2021 Bonhams London Legends of the Road Sale (Auction Results)

A 1937 Bugatti Type 57 S and 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT were the top results in the Bonhams Legends of the Road classic car sale in London in February 2021.

1937 Bugatti Type 57S with Grand Routier coachwork by Corsa at the London Bonhams 2021 Sale
1937 Bugatti Type 57S © Bonhams

A rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S with coachwork by Corsica sold for £4,047,000 ($5,678,842) in the live and online Bonhams Legend of the Road Sale in London on 19 February 2021. The second highest result was for a 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT that achieved £1,975,000 ($2,771,365), despite the car being an uncompleted restoration project. All six cars on offer were sold. 

Bonhams London Legends of the Road Sale 2021

Bonhams announced the Legends of the Road auction as an extraordinary sale of exceptional motor cars at its flagship saleroom in London on 19 February 2021. 

Only six cars were on offer in the sale that also included automobila, especially Bugatti spare parts. The total yield was over £7 million.

A 1937 Bugatti Type 57S formed the centerpiece of the auction. The top auction of 2020 was the Gooding’s Passion of a Lifetime sale in London where five of the ten most expensive cars of 2020, including three classic Bugattis, were sold. That auction showed that quality continues to sell.

Top Results at Bonhams London Sale 2021

Bonhams sold two cars for over a million dollars at the London Legend of the Road Sale: a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S and a 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT. Both cars were uncompleted restoration projects and the buyers will have to spend considerably more to bring the cars back to the road.

1937 Bugatti Type 57S

Profile 1937 Bugatti Type 57S with Grand Routier coachwork by Corsa
© Bonhams

A rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57S, which had been off the road and out of sight for the past 50 years, sold for £4,047,000 ($5,678,842) in the live and online Bonhams Legend of the Road Sale 2021. The result was slightly disappointing given the pre-sale estimate of £5,000,000 – 7,000,000 ($6,500,000 — 9,000,000) but was still nearly a million dollars more than was paid for a restored 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Tourer by Corsica at RM Sotheby’s Arizona / Scottsdale 2021 and the fourth most-expensive car sold at auction thus far in 2021.

The desirable pre-war supercar, the fastest road car of its time and one of only 42 produced, was the centerpiece of the auction. The Bugatti had been preserved in the North Staffordshire workshop of its late owner, respected engineer, Bugattiste, and native New Zealander Bill Turnbull, since 1969.

Historic 1937 Bugatti Type 57S with Grand Routier coachwork by Corsa
© Bonhams

The Bugatti was presented in exceptionally original condition, with largely intact black paintwork, cream leather interior and original coachwork. Mr Turnbull had embarked on a painstaking restoration project which was his life’s work and the 57S was offered as an advanced project close to completion, only in need of some final re-assembly. 

With bespoke coachwork by Corsica of London to the specification of its first owner, shipping magnate Sir Robert Ropner, the 57S was built on a special lightweight chassis previously used on one of three Bugatti works 1936 Type 57G streamliner ‘tank’ sports cars which contested Grand Prix in 1936 and set high-speed records, with such drivers as Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron at the wheel. 

1960 Aston Martin DB4GT

A (dismantled) 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT on offer at Bonhams London Legend of the Road Sale 2021
© Bonhams

A 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT was the second highest-selling motor car in the Legends of the Road Sale, achieving £1,975,000 ($2,771,365), exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £1,400,000 – 1,800,000.  

First owned by Syd Green, founder of the Gilby Engineering Grand Prix racing team, the DB4GT was purchased by its late owner in 1966, who tested its Grand Tourer abilities on numerous European road trips before embarking on a restoration project in 1983. 

A (dismantled) 1960 Aston Martin DB4GT on offer at Bonhams London Legend of the Road Sale 2021
© Bonhams

Like the Bugatti, the Aston had been off the road for several decades, with its late owner embarking on a restoration project in 1983, and was offered as a part restoration with nearly all its original parts including the period push-button radio. 

Although only 75 of the Aston Martin DB4GT cars were ever produced, three sold at different auctions in February 2021. The top result was $3,777,280 paid for a well-restored  1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT (Estimate: £2,000,000 – £2,500,000) in the Gooding Geared Online European Sporting & Historic Collection. Given the amount of work still required on the Bonhams car, the $1,632,961 paid for a running, if not perfect, 1959 Aston Martin DB4GT at the Artcurial Paris 2021 sale, seems even more of a bargain.

Other Results at the Bonhams London 2021 Sale

Blue 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS on offer at Bonhams London Legend of the Road Sale 2021
© Bonhams

A light blue 1965 Ferrari 275 GTS, estimate £700,000 – 900,000, sold for an undisclosed amount prior to the auction.

1934 Frazer Nash TT Replicasold for £253,000

One of only 85 examples of this sporting Frazer Nash, named after the short-lived British firm’s success in the Northern Ireland Tourist Trophy in 1931 and 1932, and aimed at the ‘sporting motorist’. 

This period-correct car, with coachwork by AFN, was tested by its first owner in high speed and reliability trials and then in Vintage Sports-Car Club Races by its late keeper who kept the car for more than 50 years. 

1955 Jaguar XK140 3.8-litre Roadster, sold for £92,000

The fifth legend was one of 74 right-hand drive roadster variants of this quintessential classic British sports car. Powered by a 3.8-litre competition engine formerly used by legendary Jaguar saloon racer Albert Betts (along with the original unit), the big cat was offered from long-term family ownership of more than 50 years. 

Rounding out the motor car sale was a 1913 Panhard et Levassor 2.2-litre 12hp X19, also offered from the stable of Bill Turnbull, which sold for £32,200, to an old acquaintance in New Zealand, who had driven the car in 1962. In Bill’s ownership for more than 65 years, the Panhard had been extensively restored and was offered with perfect provenance from new. 

Automobilia Results at Bonhams London 2021

The earlier Automobilia section of the sale also had a 100 percent success rate, with the majority of lots selling in excess of their top estimates, including a Bugatti Type 57/57S gearbox which achieved £24,000 and a Furet-Gergovia 1200kg jack, to suit Bugatti Type 57/57S, also offered from the estate of Bill Turnbull, which soared past its top estimate of £400 to realize £3,060.

James Knight, Bonhams Group Motoring Chairman, said: “Today’s sale shows that exceptional examples of rare and pedigree collectors’ motor cars are attracting strong interest and bids from passionate collectors and enthusiasts. 

The next auction to be staged by Bonhams’ motor car department is its first fully digital sale, Les Grand Marques du Monde à Paris Sale, 3 to 10 March 2021.