The Boat Tent at Henley-on-Thames was packed with international connoisseurs and collectors for the Bonhams dispersal sale of the Ward Brothers’ Reserve Collection on Saturday 18 July.
With interest on a global level, total sales reached in excess of £2 million and successful buyers came from no less than fifteen different countries. The sale embraced land, sea and air transport, although it was the cars and motorcycles specifically from the Ward Brothers’ Collection which set the pace.
The 1896 Benz Victoria, a veteran of many London to Brighton Veteran Car Runs and a true horseless carriage, was the top seller on the day at £221,500, returning to its homeland in Germany and comfortably exceeding its pre-sale price guide of £140,000 – £180,000.
Arguably, the fiercest bidding of the day was for the diminutive 1904 Wolseley 6hp two-seater, supplied new to Dublin, having spent much of its life in Ireland. Irish bidders were much in evidence and the nail-biting telephone battle for this car culminated in a record price for the model of £78,500 – the car being acquired by a Dublin collector.
The 1901 Pick is the sole known survivor of that marque and model and was built in Stamford, Lincolnshire. Again local sentiment prevailed, with this car finding a new Lincolnshire home at £52,100, and the sporting French-built 1909 Sizaire-Naudin boasting just one cylinder and a top speed of approximately 40mph raced home to a French buyer for £40,000 – double the top pre-sale estimate.
Amongst the motorcycles on offer, the 1927 Scott, which had been raced that year on the Isle of Man by Harry Langman for the Works Team, reached a staggering £32,775 (shattering its pre-sale estimate £16,000 – £20,000). An ever-popular 1951 Vincent Series C Black Shadow – the ultimate British bike of its era – was bought by a British collector for a record-breaking £69,150.
Aircraft were represented by a fragile 1935 Scott Flying Flea sold for £6,670 to an English museum – its new owner fortunately having no plans to fly it home! Whereas on the nautical front, a delightful Gentleman’s Steam Launch, ‘Lady Rose’, achieved £11,500 and was, rather fittingly, ready to launch on the Thames.
Stewart Skilbeck, Motoring Specialist at Bonhams said: "The £2 million sale reflected continued resilience in the veteran and vintage market place for both cars and motorcycles. Notably, most vehicles were bought by enthusiasts who had every intention of driving or riding their purchases."