June 17, 2024

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Auction Brief: Bonhams — The Zoute Sale 2022

Image: Courtesy of Bonhams

Bonhams returned to Knokke-Heist, Belgium for its tenth annual Zoute Sale, achieving results that blew past years out of the water. With a final total of €25m ($24.5m), the 2022 iteration of the sale is now the most successful Zoute sale Bonhams has held, beating the then-record setting sum of €12.3m realized at last year’s iteration. In addition, Bonhams increased its sell-through rate from last year as well, moving from 90% to an exceptional 95% this year.

Seven of the 75 vehicles offered sold for more than €1m. Leading the pack was a 1957 BMW 507 Series I Roadster at €2,093,000 ($2,050,512), with a beautiful 1963 Ferrari 250 GT/L Lusso Berlinetta right behind at €1.7m ($1.67m). Tied for third were two other German machines: A restored 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing with competition history and a 2004 Porsche Carrera GT, each selling for €1,380,000 ($1.35m).

Here are five lots that grabbed my attention:

Image: Courtesy of Bonhams

Lot 136 — 1957 BMW 507 Series I Roadster
Chassis #: 70019
Sold for €2,093,000 ($2,050,512)

A rarer Series I 507, the BMW remained in the hands of a single owner from 1963 to 2009. That owner had the car restored from 2007 to ’09 before selling it. Shortly after purchase, it was repainted again in an effort keep the BMW as close to original as possible. The 507 finished third in its class at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and after two subsequent owners, was acquired by the consignor in 2017. It sold in Belgium with a factory hardtop and a 91-page BMW Classic Master Expertise.

Examples of the 507 have been showing up a bit more often recently. In 2018 and ‘19, four examples sold at auction. Since January of 2021, eight have sold — all of them just above or below the $2m mark. This car appears to be a fresher example than some of the other recent sales, yet lands among the lowest priced of the bunch. Between its condition, history and the extra rarity of being a Series I, this BMW was reasonably well bought. Is the 507 market so small that eight examples in two years have saturated it?

Image: Courtesy of Bonhams

Lot 171 — 1965 Volkswagen Type 2 21-Window Deluxe Microbus
Chassis #: 245121087
Sold for €115,000 ($112,666)

A real-deal 21-window with the desirable split windshield, this VW was delivered new in Rome. It remained in Italy in the hands of subsequent owners. The Bonhams catalog mentions a restoration was undertaken by one of those caretakers, but the exact timing is not clear. Regardless, the red and white color scheme looks great, both inside and out. The consignor purchased the microbus in 2014 and last had it serviced in 2020. An independent expert recently gave it a 2+ condition rating.

It has been years now since prices of 21- and 23-window microbuses have skyrocketed and although the Bonhams catalog says this one is “thoroughly practical,” what actually keeps these VWs bringing big sums is their cool factor. Their high value and lack of performance — especially by today’s standards — doesn’t lend to them being a practical choice, at least not to me.

Pricing has stayed flat or even perhaps softened a bit in the past year, but the average selling price has rarely dropped below $100k. This one sold right near the current $110k average and seems a fair deal for all. At least it’s a real Samba in good shape. Lesser, replica 21- and 23-window examples have sold for more.

Image: Courtesy of Bonhams

Lot 168 — 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Convertible
Chassis #: 121040 9500085
Sold for €172,500 ($168,998)

An original Blaugrau 190SL, the Mercedes spent time in the U.S. and is said to have been purchased by the vendor from the original owner. A complete restoration was carried out in Germany from 2017 to 2022 by Klassik-Garage-Kronberg. The cost of the work totaled more than €160k. It is accompanied by an owner’s manual, second set of keys and copy of the datacard or Fahrzeugdaten.

In Linkage 006, I wrote about a 190SL that sold for $340,500 back in January at RM Sotheby’s Arizona auction. It was and still is a huge sum of money for a model with values that had be a bit depressed for couple of years. While this one didn’t sell for that massive sum, $170k is still quite healthy. In fact, this is one of several examples that has sold for over $160k since July 2022. Those cars have helped pull the average sales price from a low near $100k in mid-2020 to $120k today. Given the rebounding market and this 190SL’s fresh, expensive restoration, the buyer did just fine.

Image: Courtesy of Bonhams

Lot 156 — 1957 Jaguar XK150 3.8-Litre Coupe
Chassis #: S 834365
Sold for €862,500 ($844,991)

One of nine coachbuilt XK150s and one of just three bodied by Bertone. Unique to this example is the vents designed into the front fenders. Originally fitted with a 3.4-L engine, further research shows the larger 3.8-L unit was installed early in its life — possibly before leaving Bertone’s workshop. Later a part of the Behring Collection displayed at the Blackhawk Museum, the XK was shown at Pebble Beach in 1992, before being restored and shown again at Pebble in 1998. The consignor purchased it in 2013 and had it restored again in 2019 and 2020.

This car has everything the most discerning collectors covet. It is unique, beautiful and rare. But more than that, this XK a true piece coachbuilt art and automotive history. The current average selling price for an XK150 is around $110k with the top sale from the past five years is $335k realized at Bonhams’ 2022 Paris auction. The new owner paid more than double that here, but comparing this car to other “standard” XK150s is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

Image: Courtesy of Bonhams

Lot 158 — 1924 Bugatti Type 30 Torpedo
Chassis #: 4224
Sold for €345,000 ($337,997)

The first model powered by Bugatti’s legendary straight-eight engine, this Type 30 was delivered new in Spain and remained there for much of its lifetime. The car has twice benefitted from long-term ownership starting with the original owner who retained it for over 30 years from 1924 to the late 1950s, and its third owner having held onto it from 1962 to 2013. Though the Type 30 retains all its original mechanical components including engine, chassis, gearbox, axles and hood, its original three-seater torpedo body was removed sometime after 1962. The subsequent owners had a replica body created from the scuttle back using original photos of this car, which it wears today.

Though some 600 Type 30s were said to be built in-period, it is believed less than 50 exist today. As expected with such a limited number remaining, Type 30 sales are few and far between. Only two others have sold in the past five years: The first back in 2018 at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival sale for over $510k, and more recently, back in August at RM Sotheby’s Monterey auction, another made $263,200. The example sold at Goodwood was special ordered with many options for competition use and wore a sporting body like this one, though the tail was a re-creation and not original. The car sold in Monterey this year, though still beautiful, wore a more subdued tourer body, likely lowering its value.

The price seems a little light for this light-blue beauty, but it rightly landed in-between the two other sales. It has the more desirable sporting bodywork not seen on the RM Sotheby’s car but lacks some of the special features and originality of the higher priced car from 2018.

Find full results from Bonhams’ 2022 Zoute Sale here