The perfect car at the perfect price – what could go wrong?


Author: James ElliottPublished:

A huge amount of emphasis – and subsequently value – is put on competition history in the classic car world, but this week I received proof that a wonderful back-story doesn’t necessarily have to catapult a car’s price into the squillions.

I was up at H&H’s Chateau Impney sale near Droitwich and, while there was lots of of lovely kit there and some very tempting unlovely kit, too, for me one relatively humble offering stood head and shoulders above all others. The fact that someone drove away in it after the hammer came down at just £12,500 – barely any more than a ‘normal’ example of the model – was as life-affirming as it was envy-inducing.

What made this particular car interesting was that it had belonged to legendary Autosport figure Gregor Grant. Legendary sound a bit strong? Bear in mind that Grant not only founded the weekly bible of British motorsport in 1950 but then edited it for nearly two decades before his death meant someone else – C&SC’s own Simon Taylor, no less – taking up the reins.

Grant was a fascinating character, so utterly immersed in his subject matter that it was his oxygen. And, of course, he loved to compete. As a result, having been used as a press car in 1953, his MG YB was driven by him on the 1954 Rallye Monte-Carlo. Setting off from Glasgow with George Phillips – who also took the car circuit racing – on board. It finished as well, but was subsequently disqualified for checkpoint skipping.

I’ll be honest, it is not the most campaigned car in history, nor the most successful, but it was being sold with its Monte Carlo badge, some more history and a couple of book appearances under its belt. It was just a charming car that I would have loved to be in a position to buy, but seeing as I am not I am delighted that someone could without paying through the nose for it.



Chris Martin

The type of story one likes to hear, and it shows that some do still slip through the net. Luckily I guess the trade did not see the possibility of a fast buck, or maybe one lucky dealer did, we will soon see if it turns up in the classifieds again.
As prices for some models continue to go beyond most sensible budgets, what is the average working person going to be left with?
This suggests there are still opportunities to get behind the wheel of something interesting without paying through the nose.
I might even suggest that there are many of the higher prices being paid for whatever is the latest in vogue classic just because of the lack of imagination of the herd mentality, and for those willing to - and I really hate this cliché, but it is apt here - think outside the box, can escape being sucked in.
When E-Types regularly go for six-figure sums for example, (and I have nothing against E-Types, but they were after all produced in large numbers) a fifties MG with history at that price makes a lot more sense.
I have often scanned the auction reports in C&SC and wondered about some of the prices, surely a bit of lateral thinking, and the will to 'be different' can still land you a bargain. As James knows the story of my Arkley, I am happy to add that a couple of weeks ago I happened to park it next to a late model Ferrari outside a beachside café just down the road, and it was my $10k 'WhatIsItMr?' that was getting all the attention from passers-by, not the half a million dollar red posemobile!
Here's a thought though, next time you speak to Simon, just check it wasn't him that grabbed Gregor's MG!


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