One of the World’s Largest Classic Car Collections Sells for £3 Million
A deceased motoring fan’s collection of classics, including buses, emergency vehicles and delivery wagons, was recently sold at auction – for £3 million. Was this man’s collection one rich enthusiast’s idea of heaven?
A Lifelong Obsession
Collector Michael Banfield, who died last year, began buying classic cars in 1959. A founding member of the Historic Commercial Vehicle Society, he spent over half a century collecting buses, emergency vehicles and cars. Mr Banfield, from Kent, started his collection with a 1927 Bentley, expanding it until it included dozens of vintage vehicles and more than a thousand items of motoring memorabilia, including:
Merryweather Fire Engine
The Merryweather company was founded in the 19th century and is still, to this day, family-owned. Appliances were available in small sizes suitable for a country house, pumping around 1,000 gallons per minute, through to large dockyard models capable of ejecting 2,000 gallons.
1922 AEC S-Type Open Top Double Decker Bus
Built between 1920 and 1927, this particular model went into service on October 2nd 1922 with the Metropolitan Stage Carriage. It plied routes from Nunhead Lane, running from The Plough at Dulwich to Princess Victoria at Uxbridge Road, a journey of over 13 miles. It would have cost just 3.5p to ride it, and its driver would have received £4 p/w.
1915 Peerless TC4 Open Back Lorry
Gaston, Williams and Wigmore were hired by the British Government in 1914 to supply American chassis to be fitted with bodies made in England. Peerless, of Cleveland, Ohio, was a leading supplier. It had started out making mangles before turning to bicycle manufacture. Between 1915 and 1918, the Government purchased 12,000 Peerless truck chassis, importing them via Liverpool.
Piece-Arrow R8 Open Back Lorry
Like its contemporary Peerless, Buffalo, New York’s Piece-Arrow firm had started out manufacturing items – in their case, birdcages and fridges. They began making lorries in June 1911. The R8 is estimated by the Veteran Car Club to be a 1917 model.
1929 Chevrolet LQ International 14-Seater Coach
This vintage coach was manufactured by General Motors at their Hendon factory. Powered by a six-cylinder 2.9-litre petrol engine, with overhead valves and a four-speed gearbox, it was a forerunner of the Bedford commercial vehicle range.
1922 Tilling Stevens Double Decker Bus
The company responsible for this 1922 model was founded by Thomas Tilling in 1847. Starting out as a horse-drawn omnibus service, the company had 4,000 horses by 1897 and is thought to have been the first company to run a regular service over a regular route. They purchased their first electric buses in 1904, and by 1921 had a fleet of 150. The bus in this collection started its working life in Catford, South London in June 1922.
A Special Auction
Upon the death of Mr Banfield, his family organised a special auction at Bonhams in London to find new homes for all of the vehicles in his magnificent collection. Over 99.7% of the lots sold, including a 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost which fetched £418,140, and a trio of buses which made over £500,000. A 1922 AEC S-Type open-top double decker bus sold for a record-breaking £281,500 – over three times its estimate. Combined, the lots made over £3 million.
Malcom Barber, Bonhams co-chairman and auctioneer at the sale, said: “For more than fifty years Michael Banfield dedicated himself to the restoration and preservation of these fantastic vehicles. I’m delighted we were able to celebrate Michael and his collection with the weekend’s event, honouring his life’s passion with his friends, family and automotive enthusiasts.”
£100M Classic Car Collection On Sale