Welcome to Frank Dale & Stepsons Autumn newsletter. With all of the motoring events throughout the simply glorious summer we enjoyed in the UK, as well as visits from many of our customers to the showroom, it's been a busy few months at the company. It was a summer of hose pipe bans, scorched lawns, a World Cup tournament that finally gave England fans something to cheer about and be proud of - not to mention Gareth Southgate's waistcoats, (clearly a trend I had already started as many of you know), a royal wedding featuring the beautiful and regal Phantom IV from the Queen's collection and most importantly many hours of enjoyment behind the wheel of numerous classic convertibles. Were you one of these lucky drivers? I certainly hope so. One thing the British sunshine can remind you of is how wonderful it is to be out on the open road in a classic car you love!
We always try to attend as many motoring events as we can at Frank Dale and this summer was packed with them. May and June are always busy months for us with the club rallies taking place and the traditional season opener in the UK for Rolls-Royce and Bentley lovers is usually the RREC South of England rally which moves from venue to venue each year. This year's host was the fabulous Brooklands motor circuit, steeped in automotive history. The motor museum is well worth a look and if you venture up onto the remaining section of original track, you get a great feel for what those brave drivers back in the 1920's went through, haring along at furious speeds around the banking of the famous circuit.
When I visit, I always like to pay homage to my grandfather Jack Crickmay who raced at Brooklands during that era. He had some success too, with a plaque dedicated to him and his motoring achievements mounted on the clubhouse wall. Emma and I took BC10AF along to join the gathering of cars. The sun was out, it's not too far from home and it was a very pleasant drive through the avenues of northwest Surrey. There were some lovely cars on display, particularly in the pre-war section. One of my favourite cars was in attendance; a Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental saloon with coachworks by Kellner, which sports a magnificent and grandiose interior that suits it beautifully.
Our merry band of drivers set off from London early that morning with five Bentleys in convoy giving the traffic on the M4 a sight to drool over on our way to the venue. It is always a joy to receive waves and toots of appreciation from other road users when we take these magnificent cars out on the road where they belong. A feeling I'm sure you can relate to from your own classic cars. Our four car stand was busy all day and I'm delighted to say we also secured a sale at the event. We also represented Chassis No BC4AF in the concours which came perhaps a little too soon if truth be told. Time beat us to the post and we hadn't managed to complete the car in full, for concours standard judging. Whilst I was frustrated by this set back the car still received "highly commended" in the concours and also won the people's choice award at the prize giving ceremony. Following a homemade picnic lunch for our supporting team, a catch up with some friends and their cars plus a stroll around the beautiful Stonor Park gardens, which I would fully recommend by the way, we headed back to London, a little more tanned than we had started the day thanks to the beautiful weather.
A larger event than the Bentley rally, it stretches over three days, with more cars, more visitors and tougher competition in the concours. We had a four car stand and were once again blessed with gorgeous weather, with temperatures around 27 degrees for the three days. As well as our sun hats on display we took with us a charming Harrison bodied Rolls-Royce 20HP with a Tickford roof, a 4 ¼ Litre Open Tourer Derby Bentley by Corsica, a Silver Cloud III drophead coupe by Mulliner/Park Ward and also BC4AF which was entered into its next concours. Following a few extra days work post the Bentley concours to cover some of the outstanding points, I felt much happier with BC4AF being entered into the RREC concours. The car achieved a very worthy score of 93/100. Sadly, this wasn't quite enough to win a prize, shy by two points from first place and one from second place in class, but with the restoration now heading towards its conclusion, we were certainly on the right track. We have since completed the car and feel confident it would now reach a score much nearer the critical 100 points if judged today.
However, entering a concours is not something Frank Dale have done historically but we are changing that with a personal ambition of mine and the team's hunger for excellence, so we will be entering cars we have restored into more concours events in the coming years, a challenge we relish. For our first concours events we certainly came away with one lesson learnt: if the car isn't finished, fettled and tested exactly how you want it to be, leave it for next year!
This beautifully organised event is fast becoming one of our favourites in the motoring calendar. This year we had three cars on display, two post war Bentley Continentals and a lovely 1937 Bentley 4 ¼ Litre with Gurney Nutting coachwork. We also represented BC4AF in the main event which we were very proud to do once again, especially as the restoration was now finished in comprehensive fashion just a couple of days before the start of the event. On Friday morning the cars in the sixty strong concours drove through the palace gardens as part of the grand parade, and what a sight they made with the backdrop of the magnificent Hampton Court. The three day event was blessed with blue skies and crowds there to admire not only the cars, but the beautiful location. The best of show honours went to Bruce McCaw's stunning 1928 Mercedes-Benz, following on from its best of show win at Pebble Beach in 2017 and few could argue with this result.
