BOB McKay’s passion for classic cars took him on a journey over 35 years and an enduring affair for the best of British engineering that has culminated this month in an auction that attracted global interest.

The sale of nine British classics, conducted by auction house Doningtons as part of the collection, is likely to reap about $2.5 million – a sum that while substantial, is a discount to what the collection could have made only 18 months prior.

Mr McKay told GoAutoNews Premium from his Brisbane residence that nervousness about the world economy and some recent sales of collectible cars had held back buyer enthusiasm.

He cited one of his Aston Martins – he has seven and sequenced through from the DB4 to the DB9, and Zagato and Volante – valued 18 months ago at $750,000 and now being negotiated for less.

The Aston Martin prices were hit by a Middle East collector who, some years ago, bought 500 cars. When he died recently, the cars flooded the market and eroded the brand’s prices by up to 50 per cent.

But the prices are secondary. Mr McKay, a retired engineer and aged “a young”’ 85 years, is selling as he and his wife downsize their property and ease back on what has been a busy involvement with cars, from collecting and restoring to racing.

Jaguar XJ13 Re-Creation by Proteus

“I thought I would have these for life,” he said of his collection of almost 30 vehicles.

“They’re like children. You love them all and you don’t have favourites. I will miss them but we have to downsize.”

His collection started 35 years ago with a single Jaguar E-Type followed by a second E-Type that needed a lot of restoration. Both were listed, and sold, in the recent auction.

As the collection grew, he bought the neighbouring house in Brisbane and gutted it, slowly filling the building with cars.

Cars included the rare Proteus-built Jaguar XJ13 replica which featured on a 1993 edition of the British television program Top Gear, hosted by Tiff Needell. The Proteus was stored in a private European collection before arriving here in 2017. 

Austin Healey 100M

Mr McKay said that if he was allowed favourites, the XJ13, along with the Aston Martin Zagato, would make the short list. “They are moving pieces of art.”

His collection may be broken up and moving out but Mr McKay isn’t completely out of the game.

“My wife has seen another house that is a bit smaller, so we are considering moving,” he said.


“I know I will need a project so I plan to just have a little shed on the new property where I can start a small restoration.

“I am working on a Jaguar XJC and Triumph TR4a and I have decided to keep one of the cars from the collection. It’s a 1982 Rolls-Royce Corniche and although I always thought I wasn’t a Rolls-Royce sort of person, I am really drawn to its beautiful workmanship.”

Doningtons is still negotiating on some of the cars that were placed up for auction. It includes the XJ13 which, despite previously being a car valued close to $1 million, has an offer much lower, reflecting the current global classic car price hiatus.There are still another five cars to sell, along with two in Melbourne that didn’t meet their auction reserve. The E-Type Lightweight is going to Mr McKay’s son in England.

By Neil Dowling

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