My Car Quest

July 17, 2024

Bonhams Has Fallen Into The “Dirt Is Patina” Trap

by Mike –

I did not think a collector car auction company could surprise me but Bonhams has managed to do so (I am not talking about the Ferrari 250 GTO they have for auction at no reserve).

They are auctioning an enticing ‘barn find’ Jaguar that appears to be the same one I wrote about recently when it was sold by Auctions America this past May at their Auburn Spring auction for $45,100.

Someone is trying the same gambit at the Bonhams Monterey auction. This Jaguar is still dirty in all the same places, however, Bonhams has it listed as a 1953 where Auctions America listed it as a 1954.

Both Bonhams and Auctions America say this Jaguar spent many years in a barn in Georgia or was stored in Georgia. The word “barn” is used freely so I assume it was in or near a barn in Georgia. Or they could mean it is as dirty as a barn, I’m not quite sure.

1953 Jaguar XK120 Drophead Coupe



Bonhams says,

* Enticing ‘barn find’ condition

* Largely complete and factory correct

* A great project car to bring back to its former glory

* Eligible for tours and rallies

* Offered with Jaguar Trust Heritage Certificate

By “enticing ‘barn find’ condition” if Bonhams means it is exceptionally dirty then this Jaguar meets that requirement.

They were able to push this Jaguar into a green forest setting for the photo shoot without disturbing too much of the enticing dirt which I am sure someone at Bonhams, and likely the seller, believe will create such a stir that the bidding will go higher.

This “dirt as patina” sales approach did not work very well at Auctions America let’s see if buyers in Monterey are more gullible than those in Auburn. The Bonhams listing is here.

Let us know what you think about this in the Comments.

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Bonhams Has Fallen Into The
Article Name
Bonhams Has Fallen Into The
Bonhams is auctioning the same dirty Jaguar XK120 that was sold by Auctions America this past May.


  1. This is ridiculous!! Why would anyone think all this dirt is indicative of a car worth the effort and expense to restore?
    What it says to me is that the owner didn’t care enough to properly store the car or a least cover it and therefore what other surprises might be lurking under it’s neglected skin. This patina/dirt thing is getting our of hand. Why is a filthy, derelict car preferable to a properly maintained one…patina I can understand if the car has just been maintained throughout its life without restoration….I see the value in that as it accurately reflects the car when first manufactured…but bringing a car to auction or even selling privately without washing or dusting it off, cleaning the accumulated grease away is a fools journey!

    • Carl,

      Right you are. What you write is exactly how I feel and why I write about this phony patina subject so much – here are other posts on the same subject,

      Also, the longer the dirt stays on the car the more damage it does. Dirt is not your friend or your cars friend and as you said “the owner didn’t care enough to properly store the car” – this is not as asset when buying an old car.

      I do wish the auction companies would stop all this. I have suggested before that all collector car auction company management should read “The Stewardship of Historically Important Automobiles” by The Simeone Automotive Foundation.

  2. Bob Schneider says

    Mike, the dopes’ cleaned off a spot on the windshield & certainly marred this vehicle’s stunning patina…seriously though these folk & others of their ‘ilk’ are now & have been for sometime motivated by profit. Nothing more, nothing less.

  3. Sort of looks like a muddy puppy from the back. Years of Georgia humidity I imagine the only thing holding this car together is the Patina/dirt and paint. Cheaper to buy a finished car.

  4. Dear friends,
    I am currently restoring this car back to its glory. Mechanically and structurally the car is in more or less good shape. There is some serious body and frame rust problems, but nothing impossible to be done.
    Best regards to everyone

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