Silverstone Auctions’ final sale of the year takes place at the NEC Classic Motor Show this weekend, and it’s a veritable feast of desirable vehicles.
A total of 125 cars are up for grabs, from 1927 Oldsmobile and Lagonda to 2016 McLaren 675LT, and such are the riches on offer that our shortlist could easily have been 50-strong.
That might be overkill, though, so we’ve limited ourselves to the 15 classics we’d buy if we had the money.
And while that means having to leave out such goodies as the 1960 Maserati 3500GT, 1966 Aston Martin DB6 and 1987 Ford Capri 280 Brooklands, it also means that everything we’ve included is absolutely top-notch. Read on for proof of that…
1. 1979 Maserati Merak 2000GT
Guide price: £25-£35,000
A truly practical supercar, the Maserati Merak is something of an undervalued ’70s classic.
It was loosely based on the superb Bora and like its big sister owes its distinctive lines to the pen of Giorgetto Giuiaro. Unlike the V8 Bora, though, it had a smaller V6 engine but more space inside, with room for two small humans in the back.
The 2000GT arrived in 1977. Launched at the Turin Auto Show, it was an Italian-only variant with a smaller two-litre powerplant designed to avoid the country’s newly strict engine regulations.
This 1979 example was first registered in Modena and remained there, in the same family, for 38 years, passing through father and son in that time. Although not in concours condition, it is described as “very original and overall corrosion free” and is said to run well. All of which makes its £25-35,000 estimate something of a bargain.
2. 1984 Rolls-Royce Corniche Convertible
Guide price: £105-125,000
One hundred grand might seem a tad steep for a Corniche, fine car though it is, but then this is no ordinary model.
Why? Well it was owned by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Mr Frank Sinatra. And as if that’s not enough, it was bought for the legendary singer by his Rat Pack buddies Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr as a present for his 70th birthday. Oh, and after owning it for five years, Sinatra in 1990 gave it to his longtime assistant Ingemar Fredriksson, to mark 10 years of service.
It’s got quite the story behind it, then, but what of the car itself? Well, it underwent an extensive restoration totalling £47,000 between 2015 and 2017, and looks in superb shape as it goes to auction. Yes, it’s pricey – but as both a fine example of musical memorabilia and a top-notch Rolls-Royce Convertible, it’s got to be worth it.
3. 1985 Porsche 911 (930) turbo SE ‘Flatnose’
Guide price: £155-175,000
There are plenty of special Porsche 911s, but even in that company the 930 turbo stands out. Arriving in 1974, it was a massive hit and remained in production right the way through to 1989, its turbocharged 3.3-litre engine delivering supercar-bothering top speeds and incredible acceleration.
For some customers, though, that wasn’t enough – and those demanding types could instead order a Flatnose variant.
In place of that distinctive 911 front end, the Flatnose instead sported a ‘Flachbau’, or ‘Low Build’, look as previously seen on the Le Mans-conquering 935 racer. It was a bespoke, hand-built machine initially offered only as a Kremer conversion, then by special order – and it cost twice as much as the conventional model.
Porsche finally decided to offer it as an official option in 1986, and the car for sale with Silverstone Auctions is the first of 50 right-hand drive factory models. It was used as the Porsche GB press car for months – which means it featured in several august publications at the time (and was probably used as the basis of many an inflated expenses claim).
With a mere 34,241 miles on the clock and finished in its original Silver Metallic, it goes to auction in superb condition. What’s more, it’s been kitted out with a raft of options, including the rare Recaro Ideal ‘C’ seats, special-order Can-Can Red leather interior, a full engine conversion with 330bhp, and a modified front spoiler and oil cooler.
4. 1975 Jensen GT
Guide price: £18-22,000
Now you don’t see many of these any more…
The GT was the seemingly more sensible follow-up to the sporty Jensen-Healey convertible, arriving in 1975 with a shooting brake-style rear end and seating for four. It still had that nippy Lotus 907 engine inside it, though: a two-litre unit which made 140hp at 6500rpm and pushed the GT to 60mph in less than 10 seconds.
It handled nicely, too, and really should have been a success – but it arrived at almost exactly the wrong time. Jensen was not long for the world, and when the factory closed its doors for the last time in May 1976, the GT died with it. Just 509 were built, of which a mere 230 were UK-supplied RHD models.
This is one of them, and what’s more it’s one of only four produced in a rather fetching shade called Jensen Silver Grey. Dry-stored for years, it’s also been the subject of a full ground-up restoration including a bare-metal respray, an engine overhaul and a new braking system. If you want a car you’ll be unlikely to see elsewhere on the road, this is a good place to start.
