HomeThe MarketMassive road locomotive tops Bonhams ‘Golden Age’ auction

Massive road locomotive tops Bonhams ‘Golden Age’ auction

Top bidder calls 1932 Fowler B6 Super Lion a ‘late birthday present’ to himself


Bonhams’ “The Golden Age of Motoring Sale” is a London to Brighton Veteran Car Run tradition, and while the coronavirus pandemic canceled the historic drive to the British Channel this year, the sale took place at the auction house’s New Bond Street headquarters.

As usual featuring early era vehicles, the sale was dominated in more ways than one by “The Lion,” a 1932 Fowler 10hp B6 Super Lion, a massive “road locomotive” that sold for $1,181,367 after what Bonhams termed “a lively bidding battle between bidders in the UK and USA.”

The cockpit

The massive steam-powered vehicle was purchased by the Saunders Steam Collection of Bedfordshire, England, with John Saunders called the vehicle a “late birthday present” to himself. He said he hopes to display The Lion at fairs and shows in 2021.

“Just one of four ‘Super Lion’ showman’s road locomotives, the 1932 Fowler 10hp ‘B6’ known as ‘The Lion’ was originally built by agricultural engineers Fowler for the Bristol-based Showman Troupe Alderton and Rowland,” Bonhams noted. 

“In its working life The Lion powered popular fairground rides of the period, such as the ‘Noah’s Ark.’ The Lion had had only two other previous owners, both based in the West Country, with Arthur Thomson buying the machine in 1995 when he oversaw its complete restoration over two and a half years to its former glory. In his ownership, The Lion made frequent appearances at steam rallies and other events including the Great Dorset Steam Fair and the Royal Bath & West Show.”

The big vehicle was one of three consigned to the sale from the collection of the late Arthur Thomson. The others were a 1902 Arrol-Johnston 10/12hp Twin-Cylinder Six-Seater Dogcart that sold for $125,269 and a 1910 White Model 0-0 Five-Passenger Touring Steam Car that sold for $104,390.

1929 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport

Among other highlights of the sale were:

  • A 1901 Panhard-Levassor Type A2 7HP Twin-Cylinder Rear-Entrance Tonneau that had been part of the Schlumpf Collection and later residing at the Mercedes-Benz Museum. The historic vehicle sold to a German bidder for $417,563.
  • A 1924 Vauxhall 30-98 OE Velox Tourer, coming out of 52 years of ownership and selling for $335,542.
  • A 1903 Thornycroft 20hp Four-Cylinder Double Phaeton, one of the few survivors of the marque and a veteran of many London to Brighton events. It sold for $395,193.
1903 Thornycroft

Top-10 sales, Bonhams Golden Age of Motoring 2020

  1. 1932 Fowler road locomotive, $1,181,367
  2. 1901 Panhard et Levassor Type A2, $417,563
  3. 1929 Bugatti Type 40 Grand Sport tourer, $402,650
  4. 1903 Thornycroft double phaeton, $395,193
  5. 1924 Vauxhall Velox, $335,542
  6. 1938 Lagonda V12 drophead coupe, $171,499
  7. 1922 Delage Tourer, $126,760
  8. 1902 Amoi-Johnston dogcart, $125,269
  9. 1920/21 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, $117,812
  10. 1932 Alta Supercharged Sports, $117,812

(Prices include buyer’s fee.)

1902 Arrol-Johnson ‘dogcart’

Bonhams next motor car auction is The Bond Street Sale scheduled for December 5 in London.

For more information, visit the Bonhams website.

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
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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