A 1945 Supermarine Spitfire MK XVI is to star in Bonhams & Goodman's inaugural sale of Collectors' Motor Cars and Aircraft in New Zealand on the 14th September.
The sale comes in a double anniversary year for military aircraft - it is the 90th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force at the end of the First World War, and it is also exactly 70 years since the Spitfire first became operational in 1938.
Bonhams & Goodman are delighted to be offering the 1945 Supermarine Spitfire MK XVI in their inaugural sale of collectors' motorcars in New Zealand. The Spitfire is the ultimate WWII fighter aircraft and its battles with the Messerschmitt 109s during the war combined with its easily recognisable wing shape and distinctive engine note (courtesy of, in most cases, a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine) earned it a legendary status during the Battle of Britain, a reputation that still stands today. It is believed that there are around 44 airworthy Spitfires surviving to this day although a number of air museums have examples on static display.
Tim Goodman, Chairman of Bonhams and Goodman, comments: 'We are greatly honoured to be asked to sell such a distinguished and historic aircraft. As Bonhams is the last of the great international fine art auction houses to remain under British management, the sale of an aircraft so linked to the history and very survival of Great Britain has enormous significance for us here at Bonhams and Goodman.'
This historical aircraft (RAF Serial No. TE 330) was constructed at the Castle Bromwich works in late April 1945 and was accepted by RAF Cosford. After seeing active service with the RAF it was flown in the 1957 Battle of Britain Memorial flight before being donated to the United States Air Force (USAF) in 1959. It was displayed at the USAF academy in Colorado Springs until around 1997 when the Aircraft found its way to New Zealand via the Hong Kong based businessman James Slade. In 1997 an ongoing restoration of the aircraft was begun and in 1999 it was purchased by the present owners who have continued to restore the aircraft to its current near complete condition.
Rarely do original Spitfires surface on to the open market. 'We are very excited to have discovered this important aircraft in New Zealand,' enthuses Robert Glover, National Head of Collectors' Motor Cars at Bonhams & Goodman. 'Whilst we are more used to selling machines with four wheels and no wings, aircraft design and motor car design are inextricably linked, indeed a large number of aircraft collectors are also motor car collectors. It is fitting that this year celebrates 70 years since the Spitfire started production of which this aircraft is such an important part of its history.'
Collectors' Motor Cars and Aircraft
Sunday 14 September
The World of Wearable Arts and Classic Car Museum
95 Quarantine Road, Annesbrook
Aircraft is the first two-seater Spitfire to be offered at public auction for more than twenty years.
The full sized aluminium replica of a MKVb Supermarine Spitfire took 10 months and 11,000 man-hours to construct.
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