Bonhams is delighted to have been instructed to handle the dispersal sale of reserve vehicles from The Ward Brothers’ Collection – one of Europe’s foremost groups of early automobiles – at 2pm on Saturday 18th July at Henley-on-Thames. The brothers, Toby and Daniel, have a motoring heritage and both have gone on to amass a unique collection of early vehicles which they actively campaign both nationally and abroad. To enable this to further develop, the dispersal sale represents a rationalisation of the vehicles, removing duplication and releasing projects to the market which would not otherwise be completed.
The sale includes a series of outstanding lots, highlights of which include a 1901 Panhard-Levassor 2.4-litre Forward Control Cab Phaeton, the only one of its kind still in existence. The Cab is in exceptional condition and eight years ago was the second finisher in the annual London-Brighton Veteran Car Run, demonstrating that it still has good power. The guide price for this lot is £200,000-250,000. The 1896 Benz 5hp Victoria – from literally the dawn of motoring – is another important veteran, estimated at £140,000-180,000.
Another leading lot is the outstanding ex-Alf Briggs and Eric Houseley 1928 McEvoy-JAP motorcycle with a 980cc vee-twin engine. This exquisite motorcycle is estimated at between £120,000-150,000. The colourful 1899 Panhard-Levassor Wagonette is also worth highlighting, with the guide price similarly set at between £120,000-150,000.
Some of the cars in the sale have colourful histories, such as the 1911 RMC Seabrook 20hp Roadster. A top endurance racer – it won the Essex Motor Hill Climb in 1911 – the car was later donated to the War Department. Post-war, the car became a fixture at a boy’s prep school in Kent where it was adapted to roll the cricket pitches. It was from its position on the outfield that the car was spotted, in the 1960s, by a diplomat from the Foreign Office who acquired the vehicle for the princely sum of a pitch-roller and a jar of sweets for the pupils. He lovingly restored the car to its former glories and it is now expected to fetch between £25,000-35,000 at auction.
Meanwhile, a rare 1899 Phebus Forecar is also part of the sale. Distinctive for the driver sitting behind his passengers, this vehicle proved surprisingly effective. This is believed to be the only remaining vehicle of its kind, and as such is expected to achieve between £30,000-35,000. Similarly unusual is an 1898 De Dion Bouton 1 ¾ hp Tricycle, which is estimated at between £30,000-40,000, whilst buyers with a penchant for planes will be fascinated by the 1935 Scott Flying Flea Light Aircraft, which is expected to achieve £4,000-6,000 in the sale.
James Knight, International Managing Director of the Bonhams Motoring Department comments: "This is one of the most interesting sales we have handled in years. It focuses towards the early period of motoring – the most modern car in the sale dates from 1926 – with many rare vehicles, and some the last of their kind surviving. As such we anticipate interest coming in from around the world, from collectors to institutions".