Motoring – Uniting Passionate Collectors

A pre-war Dinky Toys No. 44 AA hut, motorcycle patrol and guides, with original diorama box

Last week I celebrated motorsport at Goodwood and it is often a passion for motoring which unites collectors and their specialist areas of interest.
The pre-war Dinky Toys No. 44 AA hut, motorcycle patrol and guides, boxed with diorama, sold at Toovey’s for £220. It’s a scene which would not have look out of place at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Frank Hornby found that accessories for his pre-war O gauge model railways were in great demand. By 1935 these accessories were called Dinky Toys. The earliest vehicles were inspired by the motorcycles and cars of the period rather than the accurate models they would become later.

A photographic postcard titled ‘Nutbourne’ published by Walter Drewett, from the early 1900s

Postcards are also a booming collectors’ market. The postcard seen here made £170. It depicts an earlier period of motoring outside the garage at Nutbourne in West Sussex opposite the Rising Sun pub. Two young children pretend to be driving the Model T Ford with the postman in the foreground. The postcard was published in the early 1900s by Walter James Drewett.

Drewett was born at Steyning in 1869. He specialised in photographing landscapes and outdoor events including parades and garden parties. He also photographed individuals outside their homes and places of work. Drewett began his postcard publishing career in Steyning in 1903 but by 1904 he had opened a newsagent shop in Storrington on the east side of Church Street.

A collection of pre-war enamel motoring signs

Enamel signs are another field of collecting which are enjoying a renaissance and not least motoring examples. The four signs illustrated are reminiscent of those you can just see on the front of the garage at Nutbourne. The Morris Authorised Dealer two sided enamel sign, like so many of the enamel motoring signs, dates from the 1920s or 1930s and was made for Morris dealers to display. The Shell and Castrol signs are particularly rare and fine. These four signs totalled more than £4000 at Toovey’s.

Motoring related collectors’ items and automobilia have such appeal. They connect the motor car enthusiast with the vehicles themselves. Very few of us have the space or the funds to acquire the cars but by comparison toys, postcards and automobilia can be collected on a much more modest budget. These pieces of motoring history are great value and delight the eye.

Entries are already being invited for Toovey’s first 2020 specialist auctions of toys, automobilia, postcards and paper collectables. Whether you are releasing or building your collections Toovey’s specialists are always delighted to share their passion for motoring related collectors’ items and automobilia and offer advice. To find out more check out forthcoming auctions at www.tooveys.com.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

British Motor Racing in Sussex

Automobilia specialist Gordon Gardiner with an array of motoring collectables at Toovey’s
Automobilia specialist Gordon Gardiner with an array of motoring collectables at Toovey’s

With Lewis Hamilton’s heroic drive in the British Grand Prix alive in our imaginations I am looking forward to this coming weekend’s 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Lewis Hamilton made a less than perfect start from his pole position at Silverstone but it was Ferrari driver Raikkonen’s collision with the Briton’s Mercedes at Turn 3 which sent him spinning from the track. Hamilton’s drive from the back of the field to take second place will surely go down in Formula 1 history as one of the great drives.

I am in the company of Toovey’s Automobilia specialist and motoring enthusiast, Gordon Gardiner as I remark how the atmosphere at Goodwood Festival of Speed captures something of the an endurance road race from the 1950s as spectators line the course at close quarters and the cars speed up the climb.

Our conversation turns to a watercolour by Michael Wright. It depicts Mike Hawthorn flat out at the wheel of his Scuderia Ferrari 250 TR 58 which he drove with Wolfgang von Trips in the 1958 Targa Fiorio. In 1958 it formed the third round of the World Sportscar Championship. The car is being driven at great speed along the Sicilian roads which formed the 45 mile circuit of the Targa Fiorio where Hawthorn finished in third place.

