The 8 coolest cars at the Bonhams Abu Dhabi sale

10th November 2023
Russell Campbell

It would be quite tempting to cover all the big hitters at the Bonhams|Cars Abu Dhabi sale, but we've covered Kimi Räikkönen’s McLaren-Mercedes-Benz MP4/21 and Mario Andretti’s Lotus-Cosworth Ford Type 79 'John Player Special' F1 cars separately. And the same goes for the Wolf of Wall Street Lambo. So instead, here we take a look at the best of the rest, covering everything from window-less Barchettas to untouched Porsches and Ferrari F40 toys fit for an heir. Read on for our guide to the Abu Dhabi sale.


1. 1995 De Tomaso Guarà Barchetta

Valued at £146,000 - £179,000 

With the fuss caused by cars like the McLaren Elva and Pininfarina B95, you might think the concept of a windscreen-less supercar is relatively new, but it's not. Cars like the De Tomaso Guarà Barchetta show well-heeled owners have had a love for getting flies in their eyes that predates modern machines.

The Guarà Coupe was based on the underpinnings of the Maserati Barchetta, an open-top de Tomaso had intended to use to form the basis of a one-make series. As a result, the Guarà had an aluminium backbone chassis inboard pushrod suspension, and power came from the BMW 540i's M60 V8 that produced plenty of power in a car weighing 1,050kg. Unlike the Coupe, this Barchetta does without power steering, servo-assisted brakes, ABS and, indeed, a windscreen. It’s also just one of just ten examples built.  


2. 2011 Porsche 911 Type 997 GT3 RS 4.0-Litre Coupé

Valued at £326,000 - £367,000

Many consider the 2010s a peak period in motoring, where cars boasted modern reliability and switchable performance-enhancing electronics without the ballooned dimensions, nannying safety features, frustrating touchscreens and noise-killing particulate filters of current cars. 

The Porsche 911 997 GT3 RS 4.0-litre backs this theory up rather well. Its small size and beautiful hydraulic power steering make it easy to place on the road, but you also get sophisticated traction and stability control systems. Okay, so it's not air-cooled, but the 997s water-cooled flat-six delivers peak power at a scintillating 8,250rpm and sounds outrageously good doing it. It's a banner-like advert for why you should never want a turbocharger. The 997's rear-engined configuration (the current car's more mid-rear) adds another layer to the fabric of this car's driving experience.


3. 2001 Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG Cabriolet

Valued at £114,000 - £147,000

If you need to cross the desert at speed, there can't be many better cars than a convertible, short-wheel base G55 G-Wagon. By day, you can cruise the dunes roof-up in air-conditioned luxury, safe in the knowledge that the Merc's tank-like build quality and electronically controlled differentials can handle the worst the desert has to throw at you. Then, when the punishing sun passes and day turns to night, you can drop the roof and listen in wonder as the Panzer-like rumble of the Merc V8's side-exit exhausts shatters the still of the desert night. A useful 354PS (260kW) means it'll even be quick on the skelp up the highway home. 

Finished in Obsidian Black, this particular example has a specification fit for an Abu Dhabi prince, coming with 18-inch wheels, Burr Walnut trim, heated seats and a period-correct Comand DVD navigation system.


4. 2022 McLaren Elva Two-Seat Open Cockpit Hypercar

Valued at £2million - £2.4million

For once, lot 22P isn't so much about the car as the person who owns it – which is saying something when the car is an 811PS (597kW) McLaren with no windscreen. That's because its current keeper is one Fernando Alonso, a former Formula 1 World Champion and someone who's generally accepted to be a living legend of the sport. Only last weekend, he hustled his AMR23 Aston Martin to a third-place finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix ahead of a Sergio Perez-piloted Adrian Newey Red Bull, considered one of the best F1 cars ever made. 

Any worries, the McLaren Elva has been subjected to hard track time dissolve with news that the car has covered less than three miles – the charms of the windscreen-less McLaren perhaps lost on a man used to having no more than a halo for shelter.


5. 2012 Aston Martin DBS Coupé 

Valued at £57,000 - £81,000

Ordinarily, an Aston Martin DBS wouldn't make it onto these haloed pages, even if it is one of the prettiest-looking cars on the planet. But this particular example piqued our interest thanks to its scandalously low 65-mile mileage and because it's offered with no reserve and a lower estimate close to what you'd currently pay for a well-used example on Auto Trader. 

After a life on display as part of a private collection, the only caveat is it needs gentle recommissioning. It would be worth it, though. Based on the DB9 – a car so staggeringly beautiful it leaves enthusiasts jangling at the knees – the DBS has had a thorough mechanical overhaul that transforms it from a lazy continent cruiser to a genuine super GT that’ll be as much fun on the Autostrada as it is on the mountain passes as you close in on your destination.  


6. 1998 Italdesign Aztec Barchetta

Valued at £147,000 - £179,000

The Aztec Barchetta is the third windscreen-less car on an auction list that's fast becoming a tribute to the breed, but then, a one-in-20 car is hard to ignore, especially when it looks this good. 

It's a testament to Italdesign's mastery with a block of clay that the Aztec predates the De Tomaso Guarà Barchetta by over half a decade. It's even more striking thanks to its faired-in rear wheels, fighter-jet style canopies and yoke steering wheel. But looks can be deceiving because while the Aztec looks to this day high-tech, it's mechanically very simple with its mid-mounted five-cylinder engine borrowed from the Audi Quattro and a four-wheel drive system that features parts from the Lancia Integrale. The carbon-fibre and Kevlar body is mounted on a comparatively basic steel ladder-frame chassis.


7. Ferrari F40 F-Racer Junior Child's Car 

Valued at £16,000 - £24,000

The Ferrari F40 is the stuff supercar dreams are made of, with a twin-turbocharged mid-mounted V8 engine stomping out vast amounts of power and a lightweight paint job so thin you can see the weave of the car’s groundbreaking carbon-fibre body panels. It's a poster car that will take pride of place on the wall of many young enthusiasts, which is a shame because they can't drive it (in fairness, few adults get the chance either). 

But there is an answer, and it's this – the F-Racer. Measuring 2,600mm by 1,600mm, the F-Racer looks like an F40 that has been through a 90-degree heat cycle. Nevertheless, there's room inside for two budding young supercar enthusiasts or one adult. Sadly (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the F-Racer has a top speed of just 35mph from its 270cc petrol engine. Barely enough to test its wishbone suspension, Brembo brakes and laughable limited-slip differential.


8. 1993 Porsche 911 Type 964 Carrera RSR 3.8-Litre

Valued at £1.6million - £2million

Here at GRR, we're not always the greatest fans of garage-queen cars so precious they're too risky to use, but something about this one-of-two 964 Strassenversion RSR made it impossible not to include. It may be the 964 shape, which is brimmed with cool at the best of times, but has cool cascading down its sides in this wide-bodied configuration. It could be that this is the lowest-mileage Strassenversion in existence, with a patina to die for, complete with its intact Cosmoline protective coating. Or it could be its fantastically preserved Guards Red, roll-cage-equipped interior. 

Whatever reason you choose to buy this RSR, it would be incredibly tempting to have it recommissioned. Its factory-claimed 324PS (238kW) is thought to be outrageously conservative, which would explain why it can accelerate from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds – quicker than a Ferrari F40. Brakes that stop the car 70mph in 150 feet are equally impressive, and it boasts race-ready kit like centre-locking (and gorgeous) wheels, built-in air jacks, a 120-litre fuel tank and a Le Mans-spec twin-plug engine.

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