Hammond’s Esprit Sport 350 goes to auction

Along with seven other lots from the presenter's private collection

By Matt Bird / Friday, July 23, 2021 / Loading comments

It should be no surprise given the name, really, but Silverstone Auctions sale at the Silverstone Classic is always a good one – and this year promises to be no different. Because in amongst the fast Ford lineup – Escort RS Turbo, RS1600i and Sierra Cossie – the brace of Bowlers, Group A touring cars and the Talbot-Matra Murena is a collection of vehicles owned by Richard Hammond. They’re actually interesting, too, as opposed to just being interesting because they were the property of the shortest one from Top Gear.

Alright, so the majority are bikes. But when one of those is the 50th of 50 Norton Dominator 961 Streets – Hammond’s 50th birthday to himself – you get an idea of the calibre of toy going under the hammer. The two-wheeled lots also include a Velocette, Moto Guzzi, Kawasaki Z900 A4 and Sunbeam Model 2.

But, of course, it’s the cars that are of the most interest. That a 911 is being sold should be no surprise given Hammond’s well-known fondness for Porsches. A 1969 (but 1970 model year) 911T, it’s one of the first with the larger 2.2-litre flat six. A California car that’s believed to be original, Silverstone Auctions says it will “provide some of the most quintessentially rewarding driving experiences you have ever had”. It’s also selling a Bentley S2 of Hammond’s, said to have undergone recent, extensive body refurbishment and powered by the iconic V8.

But the main Hammond lot of interest, for PH at least, is the Lotus Esprit Sport 350. It’s up there as one of the most revered Esprits produced in its almost-30-year life, taking the methods employed to create the glorious Sport 300 but using the V8 Esprit as the base instead. The Sport 350 was 85kg lighter than a V8 GT and upgraded with parts like a carbon wing, magnesium alloy OZ wheels, AP Racing brakes and Monroe dampers. It was predictably sensational to drive, and a production run of just 48 ensured exclusivity.

Hammond’s Sport 350 is number five (note the early 1999 ‘T’ reg plate that few are seen on), finished in the signature New Aluminium Metallic. It’s covered 47,000 miles since new and has apparently had an engine rebuild – they’re consumables on the V8 Esprits, right? – to complement its “superb” condition.

All eight of the Hammond lots being sold by Silverstone Auctions next weekend are offered without reserve. They’re being sold to fund his new classic car restoration business, The Smallest Cog: “The irony of me supporting my new classic car restoration business by selling some of my own classic car collection is not wasted on me”, he said. “It is with a very heavy heart that they go, as they have a great deal of personal sentimental value, but they will be funding the future development of the business and giving life back to countless other classic vehicles.” And if you’re signed up to PH parking at Silverstone Classic and fancy a cheeky bid on the Sport 350, think big – even a very good regular V8 will now set you back £50k…

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