Michael Wright’s late 20th century watercolour depicting Mike Hawthorn in his Ferrari, no. 102 titled '1958 Targa Florio'
Michael Wright’s late 20th century watercolour depicting Mike Hawthorn in his Ferrari, no. 102 titled ‘1958 Targa Florio’

The Targo Fiorio was an open road endurance race for automobiles held in the mountains of Sicily near Palermo which was started in 1906 by Vincenzo Florio.
Mike Hawthorn was noted for his speed and it was in 1958 that he became the first Englishman to win a Formula 1 World Championship.

I love objects and art which connect us with the past like this painting. Gordon comments “Automobilia connects the motor car enthusiast with motoring history and the vehicles themselves. Very few of us have the space or the funds to acquire the cars but by comparison Automobilia can be collected on a much more modest budget.”

Toovey’s next auction of Automobilia will be held on Friday 2nd November 2018 and entries are already being received. If you would like advice on collecting Automobilia you can contact Gordon Gardiner by telephoning 01903 891955 or emailing auctions@tooveys.com.

Gordon and I are looking forward to the 2018 Silver Jubilee Goodwood Festival of Speed celebrating the 25th anniversary of this remarkable motoring spectacle. No doubt motor racing enthusiasts will be out in force enjoying the spectacle and drama of this annual Sussex event in the company of the Duke of Richmond and the Goodwood team. To find out more visit www.goodwood.com.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

Racing Driver’s Collection of Automobilia

John Young racing in the 1955 Goodwood Nine Hour Endurance Race in his Lotus-Connaught
John Young racing in the 1955 Goodwood Nine Hour Endurance Race in his Lotus-Connaught

A remarkable collection of automobilia from the Sussex based 1950s motor racing driver, the late John Young, is to be sold at Toovey’s Washington salerooms on Friday 23rd February 2018.

John Young was a gentleman motor racer and enthusiast. He joined the R.A.F when he left Dulwich College. He once told me “I wanted to fly a Spitfire but there were too many pilots just after the war for me to get a look in, so I left and joined the family firm, Rose and Young. We were agents for Mercedes-Benz.”

1955 was an important year for British motor sport, especially in endurance sports car racing.

In August 1955 John Young raced in the Goodwood Nine Hours Endurance Race here in Sussex driving a Lotus-Connaught. His co-driver was John Coombs. John explained to me “We were going well in the Connaught and racing into the evening until Coombs came in saying his hands were cold and borrowed my gloves. Shortly after that he turned it over but, thank God, he was alright!” The story was a timely reminder of how dangerous motor racing was in the 1950s.

Earlier in 1955 as April turned to May Stirling Moss famously won the Mille Miglia with his navigator Denis Jenkinson. They finished thirty-two minutes ahead of second place Juan Manuel Fangio. Both men were driving a Mercedes 300SLR. Commenting on his own 300SL Gullwing Mercedes John Young told me “When you drive a 300SL quickly it’s important to keep the power on in the corners or they spin – you’ve really got to drive it! Moss was the master…the best driver of these; he was very good.”

At the Le Mans twenty-four hours race in June 1955 Mike Hawthorn won in a works Jaguar D-type. In the early stages of the race Hawthorn raced closely with Fangio who was co-driving a Mercedes 300SLR with Stirling Moss. But the tragedy of the accident which resulted in a Mercedes disintegrating and killing some eighty spectators would overshadow Hawthorn’s victory. Hawthorn was devastated.

A fine ⅛ scale hand-finished model of Mike Hawthorn's 1955 Jaguar D-type Le Mans winner
A fine ⅛ scale hand-finished model of Mike Hawthorn’s 1955 Jaguar D-type Le Mans winner

The beautifully crafted and poignant ⅛ scale hand-finished model of Mike Hawthorn’s 1955 Jaguar D-type Le Mans winner is just one of the lots of automobilia entered from John Young’s collection and carries a pre-sale auction estimate of £600-£900.

An oil painting by Roy Nockolds of an Aston Martin DBR1/300 with a presentation plaque to Roy Salvadori from Aston Martin owner David Brown
An oil painting by Roy Nockolds of an Aston Martin DBR1/300 with a presentation plaque to Roy Salvadori from Aston Martin owner David Brown

John Young’s great friend, Roy Salvadori, would deliver victory at Le Mans for Aston Martin in a DBR1/300 sports car in 1959. The evocative oil painting by Roy Nockolds of a DBR1/300 has a presentation plaque to Roy Salvadori from Aston Martin owner, David Brown, dated December 16th 1957. It is estimated at £800-£1200.

