Spoilt for choice


VANTAGE - - Bulletin | Market Watch - WORDS CHRIS BIETZK

GEN­ER­ALLY AT THIS point in the year our eyes are on the Bon­hams As­ton Works Sale; its grav­ity is such that other ma­jor auc­tions be­tween Christ­mas and May are of­ten no­tably light on in­ter­est­ing As­tons – but not this time.

Hav­ing of­fered four cars in Paris (the two Za­gatos men­tioned on the pre­vi­ous page, plus a 1964 DB4 and a 1966 DB6 Van­tage), RM Sotheby’s has got hold of seven more As­tons for its Amelia Is­land auc­tion on March 10-11, in­clud­ing half a dozen – all crack­ers and all with­out re­serve – from the col­lec­tion of the late Orin Smith.

The New Jer­sey busi­ness­man, who passed away last year, was a se­ri­ous col­lec­tor with se­ri­ously good taste. His As­tons in­clude a 1966 Short Chas­sis Volante, a 1952 DB2 Van­tage DHC and a spell­bind­ing 1938 15/98 Short Chas­sis Open Sports (Smith was ev­i­dently a man who liked to feel the wind in his hair).

The two-litre 15/98 be­gan life as a stan­dard Bertelli sa­loon, and was not short­ened and re­bod­ied un­til the 1980s, when it was ac­quired by a pair named RW and RJ Mills. The idea of chop­ping a rare pre-war As­ton might fill some with hor­ror, but it’s very hard to ar­gue with the re­sults. Chas­sis J8/776/LS is sell-your-granny gor­geous and, with its four-speed Moss syn­chro gear­box, it is the per­fect tourer. In a world of 14- mil­lion-dol­lar DB4 GT Za­gatos, $400,000500,000 sounds down­right rea­son­able.

Not to be out­done, Good­ing & Co will bring a very spe­cial car to Amelia Is­land: the 1949 DB MKII built for a cer­tain David Brown. ‘UMC 272’, which you may have en­coun­tered at last year’s Con­cours of Ele­gance at Wind­sor Palace, was for a time owned by Lance Mack­lin, who raced it with fac­tory sup­port in the 1950 Coppa In­ter-europa and the 1950 Targa Flo­rio, fin­ish­ing fourth in the former and crash­ing out of the lat­ter while in pur­suit of Al­berto As­cari’s Fer­rari. Re­stored by Works Ser­vice and of­fered in show con­di­tion, UMC 272 is ex­pected to command as much as $2.25 mil­lion when it crosses the block on 10 March.

Race his­tory of a dif­fer­ent sort will be of­fered by Sil­ver­stone Auc­tions on 13 May, when the house will seek a new cus­to­dian for the 1971 DB6 MKII Van­tage cur­rently owned by two-time BTCC cham­pion John Cleland. There’s no es­ti­mate just yet, but as a well-re­stored, de­sir­able man­ual car, the DB6 should go well.

A un­usual sur­feit of fine As­tons at auc­tion, then, be­fore the tra­di­tional ex­trav­a­ganza at Works. Bon­hams doesn’t ap­pear to be keep­ing its pow­der dry for May 13, though. Con­sign­ments for its Good­wood Mem­bers’ Meet­ing sale on March 19 in­clude a very pretty 1934 1.5 Litre Long Chas­sis Tourer (£120,000150,000) and an im­pres­sively ac­cu­rate DP214 Com­pe­ti­tion Coupé replica (£600,000-700,000). That the house has not felt the need to hold back such cars un­til May sug­gests that there is plenty to look for­ward to…


From top David Brown’s per­sonal DB MKII, con­signed to Good­ing’s Amelia Is­land sale; a beau­ti­ful 1938 15/98 will be of­fered by RM Sotheby’s; this DP214 replica will be sold by Bon­hams

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