One of the world’s most prestigious auction houses is moving into the future- and modern-classic market, as Bond Street’s Bonhams has launched a new sub brand, MPH.
The branch has become the latest company to call Bicester Heritage home, where it will also host four auctions each year. The first will take place on Thursday, 26 September, followed by a second on 26 November.
“We want to make these sales different from what you see in a ‘standard’ Bonhams auction and a ‘standard’ collectors’ car auction,” Rob Hubbard, who moves from Bond Street to head up the Bicester operation, said at MPH’s launch.
“The types of cars we’ll be offering will be those that we couldn’t necessarily fit into a Bonhams auction, so the more modern ’80s/’90s BMWs, the hot-hatch Renaults, the Peugeot 205 GTIs – all those cars that have been gathering momentum and are becoming collectors’ pieces. We want to be able to offer those in addition to the more modern part-exchanges we might get from places such as HR Owen Group.
“We will be offering anything sub-£50,000, that will be our ideal price point but that’s nothing that’s set in stone. We’ll have the ability to offer anything and everything and add the Bonhams core values and advertising to that.”
Each sale will be more visual, too, taking place on-site at Bicester in Hangar 113.
“One of the ideas is a drive-through of every sale to be able to see, hear, smell and look at the car actually moving and working,” continued Hubbard. “As collectors, we all like to physically hold on to something.”
The company will streamline the process of consigning cars, in a move to attract a new type of seller. An online upload tool will allow cars to be submitted quickly, including photos and car condition, and Bonhams will hold sessions at its Bicester base for professional photography and valuations. That will also give the auctioneer a semblance of quality control.
Three consignment packages will be available, Bronze, Silver and Gold ranging from £125 to £300. A reduced-fee structure will also be in place, 5% for seller and 12.5% for buyers, made possible by that new approach according to James Knight, Bonhams’ executive director and motoring group chairman.
"Digital efficiencies and that it is being held on site means the efficiencies can be passed on to sellers,” he explained.
“I really do regard Bonhams MPH as one of the most important strategic moves that the Bonhams Motoring Department has come up with and I am delighted that Rob will head up the business and delighted that we’re here at Bicester.”
The move also signals the end of Bicester’s two-year relationship with auction house Brightwells, Bicester Motion chief executive Dan Geoghegan confirmed, adding: “We’re very pleased to welcome Bonhams, our 41st specialist and very much the gold standard of our aspirations. When we arrived at the derelict Bicester six years ago we faced a challenge to try and create a model for the future of the historic industry and revolutionise classic car ownership.
"We set our stall out clearly at the time to create a centre of excellence. We’re thrilled that the team are here with their sense of entrepreneurialism and sense of drive really matches our own values and focus. We’re focused on the customer and the enthusiasts, and giving them the best possible experience.”