history file from new fetching £51,500 while the 1987 Cirrus Blue example with 104k miles and comparatively sparse history raised £38,000. These prices reflect current market trends which increasingly favour post-1980 classics and no doubt both these cars will be judged well-bought in times to come – witness the huge gains made by the contemporary E30 M3 in recent years.

On the other side of the coin and in common with many other ‘blue chip’ classics of the 1960s, Pagoda Mercs have taken a slight dip of late but a tidy 1970 280SL in LHD was successfully hammered away for £43,700 and would doubtless have made considerably more if it had been in UK-friendly RHD. No such considerations held back the 1971 Citroen DS21 whose LHD was more than made up for by its Pallas EFi 5-speed manual spec and much recent restoration hence the £21,300 result.

Exerting an influence out of all proportion to its size is the immortal Mini which only seems to get more popular as the years roll by. All eight examples on offer sold comfortably, a 1969 Cooper S Mk2 leading the way at £17,900 while a 1967 Cooper Mk1 made £15,700, a rare 1967 Traveller Mk1 made £16,200, a humble 1985 Mini 25 made £11,200 due to having only 75 miles on the clock and a 1972 Clubman Estate showing only 31k miles made £10,300. By comparison the Italian equivalent, a smart 1967 Fiat 600 with some tasty Abarth upgrades could only muster a market-correct £7,300.

MGs are also perennially popular and eight out of the ten on offer found new homes, top honours going to a beautifully restored 1933 J2 at £29,100 while a striking 1953 TD Devin Sports Special made £19,600 and is now on its way to a new home in Germany. A 1938 TA restoration project made £12,880, a 1993 RV8 with only 25k miles on the clock raised £19,000 and an immaculate 1980 Midget 1500 with just one owner and 8,500 miles raised an impressive £13,400. Appealing to the same sort of buyer, a 1960 Triumph TR3A with various upgrades made £21,300 while a 1962 TR4 rally car looked like a lot of fun at £16,600.

Much admired during the viewing was a well restored 1977 Jaguar XJ-C 4.2 Coupe in rare manual guise with vivid yellow paintwork which made £24,600 while a 1957 Jaguar Mk1 3.4 Saloon with desirable manual overdrive and just three owners looked a bit of a snip at £20,700 given how scarce these are now. A Jaguar-based 1978 Panther J72 Roadster also looked like an interesting buy at £16,800 although its pseudo-SS100 looks might elicit spinning noises from the tomb of Sir William Lyons…

Also arousing much comment was the 1950 Studebaker Commander Starlight Coupe with eye-popping Jet Age styling which prompted wisecracks about it not knowing whether it was coming or going. In fabulous ‘oily rag’ condition it deserved every penny of the £12,900 required to secure it. A scruffy but sound 1976 International Harvester Scout II that had spent its whole life in New Mexico also looked an interesting buy at £9,000 given what a cult following these rugged 4x4s have developed in America and how rare they are over here.

Among the more modern classics on offer, a 2005 Aston Martin DB9 with under 6k miles fetched £43,700 and an equally glamorous 1993 Bentley Continental R two-door with 148k miles raised £23,500. A 1997 Lotus Esprit GT3, one of only 196 made and looking most eye-catching in Chrome Orange Metallic made £21,500 while a thoroughly convincing 1972 Lotus Elite Type 14 replica was hotly contested to a £23,500 finish.

Pre-war cars are always well represented at Brightwells and noteworthy results included the £28,600 raised by an ‘oily rag’ 1935 Lagonda Rapier with Abbott two-door coupe coachwork. A very smart 1929 Ford Model A Roadster with the desirable 3.3 engine made £17,900 while an equally impressive 1934 Austin 7 Nippy which had been in single family ownership for 50 years raised £17,400. A beautifully restored 1934 Vauxhall Stratford Sports Tourer and one of only five known to survive fully deserved the £15,700 required to secure it. Exactly the same amount was raised by a no reserve 1936 Rover 12 P1 Tourer, a remarkable result considering it had a cracked block and was in need of full restoration following 50 years in storage.

Day Two saw an interesting selection of around 120 motorcycles up for sale, some of the most appealing lots being a group of seven pre-war machines from the collection of the late Richard Morris. On the market for the first time in many years and in fine condition, they all comfortably smashed their estimates, top price going to a 1927 Sunbeam Model 9/90 Special which was hotly contested to a £29,700 finish, more than doubling its estimate and drawing a round of applause from the appreciative crowd. The other three Sunbeams from the same collection also sold strongly, a pair of 1914/1915 3.5hp models making £26,300 and £13,700 respectively while a 1924 Model 7 made £11,400, all three being bought by a Hungarian collector. A 1938 Rudge Ulster made £18,300, a 1926 Rudge Standard Four made £12,000 and the collection was rounded off by a quirky 1926 Scott Super Squirrel which raised £8,000 and is also now on its way to Hungary.

The rest of the sale was dominated by the three Vincents on offer, top price of the day going to an extremely rare 1934 Vincent HRD Python Sports, one of only c.106 made and perhaps fewer than a dozen surviving. Appearing to be largely complete but in a very poor state and needing full restoration, it sparked a thrilling contest between bidders in the room, on the phones and on the internet, eventually trebling its estimate to finish on £32,600 and drawing another round of applause from the crowd. Not far behind was a nicely restored and upgraded 1949 Vincent HRD 998cc Series B which made £32,000 while a smaller 1949 Vincent HRD 500cc Comet in equally good condition raised £19,400.

Perhaps the most remarkable result of the day was the price achieved by a 1962 Norton Manx 500 11M with matching frame and gearbox numbers but missing its engine. Forecast to fetch around £12k, it soon blitzed past this figure and powered on to a £25,200 finish, eliciting yet another round of applause and a few puzzled faces among the crowd.

With 80% of the 124 lots on offer being successfully sold and some exceptional prices achieved, it is clear that the bike market remains buoyant and Brightwells are inviting consignments for their next motorcycle sale on 21st May 2020, the closing date for entries being 24th April.

Entries are also being invited for the next Leominster Classic Car sale on 4th March 2020 with free valuations available by emailing classiccars@brightwells.com. The closing date is Friday 31st January so please do not leave it until the last minute or your entry may have to be deferred until the following sale on 20th May.


All the prices given above include the 12% buyer’s premium