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

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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones