‘Blue Butterfly’ tops Bonhams London to Brighton auction

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Driver's-eye view in the 1900 M.M.C. 'Charette' Tourer that was second-high sale of the auction | Bonhams photos
‘The Blue Buttefly’

As expected, “Le Papillon Bleu” the 1901 Panhard-Levassor 7hp twin-cylinder four-seater rear-entrance tonneau known in English as The Blue Butterfly, was the top seller at Bonhams annual auction staged in London as competitors ready for the annual Veteran Car Run to Brighton.

“ ‘Le Papillon Bleu’ was the subject of a tense three-way bid between two telephone bidders and a collector in the packed salesroom, with the hammer finally falling in favor of the latter,” Bonhams reported after the car sold for $573,410.

Overall, the auction posted a 95 percent sell-through rate. However, while the “London to Brighton Run sale of veteran motor cars and related automobilia” included a couple hundred lots, only 14 of them were actual motor cars. The rest included various parts you might need to keep such a vehicle operating, such as pair of Bleriot acetylene headlamps (purchased for $2,476) or a patented 1908 Bosch Type D6 magneto (sold for $1,816).

“The Run embodies the true spirit of motoring and it is rewarding to see from this sale’s results that the passion and enthusiasm for pioneer motor cars is as strong as ever,” Tim Schofield, head of Bonhams UK motoring division was quoted in the news release. 

“We are particularly pleased that the Papillon Bleu and the M.M.C. performed so well.

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1899 Star Benz Vis-a-Vis sells for $178,725

“We now look forward to Sunday’s Run, which many of the team are taking part in, and to seeing other Veteran motor cars sold at Bonhams over the years cross the finish line at Madeira Drive in Brighton.”

Top 10 sales, Bonhams London to Brighton 2019

  1. 1901 Panhard-Levassor ‘Le Papillon Bleu,’ $573,410
  2. 1900 M.M.C. 6hp ‘Charette’ rear-entrance tonneau, $290,428
  3. 1899 Star Benz 3 1/2hp Vis-a-Vis, $178,725
  4. 1899 Star 3 1/2 hp single-cylinder Vis-a-Vis, $122,129
  5. 1899 Peugeot 2 1/4 hp tricycle, $89,362
  6. 1904 DeDion Buton Model Y 2-seater, $74,468
  7. 1903 Stevens-Duryea 7hp twin-cylinder Model L Stanhope, $56,596
  8. c.1899 Bruneau Quadrilette, $53,617
  9. 1903 Oldsmobile Model R ‘Curved Dash’ Runabout, $49,149
  10. 1904 Phoenix 4 1/2hp Tricar, $40,213

(Prices reported include buyer’s fee.)

1899 Peugeot tricycle

Bonhams next collector car auction is scheduled for November 21 at the RAF Museum in Hendon, England.

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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.

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