1959 Bristol 402 Drophead Coup; Chassis no. 402/704
A rare 1949 Bristol 402 Drophead Coupé bought new for the Hollywood actress Jean Simmons by her future husband and fellow star Stewart Granger, was the star of the weekend's Bonhams MPH Beaulieu Sale, and the top lot achieving £159,750, in the Bonhams MPH two-day auction which achieved an impressive 90% sell-through rate and sale total just shy of £2.5 million.
One of only 24 examples of the glamorous and exclusive convertible produced and one of 12 survivors, the Bristol was one of a matching pair bought by Granger for himself and Simmons and was extensively used to promote the 1949 romantic film Adam and Evelyne, in which the couple starred.
The streamlined convertible had retained its registration number NFP 2 (Granger's car had the number NFP 1) and had covered just over 32,000 miles from new. It was powered by a more potent Frazer Nash 2-litre engine fitted by its next owner, Bristol dealer (and later owner of Bristol Cars) Anthony Crook.
In the Bristol's slipstream was another example of elegant post-war open top motoring: a 1948 Delahaye Type 135M Three-Position Drophead Coupé which sold for £153,125.
Featuring rare coachwork by concours-winning company Pennock, the three-owner motor car had undergone a full restoration and had covered some 26,000 miles from new.
Other highlights of the sale which presented more than 120 modern, popular and historic vehicles, included:
1905 Lorraine-Dietrich CHR Two-Seater Sports-racer, made above estimate, selling for £138,375. A replica of 1905/1906 built from a rolling chassis, with a motorsport pedigree including VSCC races, hill climbs and rallies.
2012 Rolls-Royce Ghost Saloon, sold for £96,750, far exceeding its top estimate of £75,000. A one-owner example which had covered just over 3,000 miles from new, the Ghost had been fitted with a panoramic sunroof.
Another motor car touched by stardust was a 1996 Subaru Impreza Turbo 2000, previously owned by the McRae family and driven by the late Colin McRae, who won the 1995 World Rally Champion in a Subaru Impreza 555. This non-racing example made £11,250.
The Beaulieu Sale, staged as part of the International Autojumble event hosted by the National Motor Museum, also presented 400 lots of automobila. Notable lots included an Austin Pathfinder pedal car requiring restoration which sold for £5,355 and a Spirit of Ecstasy showroom statue after Charles Sykes which made £4,462.
Rob Hubbard, Head of Bonhams MPH, said: "We were delighted to take MPH on tour to Beaulieu, where Bonhams has staged an auction for many years. The weekend attracted some 30,000 visitors resulting in a busy saleroom, leading to our high sell-through rate; proving the appetite for live sales and events among motor car collectors and enthusiasts remains."
The final MPH sale of the year will take place on 11 December, when the team return to Bicester Heritage for the traditional drive-through auction. Consignments are being invited now, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.