John Young’s delight in sharing a story and his enthusiasm were balanced by his self-effacing modesty. A generous man, he epitomised the best of his era: a gentleman racer, a collector and an enthusiast with a deep love of life, cars and the Sussex countryside. His collection of automobilia will be sold at Toovey’s on Friday 23rd February 2018. For more information visit www.tooveys.com.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

A Lifetime of Collecting Reflected in Automobilia

Toovey’s specialist Gordon Gardiner with an array of Automobilia from the forthcoming auction

Toovey’s are holding a specialist auction of Automobilia which will include pieces from the late Alistair Morris’ collection.

Alistair Morris grew up in Horsham. His career in the auction world began at King & Chasemore in 1978. The salerooms merged with Sotheby’s the following year and Alistair would eventually become managing director of Sotheby’s Sussex. An avid collector from his childhood, he built up the collectors’ department at Sotheby’s. His celebrated book Antiques from the Garden was published in 1996.

Specialist, enthusiast and collector, Alistair Morris

His great friend Gordon Gardiner comments “Alistair and myself wrote numerous Antique Collectors’ Club books together whilst working at Sotheby’s, it was great fun. After the success of our book on Toys I suggested we do one on Automobilia. I have always liked motor cars and all that goes with them. I had an interest from childhood when we had a family garage. I introduced Alistair to Automobilia at Beaulieu and he quickly became an enthusiast.”

The motor industry has always employed the best designers, engineers and manufacturing techniques and this is apparent in the function and aesthetic charm of these objects

I ask Gordon why Automobilia has such appeal to collectors. He responds “Automobilia connects the motor car enthusiast with the vehicles themselves. Very few of us have the space or the funds to acquire the cars but by comparison Automobilia can be collected on a much more modest budget.” I agree, these pieces of motoring history are great value and have long delighted my eye.

Gathered around Gordon in the Toovey’s offices you can see an array of Automobilia entered for auction from the collection of Alistair Morris and others. Many of the pieces are illustrated in their Automobilia book which has become a collectors’ item in its own right.

The large brass lamp is amongst the earliest pieces entered from Alistair’s collection. This fine acetylene headlamp is by Powell & Hanmer and dates from c. 1904-1914. Alistair once explained to me that these lamps were stirrup mounted to the car and detachable for ease of cleaning. The bull’s-eye condenser lens would have magnified the beam.

A Morris Motor Cars Distributor’s enamel sign from the collection of the late Alistair Morris

The Morris Distributor double sided enamel sign was a great favourite of Alistair’s because of the name. I remember his delight when he acquired it at Toovey’s. Like so many of the enamel motoring signs it dates from the 1920s and 1930s. It was made for Morris dealers to display in their showrooms.

I am looking forward to celebrating Alistair Morris’ life-long passion for collectors’ items at the sale. He worked tirelessly for our profession and I, like so many in the collectors’ world, was grateful for his encouragement, advice and friendship over many years.

Toovey’s specialist sale of Automobilia, including the Alistair Morris collection, will be auctioned on Friday 14th July 2017. With estimates ranging from £80 to £500 there is something to delight the motoring enthusiast whatever their budget. For more information go to www.tooveys.com or to reserve a catalogue telephone 01903 891955.

By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.

The Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, the World’s First True Supercar

The iconic gull-wing doors which give their name to the car

As the September dew begins to settle around the Goodwood motor racing circuit, the evocative sound of racing engines and smell of Castrol oil from the 2015 Goodwood Revival are fading to memories. I am visiting my great friend John Young, the renowned racing driver, who has invited me to come and see his rare 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, one of the most iconic cars of the post-war era.

