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World's oldest Vauxhall among highlights in £1.5 million Bonhams Auction of Veteran Motor Cars
The 1903 two-seater 5hp veteran (estimate £60,000 - £80,000), modelled in cream with brown leather upholstery, was one of several important entries in the auction of Veteran Motor Cars and Related Automobilia. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- The sale of the world’s oldest surviving Vauxhall motor car was among the highlights of the Bonhams Veteran Motor Car auction in New Bond Street, London, on Friday 2nd November.

The 1903 Vauxhall two-seater beat its top estimate to sell for £94,460. Ordered new for Vauxhall managing director Percy Kidner on 6th November 1903, the car passed to its second owner in April the following year, in whose family ownership it has remained ever since. It remained in use as regular transport until about 1920 and then was laid up until 1948, when it was used again by the family before being loaned to The London Science Museum in 1955.

Among other highlights of the £1.5 million auction was the £203,100 achieved for a 1904 Wilson-Pilcher built in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and thought to be the sole surviving example of its type. The extremely rare veteran car was built by Irish-born Walter Wilson (1874 – 1957), an engineer and inventor with an early interest in aviation who was later credited with the invention and development of the first tank, called “Little Willie”, which ran for the first time in September 1915. Wilson’s personal contributions (the all-round track and epicyclic gearing) allowed later versions to be operated by a single driver rather than four, as had previously been the case.

Post war, Wilson used this knowledge of epicyclic gearing (where one or more outer gears revolve around one central cog) to patent the pre-selector epicyclic gearbox, starting a factory in Coventry to manufacture units that were used in generations of armoured vehicles, buses, railcars and marine launches.

Top lots in the Bonhams Veteran Motor Car Sale were:

• Lot 210 – 1904 Delaugère et Clayette 24hp Four-Cylinder Side-Entrance Tonneau £225,500

• Lot 207 – 1904 Richard-Brasier Four-Cylinder 16hp Side-Entrance Tonneau £223,260

• Lot 214 - 1904 Wilson-Pilcher 12/16hp Four-Cylinder Four-seat Phaeton £203,100

Tim Schofield, Director of the Bonhams UK Motor Car Department, said: “Once again our sale of veteran motor cars was a huge success, with virtually 90 per cent sold realising £1.5 million, and our highest total for this sale to date. This Sale remains the only opportunity for collectors to buy a London-to-Brighton-eligible car on the Friday, and take part in the annual Run on the Sunday.

“We now look ahead to our next sale at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate later this month, and to our traditional pre-Christmas sale at Mercedes-Benz World Brooklands in December.”

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