Iconic and Bonhams. Surprises and fun

  • 27 September 2023
  • 4 min read
  • 12 images
Iconic and Bonhams. Surprises and fun image

Photo credit: Bonhams, Iconic Auctioneers

Cliff Goodall’s view

Forget the glitz of Pebble Beach. Between the end of August and the beginning of September, England became the hunting ground for enthusiasts searching for that special addition to their prized collections, all while treading lightly on the family budget.

On one hand, there was the very first auction by Iconic Auctioneers (held at Silverstone on 25th and 26th August), where a name change marked a fresh approach. On the other hand, Bonhams set up shop at Beaulieu, coinciding with Europe’s oldest historic car market (2nd September), with accessible lots that appealed to collectors of all things from the ‘90s.

Iconic Auctioneers, Silverstone, 26th August 2023 Iconic Auctioneers, Silverstone, 26th August 2023 Bonhams concluded with an encouraging result, bringing home a 76.64% sale rate (82 out of 107 cars) and £2,454,633 in takings – nearly 80% of the £3,087,000 pre-sale estimate. With its change in name, Iconic had been hoping for a leap in quality, but perhaps this shift hadn’t been fully appreciated by the clientele. The pre-sale estimate of £12,965,000 was very close - perhaps too close - to the £16 million over at Bonhams during the Goodwood Revival, but ended up at approximately half that amount, with £6,466,846 in sales. It’s worth noting that exactly half the lots were sold too (100 out of 201), but this was in the context of only two lots without reserve out of over 200. The numbers add up.

The two average prices per car sold mirror their respective identities: £29,935 for Bonhams and £64,668 for Iconic.

Bonhams, Beaulieu, 2nd September 2023 Bonhams, Beaulieu, 2nd September 2023 Let’s begin with Iconic and the 1998 Subaru 22B STI. This wasn’t just any 22B, however: of the 400 produced, this prototype model was Chassis #000/400 with a unique history. Originally sold to Colin McRae, it is one of the three prototypes built (which explains the Japanese specifications), with just 12,000 miles on the clock – making it one of, if not the most desirable Subarus in the world. Now, the previous record for an Impreza 22B STI stood at £182,250. Given the extraordinary nature of this particular example, one might imagine a higher estimate, but could it possibly reach £400,000-£500,000? When the hammer finally fell at £480,500, the room erupted in jubilation. Not only did this set a new record for a 22B STI, but it also established a record for any Subaru, including competition models. What’s more, it managed to outshine Pebble Beach. Just ten days earlier, another 22B STI prototype had been offered by Bonhams for $450,000-$550,000 but stalled at $365,000. While a record was expected, the fact that Iconic managed to outperform Pebble Beach came as a surprise.

11998 Subaru Impreza STi 22B Ex-Colin McRae sold for £480,500 (€559,000)

Iconic’s sale will undoubtedly be remembered by Subaru enthusiasts. Another standout was the 1992 Subaru Legacy RS. This particular car was given to the official Subaru team for the 1992 British Rally Championship. It dominated the championship, winning all six races, which propelled it directly into the World Rally Championship (WRC) and led to significant successes with the Impreza. Given the car’s historical importance, the estimate was correctly placed between £380,000 and £450,000, and the result spoke for itself: £414,500. To put this achievement into perspective, the previous record for a competition Legacy dated back to 2018 when an example driven by Ari Vatanen and Richard Burns (ex-Acropolis rally) was sold for £100,000 – over four times the price in just five years!

21992 Subaru Legacy RS "Group A" Ex-Colin McRae sold for £414,500 (€482,250)

Iconic also offered several other interesting competition cars. From Colin McRae’s garage came his very first car, a 1977 Chrysler Sunbeam Ti Group A, which sold for £90,000, and his last one (a highly-tuned Ford Escort MkII built in 2015 and fitted with a 330bhp 2.5-litre Millington engine), which changed hands for £157,500.

31977 Chrysler Sunbeam Ti 'Group A' Rally Car Ex-Colin McRae sold for £90,000 (€104,700)

In 2018, a 1990 Jaguar XJ-S Cabriolet Lister 7 Litre MkIII with 15,000 miles on the clock sold for £63,000, well within the estimated range of £60,000-£70,000. Five years later, another one from the same year and in the same colour, but with 26,000 miles under its belt, appeared at Iconic. Considering that only five were ever produced, could this have been the same car? The chassis number posed a challenge: in 2018, they used the Lister chassis number, while this time they used the Jaguar number (perhaps as a diversion?). Nevertheless, the estimate had risen, and the owner would have been content with £80,000-£90,000. When the hammer finally fell at £112,500, they discovered that they had nearly doubled their investment.

41990 Lister Jaguar XJ-S 7.0-Litre Le Mans Cabriolet sold for £112,500 (€130,900)

Moving from Iconic to Bonhams at Beaulieu, the auction featured a slightly lower tier of vehicles, with none surpassing the £200,000 estimate threshold.

The “battle” for the top price was waged between a 1924 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost 40/50hp Saloon and a 1936 Lagonda LG45 Rapide. While the Lagonda was expected to command a considerably higher price, certain details influenced the outcome. The Lagonda wasn’t originally a Rapide but had undergone a body swap in the mid-’80s. Furthermore, it had received no attention for 35 years and had been stationary since 2019.

51936 Lagonda LG45 4½-Litre 'Rapide' Style Sports Tourer sold for £172,500 (€200,700)

Consequently, the Lagonda was estimated at £150,000-£200,000. In contrast, the Rolls Royce featured coachwork by Steuarts of Calcutta, supposedly intended for the Maharajah of Mysore. It had been meticulously restored by Tony James, the President of the Rolls Royce Club, and had recently undergone a comprehensive inspection, making it a strong contender. The result? Both were sold for the same price: £172,500.

61924 Rolls-Royce 40/50hp Silver Ghost Coachwork by Steuarts of Calcutta sold for £172,500 (€200,700)

Because this was a “classic” auction (in every sense of the word), a couple of century-old cars turned out to be the surprises of the day. The first was a 1903 De Dion Bouton 6hp Two-seater, well-preserved and in the same family’s possession for nearly four decades, faithfully participating in the London-Brighton Run. The estimate of £50,000-£70,000 was easily surpassed, closing at £92,000.

71903 De Dion Bouton 6hp Two-seater sold for £92,000 (€107,000)

But that’s not all. There was also a 1912 Delahaye Type 43 Landaulette with coachwork by Chabrol Jeune of Toulouse. It had undergone restoration work in 1992 and had remained stationary since 2000. Estimated at £45,000-£55,000, it changed hands for double that amount: £96,600.

81912 Delahaye Type 43 Landaulette Coachwork by Chabrol Jeune sold for £96,600 (€112,400)

Lastly, let’s discuss the deal of the day and a peculiar curiosity: a 1933 Austin 10/4 Patrick Special Coupé. Admittedly, it was in dire need of restoration and wasn’t a particularly attractive model from a collector’s perspective. Its estimate was set at £2,000-£3,000. The final sale price? £97 (no, that’s not a typo). Ah, and 46 pence.

91933 Austin 10/4 Patrick Special Coupé sold for £97 (€112)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here’s a curiosity for those who dream big. Iconic Auctioneers didn’t offer an automobile but rather a noble title: ‘Lord of the Manor of Silverstone’, yours for £111,375. Is that a good deal? Well, if you happen to already own a castle, horses, and a staff, it might just be. As for the car...?

10"Lord of the Manor of Silverstone" Title sold for £111,375 (€129,500)