The much-hyped Austin-Healey 100S that was implicated in the tragedy at the 1955 Le Mans 24 Hours in which 83 spectators died when Pierre Levegh's Mercedes catapulted into the crowd sold at auction today for an astonishing £843,000 including premium.
The £765,000 hammer price achieved for the ex-Lance Macklin works team car at Bonhams' year-end fixture at Mercedes-Benz World smashes all known records for an Austin-Healey of any description. The total was nearly a quarter of a million pounds over Bonhams' £500-600,000 estimate.
The price for the largely derelict, but complete remains of NOJ 393, the 1953 100S prototype that was involved in the collision with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, was far and away the sale’s top result.
The Healey, which also boasts Sebring 12 Hours and Carrera PanAmericana competition history, was bought by a Continental collector in the room after he went against another bidder on the floor, and one on the phone, to secure the car by just £3000. The works racer had been in the same hands for the past 42 years.
Bidding opened at £500,000 and rose rapidly in £20,000 increments before cooling off at £725,000 – with the resultant tension silencing the packed saleroom before the hammer came down £40,000 later. The buyer indicated that the car will be restored in the UK.
The sale included another significant example of the Healey marque – AHX 11, the ex-Turin Motor show pre-production 1953 100, which changed hands for £102,700 (estimate £100-120,000).
Full sale report tomorrow.