Bonhams MPH put on a very eclectic auction at Bicester on March 20 2021, with everything from army troop carriers to supercars crossing the line. Sadly, the more esoteric lots, such as a Batmobile replica, were withdrawn from the sale.
There were still some great results to be seen – a Lotus Esprit V8 GT smashed its pre-sale estimate, as did a Subaru Impreza Series McRae. Meanwhile, a sprinkling of celebrity stardust didn’t make much difference to a Bentley Continental GT Supersports’ final price – but still seemed a bit of a bargain.
For years the Esprit had been criticised for not having what some would deem a ‘proper supercar engine’. The four-cylinders are great, of course, but in 1996 Lotus sought to silence the critics once and for all, and released the Type 918 engine – an all-aluminium flat-plane crank V8 fed by two turbochargers. In testing the engine developed 500bhp, but it had to be detuned to 350bhp as the gearbox couldn’t quite keep up.
The sprint to 60mph took just four seconds and all out you’d be hitting 175mph before the rev limiter kicked in. This particular example looked fabulous in Lotus Racing Green, and had been clearly doted on by its owner, who’d also seen fit to upgrade the brakes. With 57,363 miles on the clock before the sale, it was estimated at £28k to £32k, but ended up selling for £47,250 including the buyer’s premium. Any Esprit, let alone a V8, is rare – could this be a sign of things to come for the late V8 cars?
Prices for rare Subaru Imprezas have caught the eye over recent months – the 22B, in particular, is now a £100k+ car. A minimal-miles one even sold for more than double that.
The 22B was always on that trajectory due to its rarity – so what about other Imprezas in the lineage? The Series McRae seen here is one of 200 special editions built to celebrate Colin McRae’s 1995 World Rally Championship victory. Each car got rally car-aping Mica Blue metallic paint, 16in Speedline alloys and Prodrive-upgraded springs, dampers and anti-roll bars.
This was number 12; it’s estimated that fewer than 50 are left, which helped contribute to its £15k-20k estimate. Wearing 59,700 miles, it had been in dry storage for some time, but not suffered for it – the wheels had been refurbished and a new timing belt fitted. The result? £24,750, which for what it represents, doesn’t seem wrong.
Anyone who has driven a Bentley Continental GT will attest that it’s not exactly lacking in thump, but with a last throw of the dice for the phase one GTs before the facelift, in 2009 Bentley produced something truly special – the Supersports.
Not only was it the first Bentley capable of running on E85 biofuel as well as petrol, but there was an extra slug of power and torque – 621bhp and 590lb ft. This all resulted in the fastest Bentley ever at the time – you’d breeze past 60mph in a smidge under four seconds, wallop 100mph five seconds later and top out at 204mph.
It wasn’t just the engine that got the engineering love – the ZF tiptronic automatic featured 50 per cent quicker shift times, and the ability to double-downshift. It also had a Torsen T-3 centre diff with a 40:50 rear-biased torque split, a 110kg diet, the largest carbon ceramic discs ever fitted to a car at the time and revisions to the damping and stability control systems.
A very special thing then – and it caught the attention of golfer Rory McIlroy, who ordered the car you see before you in 2010, optioning the rear-seat delete (more room for clubs, possibly?).
Estimated at £38k-42k, this 48,500-mile example just creeped over low estimate to £38,250 with fees. That seems like excellent value for something this special.
We’re looking forward to The London Classic Car Show, which for 2021 will be taking place in the beautiful grounds of Syon Park from the 25th – 27th June.
The final preparations for delivery will be happening now. Pages being binded, packed and shipped, ready to be read at the start of April.