A Long, Low Lanchester

1915 Lanchester Sporting Forty Torpedo Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | November 4, 2022

Photo – Bonhams

The Lanchester Motor Company was founded by Frederick, George, and Frank Lanchester, a trio of brothers who built their first car in 1895. The company was acquired by BSA in 1930, and it wound up as part of Daimler, which came under the control of Jaguar in 1960. But by that time, the Lanchester marque had been discontinued for five years.

This car is very striking. Early Lanchesters were kind of funky looking, with the driver more or less sitting over the engine, no front hood, and an upright radiator directly in front of the passenger compartment, which was still rearward of the front axle. It was… awkward.

The Sporting Forty was introduced near the end of 1913. It had a more conventional layout, with the engine moved forward in the chassis. Imagine a company bragging about that today. It’s powered by a 5.5-liter inline-six. Just six were built before WWI broke out. In 1919, the “40” was re-introduced, but it was a somewhat different car.

This example was Lanchester’s demonstrator and is the only remaining Sporting Forty. A restoration was completed around 2004. Bonhams has an estimate of $200,000-$245,000 on it. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $256,286.

Lanchester Straight Eight

1932 Lanchester 30HP Straight Eight

Offered by Historics Auctioneers | Ascot, U.K. | May 15, 2021

Photo – Historics Auctioneers

The Lanchester Motor Company was founded in 1899 by the three Lanchester brothers: George, Frederick, and Frank. They sold their first cars in 1901, and the company was acquired by BSA in 1931. The last cars were produced in 1955, and the brand name was acquired by Jaguar in 1960 and has remained with the Jag through its various acquisitions.

The 30HP Straight Eight was designed by George Lanchester and was sold between 1929 and 1932. Power is from a 4.4-liter SOHC inline-eight rated at 30 taxable horsepower. As we all know, 1929 was a poor year to launch a high-end new car (see Duesenberg; also see Lanchester’s subsequent 1931 takeover by BSA).

Only 126 examples of the Straight Eight were built. This one was re-bodied in the 1960s in its current style and is one of the final examples produced. The pre-sale estimate is $97,000-$111,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Update: Sold, Bonhams Beaulieu 2022, $68,761.

Bonhams Mercedes-Benz World Highlights

Bonhams recently held sale at Mercedes-Benz World in Weybridge, Surrey (on the 1st of December, 2011), featured a few interesting sales. Foremost among them was the 1953 Austin-Healey 100S Prototype that was involved in the infamous wreck at the 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car was being driven by Lance Macklin who swerved to avoid a Mike Hawthorn’s Jaguar D-Type that was entering the pits. Pierre Levegh in a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR struck the rear of this Healey and was launched into the crowd, killing 83, including Levegh. The car’s infamy definitely played a part in it reaching a hammer price of $1.3 million – especially as it was sold in “barn find” condition seen here:

Other highlights include the red Maserati Quattroporte we featured a few weeks ago, selling for $80,000, falling right in the middle of the pre-sale estimate. Also sold was this super unusual 1912 Lanchester 38hp Detachable Open Drive Limousine for just over $130,000.

The car was owned by a Maharajah – as it seems more and more early British motorcars are – especially those with outlandish or highly unusual bodywork. The fixed roof over the rear passengers is completely removable on this car. The wheelbase is ridiculous and the whole front of the car looks like it was smashed backwards by about five feet. Unusual indeed.

I’ve decided that we’re going to give special mention to the final lot in every sale, as that lot usually tends to not be the most valuable or unusual car sold. It’s kind of overlooked. Like Mr. Irrelevant (the last pick in the annual NFL draft). For this sale it was a 2001 Aston Martin DB7 Vantage Volante very similar (but not exact) to the one below.

As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the most beautiful cars of all time. It’s an extraordinarily pretty car and this one was dark blue with tan interior and had 63,000 miles on the odometer. It sold for almost $47,000 with buyer’s premium.

For complete results, check Bonhams’ website here.