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Classic American tops £1 million at Bonhams Amelia Island sale

The rare custom-bodied Cord L-29 Murphy Town Car was one of four built to transport Hollywood stars around in the 1920s and 30s. The only short wheelbase version to survive, it’s been known as Dolores Del Rio’s car since the 1950s. 

Perhaps just as remarkable as this is the fact that it’s in well-preserved, unrestored condition, thanks to its owner of the past 55 years Jay Hyde. Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of interest in it during the 12 March Bonhams sale, and the Cord eventually went under the hammer for £1,175,931. 

Another car with a Hollywood connection was a 1930 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 that was given to Marlene Dietrich by Paramount Studios on her arrival in America to work for the film company. The Transformal Phaeton car has a patented convertible design by Parisian coachbuilders Hibbard & Darrin. 

After languishing in a barn for 20 years, the Rolls was given a $500,000 restoration in the 2000s that resulted in it becoming a multiple Best in Show and Best in Class award winner. It sold for £496,096 - three times the average Phantom 1 auction sale price for the past 24 months. 

After some prolonged bidding, a 1908 American Underslung 50hp Roadster - credited as being one of the earliest American sports cars - was sold for £1,161,232. The car had been bought by renowned American collector D Cameron Peck in the late 1940s, and owned by him for more than a decade. 

A rare sight - and strong performer - at the Bonhams sale was a 1952 Alfa Romeo 1900C Sprint coupe. The car had known history from new, with just one owner from 1962 to 2004 and had been restored in 2008. It achieved just over £277,000. 

Not all the lots on offer sold for six-figure sums, and one appealing and affordable car was a Triumph Vitesse Sports 6 convertible. The limited edition car was restored around 20 years ago and was snapped up for just over £17,000.  

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By Claire Evans

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