Should a car be worth more because it previously belonged to a celebrity?
That’s up for debate, but some people certainly think so, because vehicles previously owned by Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen, Jay Kay and Noel Edmonds were among the big sellers at Silverstone Auctions’ Classic Motor Show sale this week.
The showbiz-related cars were far from the only big successes, though, with an Aston Martin DB6, Porsche 911 ‘Flatnose’, Maserati 3500GT and Facel Vega HK500 all selling handsomely; in all, £4.2million of cars changed hands.
The Sinatra car – a 1984 Rolls-Royce Corniche – was a particular success, going for £140,625 (including buyer’s premium). That’s more than £15,000 above its upper estimate, but hardly a surprise given its provenance: it was a 70th-birthday present to the star from his Rat Pack buddies Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
What’s more, it went to auction in fantastic shape, with just 66,550 miles on the clock and having been treated to a £47,000 refurbishment recently.
The McQueen machine was a little less glamorous, but no less in demand.
A 1945 Willys Jeep MB, it was owned by the Hollywood actor in the last few years of his life and was recently treated to a thorough recommissioning by marque specialists Jeeparts-UK to return it to the condition it would have been in while in McQueen’s collection.
A fierce bidding war at the sale – or rather over the phone – between four prospective buyers drove the price above its lower estimate of £80,000, with the gavel finally falling at £84,375, including premium.
On a slightly different level of fame, a Jaguar E-type once owned by Noel Edmonds sold for the same figure.
Staying in the UK celebrity sphere, sometime acid-jazz star and noted car enthusiast Jay Kay had eight vehicles on the lot list, and seven of them duly sold.
Price-wise the most notable were a couple of BMWs: the 1989 E30 M3 ‘Johnny Cecotto’ limited-edition and the ’96 850CSi, each of which made £85,500. The ’67 Ford Mustang 390GT Fastback that’s a near-exact replica of the Bullitt car, shown at the top of this page, meanwhile, went for £54,000 – considerably less than a non-Jay Kay example that sold for £90,000.
The most expensive item in Kay’s collection, a 2016 McLaren 675LT, failed to find a buyer – if you fancy it, it's yours for a mere £247,250 – but another younger car, a 2015 Porsche 911 targa 4S, sold for a healthy £79,875.
At the other end of the scale, a 2001 Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen was bought for £30,375 while another Merc, a 1989 300SL, went for £28,688. And finally, a rare 1996 Volvo 850R Sport-Wagon was something of a steal at £14,000.
The priciest car in the field, though, was one without any kind of showbiz connection – well, other than that shared by every Aston Martin. We're talking about this 1966 DB6 Automatic Sports Saloon, which has enjoyed considerable restoration work and which changed hands for £214,313.
Other cars we liked in the field included a couple of gorgeous Maseratis with very different price tags: a 3500GT went for £145,000, while a ’79 Merak 2000GT looked a bargain at just over £30k.
Fast Fords continued to do well, with a 1993 Escort RS Cosworth in superb condition selling for £60,188; a 1987 Capri 280 ‘Brooklands’ was another favourite of ours, and sold for £29,475.
One of the auction’s biggest lots was a 1985 Porsche 911 (930) turbo SE in ‘flatnose’ guise, which made £166,500, but it was another German car that had the most heart-warming story – a Volkswagen Beetle which raised £33,750 for charity.
The 1958 VW had been restored by Ant Anstead for Channel 4’s For the Love of Cars, and was sold at the series’ end in January 2015.
Bought at that time by Asif Ansari, it was then offered for sale again at the NEC, with the proceeds going to the Brain Tumour Research Centre in Birmingham in honour of Ansari’s late brother Abid, who sadly passed away due to a brain tumour in 2003.
“To sell two of Hollywood’s most beloved superstars’ cars at the NEC was a real honour for the team,” says Harry Whale, classic car specialist at Silverstone Auctions.
“We saw fantastic results throughout the two-day sale and it was exciting to see these two truly one of a kind cars sell at our 2018 season finale.”