Features: Triumph-lover Pete and Founding Editor Charlie indulge in classics at the Automobiles of London auction (RM Auction)

The forthcoming Automobiles of London auction caught my attention when reading the latest RM Auctions newsletter on September 15. At first I wondered if this was the right move for Retro and Classic Cars? Sure, we’ve briefly covered RM Auctions classic car sales before, but this would be the first actual visit to one of the auction houses. This then led to few of days pondering followed by discussions with Triumph-lover Pete.

A month quickly disappeared and it was soon hours till the day of one of the most prestigious auctions in the UK.  On the morning of the sale there was certain nervousness in the air when I woke up, which then resulted in me skipping breakfast. Like last time I decided to take a trip to London, the cats were the ones who were disturbed. I didn’t have time to pander to their needs, so rushed out of the house and pegged up to the bus station with Triumph-lover Pete.
Later we arrived in rush-hour London. At the coach station I suggested we should enjoy some car spotting en route, so instead of following the simple instructions to Battersea Park we soon found ourselves in not so familiar South Kensington. It was certainly motoring nirvana, surrounded by Aston Martins, classic Austins, and many a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow lurking around on the side streets. As we worked our way further away from the planned destination something became very clear, London was packed.

Time was ticking on and we soon discovered we were miles off from the Park. After a predictable diversion by Triumph-lover Pete we soon found ourselves using our pathetic Google map to help guide us back on track. To cut a long route short, we somehow ended up at Buckingham Palace via the wrong bridge.

Suddenly it was midday, but we had made it to the venue. As we approached the Chelsea Bridge entrance it was evident that we had reached the pinnacle of car auctions. We were surrounded by classic Astons from the 1970s era and the genuine 1960 Hiller UH-12 E4 Helicopter from the 1964 ‘Goldfinger’ James Bond film in the car park. This was period cool at its best! We continued in, what appeared to be a temporary building for the auction, faced with a gorgeous Ferrari F40, Mercedes Benz 300SL, Ferrari Enzo and a Bentley 4 1/4 Litre Cabriolet.

Aston Martin DBS

The classics kept on luring us in as we continued through the doors on the left leading through to the main section. Although this might have been the only auction that Retro and Classic Cars (R&CC) had actually been to, my word was it worth the effort. Once in the glorious auction hall there is certainly presence of wealth, eccentrics, and an uncanny collection of enthusiasts and collectors. It didn’t matter where we looked; there was an opulent collection of cars before our eyes.

Dual-Ghia L6.4 Coupe

Facel Vega HK500

An illustration of how eccentric the atmosphere was is a brief discussion that followed when we bumped into an Aston Martin enthusiast of sorts. Triumph-lover appropriately answered the chap: “Yeah, I can’t understand why people would buy them.” This was when referring to modern Astons, but was soon misread by his reply from the gentleman: “Why would one even consider a modern Aston Martin when you can buy an Aston Martin DB4 for £130,000?” We agreed with his point, but we discovered he was more of an artist. “I mean look it,” he added. “It’s absolutely stunning, stunning, stunning, stunning.”  This led to myself and Pete popping off to look at some of the Hooper Specials available where we could gather our thoughts.

As we continued to walk around the hall we were honored to be mixing in such circles, even if most of the lots were outside R&CC’s budget.  The condition of the classic automobiles was surreal, as the engine bays and bodywork was pristine. At these auctions, rust and dirt is unheard of, with the odd exception.

The collection Aston Martins was certainly bringing in interest. We don’t blame them either.

By mid-afternoon the beginning of the sale was approaching. We worked our way towards the back of the building, where the lots were going to be sold. Before we knew it, all of the potential bidders had grabbed every seat leaving us to stand us for the full five hours of the auction. Well, you can’t have it all can you?

A huge amount gathered around the Lamborghini Countach LP400 ‘Periscopo’

Once away the atmosphere was fairly laid back, but it soon became tense when the serious bidding begun on the dearer lots, such as the Aston Martin V8 Volante ‘Princes of Wales’ specification, Aston Martin DB5 convertible, De Doin-Bouton Model ADL Rear-entry Tonneau and the Aston Martin DB4 convertible to name a few.

Aston Martin V8 Volante ”Prince of Wales’ specification above

Our favourite car of day went to the Lamborghini Muira SV. A legendary classic in so many ways and an absolute bargain at £700k. I still have soft spot for the Vector W8 Twin Turbo that sold for £179k.

As quickly the lots had been sold, time soon caught up on us. The time had come to leave the nostalgic world of the rich and head back to reality.

It had been a day full of excitement, meeting some interesting characters and seeing some of the world’s most exotic cars.

A must for the eccentric petrolhead.

Click to see the rest of the photos.


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