Early French cars dominate docket for Bonhams ‘Brighton’ sale

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1903 Renault Type N-C
1904 Renault Type N-B introduced as Louis Renault reorganized after brother’s death | Bonhams

Bonhams has revealed a docket for its London to Brighton Run Sale of Veteran Motor Cars that is led by a 1904 Renault Type N-B owned by a French family for some 60 years. The sale is scheduled for November 4 in London.

The Type N-B was introduced by Louis Renault as part of the reorganization of the automaker after the death of his brother, Marcel, in 1903. The N-B was one of the first Renaults powered by a four-cylinder engine, a side-valve powerplant displaying slightly more than 3.0 liters.

The car featured Renault’s already traditional “coal scuttle” hood with a rear-mounted radiator.

The car being offered has swing-seat tonneau coachwork that provides seating for four. It was owned from the 1920s into the 1980s by a French family until it was purchased by a member of the Veteran Car Club of the UK. That owner rallied the car extensively in England and on the Continent and is offering the car with a VCC dating certificate and V5 registration document.

Bonhams has set a pre-sale estimated value of £250,000 to £280,000 ($307,000 to $344,000).

1904 Aster is London to Brighton veteran

Another rare French car on the docket is a 1904 Aster 16/20 hp, also a four-cylinder with four-seat tonneau coachwork and a pre-sale estimated value of £230,000 to -£250,000 ($282,500 to $307,000).

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The Aster has competed five times in the London to Brighton run and also completed the Paris-Vienna Rally in 2002, a Australian drive from Brisbane to Sydney in 2005 and the 1,000 Miles Trial re-enactment in 2000. It comes with a V5C registration document and a copy of 1904 Yorkshire registration records.

Even older than the French cars is an 1897 Daimler 4 hp twin-cylinder “Rougemont” wagonette. The car is one of the first British-built Daimlers and cost £370 new. The car retains its original tiller steering, has done London to Brighton several times and has Start No. 4 for the 2016 event. It’s pre-sale estimate is £200,00o to £220,000 ($245,000 to $270,000).

1903 Renault Type N-C

Another car of note is another French-built vehicle, a 1903 Renault Type N-C two-cylinder 10 horsepower Wagonette that was discovered in Kent, UK, in 1969 at the Canterbury scrapyard.

George Dorrington, a Veteran Car Club member and founding member of the Renault Freres Club, found a nearly complete vehicle, from chassis to radiator — dated water reservoir tank marked ‘4/3’ (for April 1903), bonnet, steering column, etc. all in a dismantled state. However, its original engine and bodywork were gone. Dorrington spent two decades rebuilding the car with period-correct parts and the car has been a London to Brighton regular ever since.

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Pre-sale estimated value is £110,000 to £130,000 ($135,000 to $160,000).

“This year we are able to offer some real rarities from the dawn of motoring presented in wonderful condition,” Bonhams senior car specialist Rob Hubbard said in a news release. “Our top lots have proved their worth in many Veteran Car rallies all over the world and I expect a lot of interest from collectors keen to acquire a piece of motoring history.

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.