McCartney Lamborghini, Aston Martin Boost $11.6 Million Auction

Lamborghini 400GT 2 + 2
A 1967 Lamborghini 400GT 2 + 2 described as formerly owned by Paul McCartney. On July 1 it was included in the 19th auction of classic cars held by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England. Source: Bonhams via Bloomberg

A Lamborghini once owned by Paul McCartney, an Aston Martin cabriolet and a Bugatti Type 35B led sales at a 7.2 million-pound ($11.6 million) auction as wealthy collectors splashed out on classic cars of their youth.

Beatles fans and car collectors were lured by the 400GT 2+2 Lamborghini that last night sold to a phone bidder for 122,500 pounds with fees. It was estimated to fetch between 100,000 pounds and 120,000 pounds in the 19th annual Bonhams event at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England.

“Collectors always like to buy the cars they grew up with,” Dietrich Hatlapa, founder of Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI), a London-based research company, said before the event. “There’s been a generational shift and wealthy people in their 40s and 50s are now pushing up the prices of sports models from the 1960s and 70s.”

Some exceptional cars are making record prices, said dealers. Lamborghini, along with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche, is among a group of sports marques from the 1960s and ’70s that is rising in price at a time when the values of other classic models remain little changed.

While other collecting areas, such as Chinese antiques, contemporary art, wine and silver, have surged, the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) Top 50 index of exceptional classic-car prices has gained 1.47 percent this year, lower than its average annual growth of more than 12 percent from 2003 to 2008.

Beatle History

McCartney was the 400GT’s first owner, according to three histories of the Italian luxury carmaker, which began producing sports models in competition with Ferrari in 1963. The four-seater 400GT was the second model made by industrialist Ferruccio Lamborghini. About 250 examples were made, said Bonhams.

The Beatle may not have kept the car for more than three years, according to Stewart Skilbeck, a Bonhams motoring specialist, though the original log book hasn’t been retained. The seller, Suffolk-based collector Nic Portway, acquired the vehicle in 1979.

The sportster was originally orange, as befitted a car made in 1967, the year of “Sergeant Pepper” and the Summer of Love, and later given a wine-red livery.

In October, RM Auctions sold a yellow 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV, whose first owner had been the singer Rod Stewart, for 694,400 pounds ($1.1 million) against an upper forecast of 560,000 pounds.

Innes Ireland

The top price of yesterday’s sale was the 606,500 pounds paid by an unidentified woman in the saleroom for a 1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Cabriolet that had formerly been owned by the U.K.- born Grand Prix racing driver, Innes Ireland.

One of two such models known to have been styled by the Italian coachbuilder Bertone, it had had originally been made for the San Francisco-based collector Edith Field. The car was recently restored to concours condition and valued at 500,000 pounds to 700,000 pounds.

A 1925 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix two-seater, formerly owned by past Bugatti Owners’ Club director Jack Perkins, sold to a phone buyer for 430,500 pounds, against an estimate of 400,000 pounds to 500,000 pounds.

Bonhams’s auction, featuring 99 classic vehicles, raised 7.2 million pounds with fees, a record for its Goodwood sales, with 85 percent of lots finding buyers. The event had been expected to raise 6.9 million pounds to 8.6 million pounds. The equivalent event last year made 3.6 million pounds from 93 cars.

(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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