Peugeot L45 Grand Prix Racer makes a world record, as does the Benz Prinz Heinrich Raceabout, and more; Auction achieves more than $13.7-million
12 November 2017 – It’s the last of the kind – a self-contained 16-acre working citrus farm, ringed with towering palm trees, sprinkled with WWII-era ranch buildings, situated just over the hill from Los Angeles. It’s an oasis of green and calm surrounded on every side by suburbs; a hold-out from a half-century of rapid development and a rare window into early 20th century southern California life.
This is the Bothwell Ranch where Bonhams auctioned Saturday the incredible collection of Lindley and Ann Bothwell under beautiful blue skies. Consisting of what is one of the world’s most important assemblies of pre-Great War racing automobiles, not to mention an incredible assortment of Brass Era touring cars, horse-drawn street cars, and one of the best collections of early model trains in the world, the Bothwell Collection – and its setting – is without equal.
The Bothwells, pioneers in the automotive world, began forming the collection in the 1930s and most of the cars have famously been in these private hands for more than half a century. And so, with what Bonhams’ Chairman Malcolm Barber aptly called a “generational opportunity,” vast numbers of enthusiasts came to the property on a picture-perfect day to preview the cars placed amid the orange groves, marvel at the history, and enjoy a lovely day bidding on railwayana, automobilia and rare automobiles.
Bidders in the audience came from as far away as New Zealand and Holland, while bidders on the telephones and internet spanned the world. The extensive collection of automobilia was 100% sold, making more than triple the low estimate. The collection of street cars and the locomotive too were 100% sold, with the narrow-gauge Baldwin engine making $187,500 – more than eight times its low estimate.
The incredible collection of 50 automobiles was also 100% sold. Among all the cars that stood out for their rarity, racing provenance, movie star cameos or a combination of them all, the highlight by far was the one-and-only 1914 Peugeot L45 Grand Prix Racer. Having influenced so many legendary builders, from Ettore Bugatti to Harry Miller, this innovative French automobile has been called by many the father of all race cars. From the onset, bidding was brisk and never faltered. Finally, the winning bid was made by a private American collector for $7.26-million – a new world auction record for the marque.
Another highlight included the 1909 Benz Prinz Heinrich Raceabout, formerly owned by Barney Oldfield, that found a new home with a prestigious, private West Coast collection for $1.87-million, also achieving a new world auction record for the marque. Many more highlights punctuated the sale with most of the pre-First War racing cars exceeding – many times doubling or even tripling – their low estimates.
“We are delighted with the outcome,” said Rupert Banner, Bonhams VP of Motoring. “We’re grateful for the confidence placed in us by the Bothwell family trustees and pleased to see the strength in the market. The Bothwell Collection was quite literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it was a privilege to be a part of history.”
For a complete list of results, please visit Bonhams.com/Bothwell.
Story: Provided by Bonhams