5. 1945 Willy’s Jeep
Guide price: £80-100,000
Hollywood icon Steve McQueen owned many cars over the course of his life, including such spectacularly desirable motors as a Jaguar XKSS, Porsche 908 and Ferrari 250GT. But, let’s face it, none of them will be for sale any time soon – and even if they were, you wouldn’t be able to afford them.
You might, however, be able to afford this Willy’s Jeep. It’s not exactly cheap, but for the best part of £100k you’d be getting a tough, reliable vehicle that saw time in WW2 and was then owned by The King of Cool. And that’s hardly to be sneered at.
Bought by McQueen relatively late in his life, it was in his collection when he passed away in November 1980 and was sold four years later at an auction of the star’s estate in Las Vegas. It’s been well looked after since, so if you dream of owning a McQueen machine this could be as good a chance as any.
6. 1993 Ford Escort RS Cosworth
Guide price: £50-60,000
Fast Fords are so valuable right now that we should probably forget about gold being the ultimate crisis-proof commodity and start hoarding Escorts and Sierras instead – but not before reading the Cossie-tastic cover feature in our latest issue!
This Escort RS Cosworth certainly looks smart enough to continue that trend. A 1993 ‘big turbo’ model, it’s one of the first 2500 homologation cars produced by Ford and is well known to enthusiasts, having starred on the front of several magazines and having been shown at concours events across the UK.
It goes to auction with a mere 28,000 miles behind it and with multiple concours wins under its belt, and is in stunning condition, right down to the period-correct Pirelli tyres and genuine one-piece exhaust system.
7. 1973 Ferrari Dino 246GTS
Guide price: £280-320,000
Designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti, the Dino 246GTS is unquestionably one of the most beautiful cars ever crafted. But it’s more than just a pretty face, its compact, 2.4-litre V6 delivering 190hp and simply demanding that it be driven fast, and often.
The model on auction is a UK-supplied right-hand-drive example, finished in Argento Auteuil with a black interior. Owned at one time by Queen’s sound engineer, the band reportedly penned the song I’m in Love with My Car about him and his attachment to his Dino.
It’s been through several owners over the years, but has been treated to plenty of restoration work and is in pristine running order as it heads to the Classic Motor Show at the NEC Birmingham.
8. 1958 Volkswagen Beetle
Guide price: N/A
If you’ve got a burning desire to splash a bit of cash at the Silverstone Auctions sale, why not do a bit for charity and bid on this Beetle?
A 1958 example, it was restored to its full glory in 2014 by Ant Anstead as part of his Channel 4 series For The Love Of Cars. Auctioned in January 2015 at the end of the show’s second season, it was bought by Asif Ansari, who said it reminded him of a photograph of his late brother Abid sitting on the family’s yellow Beetle.
Abid sadly passed away due to a brain tumour in 2003, and his brother has now given the car to Silverstone Auctions so it can be re-sold at this sale, with the proceeds going to the Brain Tumour Research Centre in Birmingham.
9. 1989 BMW E30 M3
Guide price: £70-85,000
Regardless of whether you consider this E30 M3’s celebrity connection to be a good thing – and we’re saying nothing on that front – it’s undoubtedly a fine car in its own right.
Owned by Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay for a decade, it’s been impeccably maintained and records fewer than 18,000 miles from new. A limited-edition Johnny Cecotto version – in honour of the eponymous driver’s victory in the 1988 European Touring Car Championship – it enjoys various upgrades over the standard model, including a boost to 215bhp, factory Evo II spoilers and thinner glass.
With just 505 examples having been built, and with the pop-star connection as a further bonus if that floats your boat, it’s likely to be snapped up at the Classic Motor Show sale.
Don’t fancy this one? Jay Kay’s got six other cars crossing the block at the auction.
10. 1974 Jaguar E-type Series 3
Guide price: £85-100,000
Alright, let’s get this out of the way straight away: this E-type was once owned by Noel Edmonds.
Setting that aside, it’s undoubtedly an excellent example of the sometimes unfairly maligned S3 E-type. Owned by Edmonds – who, let’s not forget, inflicted Mr Blobby on the world – between 1998 and 2001, it’s been with the current owner since 2008 and underwent a full bare-metal respray in 2015.
It’s also enjoyed several small upgrades, including the fitting of an engine pre-heating system and an interior re-trim, and today shows fewer than 32,000 miles.
11. 1983 Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus Sll
Guide price: £50-60,000
This one’s an absolute beauty: quite possibly one of the finest Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus cars in the world, and a hot hatch par excellence.
