Bonhams, The Monaco Sale
‘Les Grandes Marques à Monaco’
Musée des Voitures du Prince,
Monte Carlo, 11th May, 2012
Bonhams Aston Martin Sale
Aston Martin Works Service,
Newport Pagnell, United Kingdom
19th May, 2012
It has always struck me as deeply hypocritical that well-off traditionalists apparently think nothing of parking their red Ferraris in front of their classical London abode or twee country cottage, while criticising modern architects for parking their uncompromising buildings beside traditional ones. Perhaps, like heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, an ardent critic of modern architecture, who infamously wielded his considerable influence with the Saudis to shaft Richard Rodgers‘ redevelopment scheme for London’s Chelsea Barracks site, who however tore around in an Aston Martin DB6 MKII, given to him by his mother, the Queen, for his 21st birthday, they see cars as transitory, unthreatening objects. Described by Fast Lane magazine, as the most ‘aristocratic of convertibles’, His Royal Highness’s eminently collectable, 1994 Aston Martin Virage Volante 6.3-Litre convertible, below, is included in Bonhams Aston Martin Sale with a pre-sale estimate of £50,000-£70,000.
A love of cars may have been the only thing legendary modernist, designer Raymond Lowey (1893-1986) – described on the official Lowey website as ‘The Father of the Industrial Design’ – and the Prince had in common. Although it must be said that Loewy, who believed that: ‘The adult public’s taste is not necessarily ready to accept the logical solutions to their requirements if the solution implies too vast a departure from what they have been conditioned into accepting as the norm,’ may well have had the ability to see things from the Prince’s perspective.
Lowey’s car, a 1972 Studebaker Avanti II Coupé, top, which he designed himself along with an astonishing list of mid-20th century modern classics including: the slimmed-down Coca-Cola bottle, the Lucky Strike cigarette package, the interior of Saturn I, Saturn V and Skylab, the Greyhound bus and logo, the Shell International logo, the Exxon logo and the US Postal Service emblem, is also up for auction with Bonhams, as one of the highlights of their ‘Les Grand Marques à Monaco’ sale in Monte Carlo. Its estimated price is £35,000-£50,000. Lowey, also known as ‘The Man Who Designed America’ who returned in 1972 to live in his birthplace, Paris, bought an Avanti II and had the great beast of an automobile shipped to Europe, where it was one of very few seen on French roads. The designer later retired to Monaco, dying there in 1986. The sale coincides with the biannual Monaco Historic Grand Prix.
In 1961, while designing the Avanti, Loewy left out the grill, arguing that, ‘In this age of fuel shortages you must eliminate weight. Who needs grills? Grills I always associate with sewers.’ Meanwhile, at his request, Aston Martin converted Prince Charles’ DB6 MKII – last seen driven by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they left their wedding reception – to run on bio-ethanol fuel distilled from surplus British wine.
Cars, from top
Raymond Lowey’s 1972 Studebaker Avanti II
Aston Martin DB6 MKII, once owned by Prince Charles