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Aston Martin Races to Record $32 Million Asking Price

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Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The only Aston Martin to have won the Le Mans 24-Hour race is up for sale, priced at a record $32 million.

The green DBR1 was driven by Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori in the world’s most famous endurance race in 1959. It is on consignment from a collector at the Berkshire, England-based dealer Talacrest, with a formal 20 million-pound asking price, making it the world’s most valuable British-made car.

The Le Mans-winning Aston had been previously acquired by Talacrest for $2 million from the French collector Jacky Setton in 1992, according to the company’s managing director, John Collins, who sold the car to its current owner. Four offers below its new 2012 price have so far been declined, he said.

Postwar rarities from marques such as Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche have climbed in value as rich individuals, keen to diversify their investments, eye classic cars as an alternative asset class. Last month’s car auctions in California raised a record $263.3 million, a 33 percent increase on 2011.

Aston Martin, owned by David Brown, made four team DBR1 cars in the 1950s to challenge Ferrari in the World Sports Car Championship. The U.K. manufacturer won the title in 1959.

This particular version, numbered DBR1/2, was also driven to victory by Stirling Moss in the RAC Tourist Trophies at Goodwood in 1958 and 1959.

If sold for about its asking price, DBR1/2 would be the first British-made car to sell for $30 million -- a figure exceeded by at least two 1960s Ferrari GTO racers in private sales, dealers said.

The highest prices for classic cars are generally achieved through discreet transactions. In June, a 1929 supercharged “Blower” Bentley from the Daniels Collection was sold by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, southern England, for 5 million pounds ($7.8 million), making it the most expensive British-made car ever sold at public auction.

Bus Sale

A British-made vehicle of a rather slower kind was among a miscellany of 167 lots associated with London’s sporting, political and cultural history at Christie’s International.

The 1966 Routemaster double-decker bus that had plied the 73 route from Islington to Park Lane was bought by an online bidder from South Korea for 67,250 pounds on Sept. 3. Finished in classic red London Transport livery, the bus was entered by a U.K.-based collector and estimated at as much as 30,000 pounds.

Online bidding from Korea -- Christie’s wouldn’t confirm if it was the same client -- also secured six out of seven of the outfits that had been worn by Margaret Thatcher, the former U.K. prime minister. A jade green wool suit by Mansfield worn by Thatcher on the day she was confirmed as leader of the Conservative Party in February 1975 proved the most expensive, selling for 25,000 to a U.K. private client.

Mercury Thermometer

One of only three known mercury thermometers by the Dutch inventor Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit is estimated to sell for as much as 100,000 pounds at auction in October.

The recently rediscovered brass instrument is inscribed “Fahrenheit” and “Amst.,” (Amsterdam), where the Dutchman lectured in chemistry from 1718.

Fahrenheit invented the mercury thermometer in 1714. His two previously known examples are in the Museum Boerhaave, Leiden, the Netherlands.

This third was found in a private collection put together in the 1970s, said Christie’s, who will be offering it for sale on Oct. 9 with a low estimate of 70,000 pounds.

“The magic is in the name,” said the Cheshire-based scientific instruments dealer Derek Rayment, whose glass-blower made a new tube and bulb for the thermometer. “It’s a small and fairly standard thing. If it didn’t have Fahrenheit on the back it would be worth about 20 pounds.”

The glassblower took four attempts to replace the thermometer’s 19th century tube and bulb, Rayment said.

“Originally these would have been made first, and then the numbers would be engraved afterwards,” the dealer said. “Making the thing backward is always more difficult.”

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

Muse highlights include Ryan Sutton on restaurants and Rich Jaroslovsky on technology.

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at sreyburn@hotmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.