But first, some history. The original Sunbeam was developed by Chrysler and was based on the Hillman Avenger. It was well received on its arrival in 1977 and sold decently, and the US manufacturer decided to use it as the basis of a rally car to take on the dominant Ford Escort RS in Group 4.
Lotus was approached, and so the Sunbeam-Lotus was duly born. To further complicate matters, when the PSA group took over Chrysler Europe in 1978 the Chrysler badge was dropped and it instead became the Talbot Sunbeam-Lotus – and later gained that ‘T’ on the front grille. Still with us?
Whatever it was called, it was a hit on the rally stages, its combination of rear-wheel drive and Lotus’ two-litre engine taking it to the 1981 World Rally Championship title after five second places and one victory.
Remarkably, the example on offer was bought by the current vendor in 1988 with around 7000 miles on the clock and has added less than another 1000 in the 30 years since. It’s unsurprisingly in superb condition and while not cheap, it’ll still probably set you back less than the equivalent Fast Ford.
12. 1936 Ford Model 48
Guide price: £45-50,000
A vision of another era, this pre-war Ford is notable as much for what it’s not as for what it is.
The Model 48 is a favourite among hot-rodders, so despite the fact that millions were made – 820,000 in 1935 alone – few remain in virtually untouched condition.
Thankfully, the 1936 example on auction has survived just fine. It’s had only four owners throughout its 82-year lifespan, and has enjoyed an incredible competition record, having placed first in car shows 128 times, with 24 Best in Show titles among them.
Presented in Ford Black with a Pistachio Green coach-line and detailing, it has a smooth-running V8 and is surely destined for many more awards.
13. 1973 Ferrari 365GTB/4 ‘Daytona’ Spider conversion
Guide price: £450-550,000
Not a genuine Spider or you’d be able to add another zero to that estimate, but a genuine Daytona nonetheless – and that alone makes it worthy of inclusion in this list (and worthy of any car lover’s lust).
Another Pininfarina-designed, Scaglietti-built Prancing Horse, the Daytona arrived in 1968 as the successor to the similarly gorgeous 275GTB and set about writing its own chapter in Ferrari history.
Only 1406 were produced and of those a mere 122 were Spiders, designated 365GTS/4. Understandably, those limited numbers resulted in plenty of frustrated Spider-fans, and to help satisfy demand a number of coupés have been converted to open-top spec over the years.
Delivered new to the UK in 1973, this one is thought to have been modified in 1987. What is clear is that the work included additional strengthening and support as per the original Spiders. Comprehensively restored in the past two years, it now wears its original Verde Pino Metallic colour and has been fitted with power steering, among other changes.
So no, it’s not a genuine Daytona Spider – but if money were no object it’d still be the one you wanted from this list, right?
14. 1979 Aston Martin V8
Guide price: £95-110,000
Launched in 1978, the so-called V8 Oscar India – popularly for ‘October Introduction’, although some say it merely refers to the model’s codename – was the fourth generation of the Aston Martin V8, and for many the best.
For one, it was sumptuously kitted out inside, with luxurious leather seats and premium walnut dash and door trims. On the bonnet, the open scoop was closed off but underneath the Tadek Marek-designed 5.3-litre V8 was still present and correct.
Only 293 were made, and this is one of them: an impeccably maintained, matching numbers, UK-supplied example with 24,150 miles on the clock.
Originally finished in Blenheim Silver, it now wears a rather fetching Windsor Blue, and has been treated to several other subtle upgrades over the years, including twin Vantage exhausts and a new air conditioning unit; in total, it’s had at least £40,000 spent on it since 2002.
It’s said to be “in a very good driver’s condition”, with only a few very minor blemishes on the bodywork, and looks likely to be in demand this weekend.
15. 1960 Facel Vega HK500
Guide price: £130-150,000
If you’ve got your heart set on a combination of European beauty and American power, look no further than the Facel Vega HK500.
The Vega’s third generation arrived in 1959 packing a 5.8-litre Chrysler V8 that was soon further upgraded to a 6.2-litre version. That engine is a monstrous thing, capable of pumping out more than 390bhp at 5000rpm and a top speed of 147mph – yet it was allied to a graceful, if large, body designed by British racer Lance Macklin.
With only around 500 built, all HK500s are rare things. This example is an early right-hand-drive model with a manual gearbox, finished in white with a red-leather interior. The odometer shows just over 35,000 miles and is thought to be accurate, and the vehicle has clearly been lovingly cared for over the years.
Silverstone Auctions’ sale takes place at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, with Discovery, at the NEC Birmingham on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 November.