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;

Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    IT Project Manager

    Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    IT Manager

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London