Come on then, what's it worth!

It didn't go off with a bang, but deals on wheels were still done at Bonhams' valuation day, says Giles Chapman

This was only the second year that a Motoring Valuation Day had been hosted by the auctioneer at Bantock House in Wolverhampton. But, after eight hours of hanging about, only a dozen old cars had turned up for appraisal. I arrived after proceedings had been open for an hour, but the only early showing about which Bonhams' Ben Walker enthused was a 1970s British Leyland Sherpa motorhome - unusual, in good nick, but worth £500 under a generous gavel.

Yet, to dismiss the day as a wash-out - the local paper seemingly failed to state which Thursday the event would be on - is to misunderstand the classic car and collectibles auction business. According to Bonhams' Stewart Skilbeck, even casual chats can lead to important lots being consigned. "It's at enthusiast level that we find clients," he says. "Today's a grass-roots event; that's where great things turn up."

Wolverhampton has already proved a gold mine for Skilbeck. "We once had a call from a wealthy local gentleman who had owned a Ferrari 250 GT Lusso from new. It was the late 1980s and, when I first valued the car, I told him it would make £30,000; when we took it in 18 months later, the value had risen to £150,000. We gave it a reserve of £160,000, and sold it for £270,000."

Also, Wolverhampton has a motoring heritage likely to yield lost treasures. Sunbeam cars were made here, as were Turner sports cars, Guy trucks and Meadows engines. In 2004, one local turned up with the 1927 production ledgers from the Sunbeam works.

If you've watched BBC2's The Royle Family, in which the couch-potatoes enjoy The Antiques Roadshow by bawling, "Come on, what's it worth!", at the TV, you can guess the motivation of some visitors to Bonhams' Valuation Day. Brian Fletcher of Albrighton is typical: he says he's not selling his 1972 Alfa Romeo GT1600 Junior... but would not mind Skilbeck's free expertise.

He's happy with his estimate of £9,000, a grand more than he'd had it insured for. So, will it be heading for Bonhams' next sale? "Oh, no!" he says, aghast, "but it's great to know his opinion of the car is the same as mine." As the Alfa roars off, Skilbeck says that it's the sort of vehicle he'd be happy to take bids on. "It's got the three best things: originality, patina and condition."

At the opposite end of the motoring time line is a 1902 Wolseley. The owner, Mike MacNamara, is pleased with Skilbeck's £65,000 estimate. Again, it's not for sale but, after much negotiation, Skilbeck clinches another vehicle, mysteriously referred to as "the steam car" for auction from MacNamara's collection.

And so, the afternoon unfolds, friendly chats leading to numbers being taken and meetings planned. A vintage Rolls, an Aston Martin DB5, an Austin Healey 3000 and some BSA bikes come and go. Local colour comes in the form of a yellow 1972 Jensen Healey. Built in West Bromwich, its owner, Mike Collins, is satisfied at the £5,000 verdict. "I've got no intention of selling it," he says. If, however, it turns up in a forthcoming Bonhams catalogue, we'll understand. He's only human, after all.

For details of Bonhams Valuation Days: 01902 710660; www.bonhams.com

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

    £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

    Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

    Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

    Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

    £25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

    Day In a Page

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

    The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
    Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

    When two worlds collide

    Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?