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Bentley Tourer, Ustinov’s Aston Martin Lead $8 Million Auction

Aston Martin DB4 Vantage
A 1961 Aston Martin DB4 Vantage convertible was included in the "Salon Prive" sale of 57 U.K.-manufactured autos held by RM Auctions at Syon Park in London on June 23. It was one of only 70 DB4 convertibles built and sold for 431,200 pounds. Photographer: Tim Scott/RM Auctions via Bloomberg

An Aston Martin formerly owned by the actor Peter Ustinov and a Bentley Speed Six Tourer were among the top lots of a car auction last night as collectors bought British classics.

The vehicles were two of 57 being offered by RM Auctions at Syon House in west London. The Canadian-based company sold 44 of its lots for 5 million pounds ($8 million) including fees, against a presale estimate of about 5 million pounds at hammer prices.

Exceptional cars are in demand from wealthy investors, with Aston Martin among the desirable marques. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s drive in an DB6 at the royal wedding in April heightened awareness of the maker, seen by some buyers as the British equivalent of Ferrari. Even with the James Bond association, Astons have been undervalued, dealers said.

“At least two billionaires have been buying Aston Martins aggressively over the last three or four years,” said Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI), a London-based research company.

The Ustinov DB4 Vantage Convertible, dating from 1961, sold for 431,200 pounds. The left-hand drive model had been bought new by Ustinov and had been entered fresh to the market by its Swiss owner with an estimate of 250,000 pounds to 320,000 pounds. Finished in its original Royal Claret, it attracted five bidders before selling to an undisclosed buyer.

Le Mans Tourer

The top price of the evening was 470,400 pounds, for a 1929 Bentley Speed Six “Le Mans’’ Tourer, recreated in the 1970s using an original chassis. It was estimated to sell for between 450,000 pounds and 550,000 pounds and attracted three bidders.

A 1926 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Experimental Sports Tourer sold to a Japanese client for 392,000 pounds. The price was below the minimum valuation of 400,000 pounds, reflecting the thinner buyer base for pre-World War II models.

RM was holding its first sale to coincide with the Salon Prive and its Concours d’Elegance.

This three-day event, now in its sixth year, saw owners competing against each other in a series of beauty contests for various classes of classic cars and motorcycles. The lovingly presented autos were displayed on the lawns surrounding the Duke of Northumberland’s Middlesex home.

Among the vehicles attracting admiring glances were a futuristic 1934 Dymaxion three-wheeler belonging to the architect Norman Foster and a 1939 Alfa Romeo 6c 2500 S Berlinetta that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini gave to his mistress, Claretta Petacci.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

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