As we walk down the drive together in conversation, the Gullwing comes into view and its lines still have the power to excite. The silver beauty before us is particularly special, an example of the world’s first true supercar and in wonderful, original condition. John Young explains, “I bought the car in 1973 from Dennis de Ferranti, who’d had it from new. His father was a brilliant engineer who set up the electronics company Ferranti.” John, the former managing director of the Mercedes-Benz agents Rose and Young, has a particular affinity for the marque. His father, George, founded the firm with his friend Jack Rose. George Young bought out his partner in 1937. “Mercedes were amongst the best cars and selling well,” says John, “so a dealer franchise was hard to get, but we were one of the first in the country.”

The beautiful lines of the Gullwing
The Gullwing’s interior

Contemporary motoring correspondents in the 1950s were fulsome in their praise of these extraordinary cars, though most acknowledged their unforgiving nature if driven hard. John Young smiles as he exclaims, “When you drive a 300SL quickly, it’s important to keep the power on in the corners or they spin – you’ve really got to drive it! Moss was the master.” He pauses and then continues, “Moss was the best driver of these; he was very good.”

After the Second World War, Mercedes were only allowed to return to racing in 1950. 1951 saw a series of victories for the marque including a 1-2 at Le Mans. The Gullwing’s body attracted sensational interest amongst the press and motoring enthusiasts. Stirling Moss’s win in a 300SLR at the 1955 Italian Mille Miglia road race helped to seal Mercedes’ dominance in motor racing and his reputation as one of the greatest drivers of all time. Moss was accompanied by the writer and navigator Denis Jenkinson, known as “Jenks”. Jenks gave an account of Moss’s remarkable drive, writing for Motor Sport in June 1955. It emphasised the driver’s concentration and commitment and his particular gift for setting up and balancing a car at extreme speed through towns and countryside. Moss would later remark that the roadside crowds gave the event a “fiesta feeling”.

Unlike Jenks, John Young remarks that he is a “bad passenger” – unsurprising coming from a man who was used to being in control behind the wheel of a racing car. Amongst many racing drives in 1955, John was a works driver to the Connaught team and raced in the Goodwood Nine Hours Endurance Race in a Lotus-Connaught with John Coombes. “I’ll never forget my mate Roy Salvadori offering to show me a circuit,” he says. “I got in the car but, my goodness, you’d hold on when he was flat out. He went so fast that I slid under the dashboard!” Roy Salvadori famously won Le Mans for Aston Martin in 1959.

John Young, co-driver to his friend John Coombs in a 2.6 Alfa Romeo in the 1988 Mille Miglia Revival

I ask John if he ever competed in the Mille Miglia. He answers modestly, “I drove the 1988 Mille Miglia Revival in an Alfa Romeo 2.6 with John Coombs.”

Gentleman racer and collector John Young in his 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

Our conversation returns to John’s beautiful 300SL Gullwing. “These cars were really advanced for their time, with their tubular space frames and in-line, six-cylinder engines, which have a racing note,” he comments. I remark on the large side vents which, like the doors, are such a distinctive feature of the Gullwing. John responds, “They are important for discharging the heat from under the bonnet. Although the lines and details are beautiful, this is above all a properly engineered car.” You sit low in the car and the evocative smell of the original blue leather captures the senses. John explains that most of these cars had fabric seats and that this was a rare option. In the driving seat, your view beyond the ivory coloured steering wheel, instrument binnacle and painted dash is of the long, gently curving bonnet with its two characteristic bulges. Underway, the engine revs rise rapidly and there is a hard note to this engine, reminding you that its heritage is in motor racing. The excitement of the engineered, mechanical qualities of this remarkable vehicle delight the senses. John acknowledges the tremendous acceleration these cars are capable of. Although they were raced, they are truly grand tourers.

Returning to John’s terrace, we sit drinking champagne as the sun begins to set on what will be one of the last warm evenings of the year. With the South Downs before us, my friend John Young regales with stories of a glamorous motor racing age of gentlemen racers and enthusiasts now overtaken. Like its generous owner, this Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing stands as a wonderful testament to this remarkable post-war period.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 1st October 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.