We chose to do the Goodwood Revival slightly differently this year, by attending as visitors rather than exhibitors, which was a new experience for us, but a very enjoyable one none the less. Emma and I drove down to the famous track on Saturday morning, selecting an S1 Continental drophead coupe by Park Ward as our wheels for the day. Driving such a car through the winding West Sussex countryside on a sunny September day is hard to beat. A quick pitstop in Petworth for lunch was enjoyable and we arrived in good spirits to take in the event. The first thing we noticed was how busy the pre 1966 car park was, fit to bursting with a huge array of classic motor cars. It was too good to walk idly by and we spent over an hour inspecting the cars before we walked through the gates of the main event. Along with several Bentleys and Rolls- Royces parked up, some notable cars in attendance were a couple of well exercised W.O. Bentleys, a lovely R Type Continental, and "Nelly" The Taj Mahal Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. We also admired lots of lovely classic British sports cars with a notable array of European registration plates -always pleasing to see visitors from all over the continent sharing the Brits passion for our classic cars. A quick look around the auction tent was followed by some trackside action, watching the brave and spirited vintage racing that makes Revival what it is. As the Spitfires buzzed around the skies, we set off back to Surrey following a very enjoyable day.
The most high profile and eagerly anticipated auctions of the year are during Monterey car week and with good reason as the catalogues are arguably the best quality of the year, so I think it is important to study these results in particular when looking at the classic car market as a whole. Bonhams kicked off the week at The Quail with a very respectable $37,000,000 sale and a sell through rate of 87%. The 6 1/2 Litre Bentley by Barker sold well at $1,655,000 following its recent restoration and other great results included the sale of the 1937 Mercedes Benz 540K Sports Roadster for $3,277,500.
The two day RM Sotheby's sale had numerous big ticket cars offered, none more so than the holy grail of Ferraris, a 1962 Ferrari GTO which made $48,405,000 when the dust settled. Other great success stories during the sale included the 1963 Aston Martin DP215 which made $21,455,000 and the 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II which made $9,795,000. A total of $158,000,000 of cars were sold at a sell through rate of 83%. The most high profile and eagerly anticipated auctions of the year are during Monterey car week and with good reason as the catalogues are arguably the best quality of the year, so I think it is important to study these results in particular when looking at the classic car market as a whole. Bonhams kicked off the week at The Quail with a very respectable $37,000,000 sale and a sell through rate of 87%. The 6 1/2 Litre Bentley by Barker sold well at $1,655,000 following its recent restoration and other great results included the sale of the 1937 Mercedes Benz 540K Sports Roadster for $3,277,500. Darin Schnabel 2018 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's RM Sotheby's/Simon Clay
Gooding completed the proceedings for the week, totalling near $116,000,000 worth of sales at a rate of 83%. Feature lots that did very well included the 1935 Duesenberg SSJ which sold for $22,000,000, almost double its pre-sale estimate. I imagine Gooding had a very happy vendor on their hands that evening. Other big ticket cars included a 1958 Ferrari 250GT Tour de France which sold for $6,600,000 and a 1955 Maserati A6GCS Spyder for $5,170,000. With each great success, there are also the inevitable disappointments. High profile failures included the 1962 Ferrari 250GT at Bonhams, the 1968 Porsche 908 Works Short tail at RM and the 1956 Maserati A6G/54 at Gooding. However, the sales were very positive on the whole, eclipsing the totals from 2017 by some $30,000,000.
There was also a greater number of Rolls-Royce and Bentleys offered for sale at Pebble Beach this year than in previous years. Notable successes came in the form of the 1956 Bentley S1 Continental drop head coupe by Park Ward which sold for $1,655,000. In my view this model is becoming the 'must have' post war Bentley to many collectors and the combination of left drive configuration and attractive two tone colour scheme helped this particular car achieve a handsome price. Another desirable post war model up for sale was a 1958 Bentley S1 Continental Fastback by H.J.Mulliner which sold for $912,500. Again a great specification, the attractive colour scheme and high quality restoration proved a winning combination for bidders. And whilst seemingly less valuable a 1959 Bentley S1 Continental Four Light Flying Spur by H.J.Mulliner (the rarest of the four door saloons by this coachbuilder) sold for a very decent price at $296,500.
All three of these cars are difficult to acquire, have beautiful colour schemes and come with excellent pedigree having been prepared by noted specialists. It seems that more and more this proves to be a recipe for success. However, auctions are nothing if not a surprise sometimes and a notable failure on this occasion came in the form of the very important R Type Continental Chassis No BC1A, the very first production car. Perhaps the cost of necessary improvement works and the slightly quirky colour scheme of this car didn't spark the imagination or appetite of bidders on the day. All in all, the overall results were very good for Rolls-Royce and Bentleys that featured at these sales.