At the very first Monaco Grand Prix in 1929, it was a Bugatti Type 35B which took the chequered flag – and the same model came in first in today’s Bonhams Monaco Sale, achieving €2 million.
This rare jewel was offered from 47 years’ ownership by the vendor, a Belgian gentleman racing driver to become the pearl of the 30th anniversary edition of Bonhams’ prestigious sale, which realised more than €13 million.
A second Bugatti, a 1929 Type 37 which raced in Grand Prix of the period, was also offered from long-term family ownership of more than six decades and was sold to a new custodian for €862,500.
With the saleroom located in the Fairmont Monte Carlo, against the backdrop of The Monaco Historic Grand Prix taking place this weekend, it is not surprising that motorsport-related lots proved popular today.
A 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS, formerly owned by the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix winner, Jean-Pierre Beltoise, sold for €1,495,000.
Meanwhile, the ex-Alessandro Zanardi 1999 Williams-Supertec Renault FW21 Formula 1 Racing Single-Seater, which was driven to fifth place by the Italian in that year’s Monaco Grand Prix, raced past its pre-sale top estimate of €150,000, to sell for €362,250.
Just nudging ahead was another Formula 1 veteran from an earlier era – the 1962 Brabham 1 1/2-litre Brabham-Climax BT3 Formula 1 Racing Single Seater, which made €385,250. This truly historic racing car was the first Formula 1 car to carry the Brabham name and was the first car constructed by its driver – three-times Formula 1 world champion, Jack Brabham – to take a Formula 1 chequered flag.
Overtaking the Brabham was a works 1956 AC Ace Bristol Roadster, ordered new by Jacques Swaters, founder of the renowned Écurie Francorchamps and later owned by racing driver Armand Armand ‘Blary’ Blaton, who tested it for his 24 Heures du Mans campaign, topped its pre-sale estimate, selling for €460,000.
More contemporary precious metal also set the saleroom alight today with a 1988 Porsche 959 Komfort realising €1,437,500 and its Stüttgart supercar sibling, a 1997 911 GT2, achieving €1,046,500. A fellow German performance car, a one owner from new 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series Coupe, doubled its pre-sale estimate, racing away for €301,875.
Philip Kantor, Bonhams International Chairman Collectors’ Motor Cars, said: “It’s been a delight to return to Monaco with our first live sale for four years on the Historic Grand Prix weekend. With the lots on offer representing close to a century of motoring excellence, we had international bids across the board. As ever, quality rather than quantity made for a successful sale in the principality today.”
Further highlights from today’s auction included:
1961 Aston Martin DB4 Series III Saloon, which had had only two owners from new, sold above estimate for €356,500.
Its younger stablemate, a 1989 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante ‘X-Pack’ also surpassed its estimate, achieving €310,500.
There were also gems to be found in the automobilia section of the sale, most notably an original lithograph poster by Robert Falcucci. The ‘2nd Grand Prix Automobile – 1930’ signed by the artist, more than doubled its pre-sale estimate to achieve €26,775.
Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director, Bonhams Collector’s Motor Cars, added: “We are pleased to again have excelled in the categories of collector’s cars that Bonhams has always been well-known for – and at the same time, it’s encouraging that cars with a motorsport pedigree and more modern ‘youngtimers’ are becoming more and more a mainstay of our sales. Furthermore, it was gratifying to see how our clients thoroughly enjoy the new format of our live sale experience, enthusiastically participating as bidders, buyers and spectators.”