City Auction Group ran their first classic car auction yesterday at the famous Rockingham Motor Speedway and I personally couldn’t think of a more perfect setting for this collection of vintage cars to go under the hammer.
For those that haven’t been to Rockingham or don’t know much about it, it’s Europe’s fastest motor racing circuit and one the UK’s biggest and most famous. It is regularly used for the British Touring Car Championships as well as playing host to a range of exciting track days and driving experiences.
The day of the auction was no different. The sound of screeching tyres, clinging on at the edge of their limit filled the air and there was a buzz about the paddocks where the auction was held, putting us right in the centre of the action.
The auction itself was an intimate affair with only a handful of people attending to put in their bids. But there were plenty of car enthusiasts to add to the atmosphere: they were there for the day’s supercar driving experience, all taking a walk around the cars and enjoying the display of classic motoring history. Who can blame them? It’s not every day you get to see a ‘82 Ferrari 308 GTS-i sandwiched between a ‘91 Ferrari 348ts and a ’87 Ferrari 328 GTS all with matching gleaming red paintwork!
The first car that caught my eye was the ‘69 Jaguar F-type. No classic car auction is complete without an F-Type! Sat in the sun, the original bronze paint and matching cinnamon trim looked incredible.
Pre-auction the car was estimated to fetch between £38,000 and £45,000. On the day it was actually snapped up by one lucky bidder for £35,000. Going to prove that you can grab a real bargain at the right auction.
Another car that really grabbed my attention was the ’04 BMW Z4. (Hold on, a 2004 BMW Z4 at a classic car auction I hear you cry!) This one is now technically not a Z4 anymore and has taken on a new form as an Alpina Roadster S. An instant classic the day it rolled out the Alpina showroom!
While BMW has its own motorsports division, known to most car enthusiasts as the ‘M Sport’ division, not many will know about the Alpina brand, never mind knowing much about the Alpina Roadster S given how rare it is!
To give you a brief history, Alpina was started by a gentleman called Burkard Bovensiepen, working out of a garage at the back of his father’s typewriter factory. Initially a small outfit that specialised in tuning privately owned BMWs way back in the early 60’s. It soon grew much larger, striking a deal with BMW to tune cars from their factory before sale. By the late 60’s the typewriters were no more and the Alpina factory was born!
The Alpina Roadster S was the last Alpina car to be built in the original Buchloe factory before it relocated to BMW’s much larger Munich line. With 300bhp, 267lb ft of torque from its straight six engine, six speed gearbox, suspension and geometry upgrades and a subtle body kit, it made for a very worthwhile upgrade from the standard Z4s on offer at the time.
This particular example was estimated to fetch between £14,000 and £18,000 on the day but, unfortunately, it didn’t sell.
I’d personally put this down to the Alpina finding itself in a rather awkward segment of the market. With not many people knowing too much about them and BMW putting out their own, more well-known ‘M’ version of the car, the BMW Z4 M (that produced more power than the Alpina with 338bhp and 269lb ft of torque) it can easily be over looked. It’s the sort of car that attracts a very particular sort of car enthusiast as to most potential buyers the Alpina, on paper at least, could easily find itself being seen as more of a warm Z4, rather than the hot roadster it is.
With over 60 cars all up for sale on the day, it would have been easy to spend my time looking around cars like the Maserati Merak or previously mentioned collection of Ferraris, but that would just be too obvious.
Instead I found myself drawn to the 1999 Mercedes-Benz C 43 AMG. I have a real eclectic taste when it comes to cars, and I have always been a big fan of a good Q-Car, or Sleeper as they are known.
There is little better than being able to travel at speed without being noticed by your fellow motorist on the road! And Mercedes-Benz has made some of the best cars in which to do this over the years. The C43 AMG is a prime example, just look how unassuming it is!
To all intents and purposes, it’s just an old C class with a nice set of wheels and a sporty trim level. Probably good for nothing more than chomping up motorway miles in comfort. Oh how wrong you’d be. Under the bonnet is a 306bhp, 302lb ft of torque 4.3-litre V8 that rivalled the BMW M3 of the same generation. It can accelerate from a standstill to 60 mph in just shy of 6 aurally beautiful seconds! Hearing the M113 V8 engine fire into life made me love it even more.
It’s more than just an engine as well. AMG fettled the suspension, swapping the shocks and springs for a set of lower and stiffer options and then fitted a set of wider wheels and tyres. They then upgraded the brakes to help control all that extra power.
Checking on howmanyleft.co.uk shows me that only 188 are left on the road with a further 103 SORN. To put that into context there were 4,200 of these cars sold to the UK market! The missing 3,900 odd cars have probably succumbed to rust like many Mercs (and other manufactures for that matter!) built in the late 90s.
This particular example was in superb condition, with a Full Service History and only 83,000 miles on the clock, it was estimated to go for anywhere between £12,000 and £18,000. Top money for a car that back in 2014 you could pick up for between £2,000 and £8,000 depending on condition and mileage! Now you’ll be hard pushed to find one for less than £10,000 that doesn’t need a fair bit of work!
If you want to get in on the Action, Silverstone Auctions will be hosting their Classic Race Car Sale on Thursday the 27th of July and the Silverstone Classic Sale on Saturday and Sunday the 29th and 30th of July as part of the Silverstone Classic Weekend.