Porsche 917-30

1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder

Offered by Gooding & Company, Amelia Island, Florida, March 9, 2012

Photo – Gooding & Company

Every once in a while a car comes up for sale that, basically, makes you yell “Holy crap!” and drop your sandwich and the plate it sat on. The plate falls in slow-motion and shatters on the floor. Complete spit-take. Like a car that you think only the manufacturer owns and sits in their private museum and will never be sold. Except that it’s apparently up for sale. This is one such car.

This is the “Can-Am Killer” – a car so dominant that it drove the series in which it competed into extinction. Nothing could keep pace with this monster of a race car. It is the most powerful road-racing car ever built. Its 5.4-liter twin-turbocharged Flat-12 produced about 1,200 horsepower. During qualifying sessions in the 1973 season, the turbos were turned up to full boost, pushing power output closer to 1,600. It weighed 1,800 lbs – so we’re talking sub-2.0 second 0-60 mph times. The car’s dominance, in conjunction with other factors, led to the demise of the Can-Am series.

This particular car (chassis #004) is painted in period-correct Penske Sunoco livery, although it was not one of the cars campaigned by Roger Penkse in the Can-Am series. It was supposed to be, however. In fact, Mark Donohue was supposed to drive this car in 1974 but because Can-Am more or less banned the 917/30 from competition (through rules changes), the car’s build was halted but eventually completed and sold new to Alan Hamilton, the Australian Porsche importer. Porsche then later re-acquired the car for somewhere around $2 million in 1991.

This is one of six (6) Porsche 917/30s built. Two of them are owned by Porsche. It is the most dominate of all racing cars and the ultimate version of the 917, which itself was a line of super-successful racing cars. It’s pre-sale estimate is $3,250,000-$4,000,000. What a rare opportunity. The complete catalog description can be found here and the entire Gooding catalog can be seen here.

As a side note, I recently learned (via a 30 minute TV comedy) that you’re supposed to wear blue and yellow on Leap Day, so this car is quite appropriate. Happy Leap Day!

Update: Sold $4,400,000.

Update II: Sold, Gooding & Company Amelia Island 2016, $3,000,000.

TVR 3000S

1979 TVR 3000S

Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | March 9, 2012

TVR never sent many cars to the U.S. and they haven’t sent any (officially) for decades. Which is a shame because they were one of the last true volume builders of outrageous supercars.

The 3000S wasn’t quite a supercar. But back in the 1970s TVR was building British sports cars with solid performance. I don’t normally associate TVR with the likes of Triumph, MG and the like, mostly, I guess, because TVR was privately owned and managed to avoid the meltdown of the British automotive industry in the 1970s. Plus, they are rarer and command comparatively more cash.

This is actually a good looking car – just don’t dare mention the fact that it (or other British cars of similar vintage) could resemble a Datsun (trust me, I learned that the hard way). It has a 3.0 liter V-6 making 142 horsepower.

The 3000S was only in production in 1978 and 1979. Only 258 were built and of those, only  67 were left-hand drive models and only 49 of those were exported to North America. So, in a way, this car is one of 49. This car is the perfect car to buy if you want to show up at a British car show in something other than an MGB. It will definitely turn heads among those in the know. It is estimated between $40,000-$50,000. For more info click here and more on the sale here.

Update: Sold $24,200.

Pre-war Morris Isis

1933 Morris Isis 17.7hp Coupe

Offered by Bonhams, Oxford, England, March 3, 2012

Photo – Bonhams

The first generation of the Morris Isis was produced between 1929 and 1935 and was the only pre-war iteration of the model. The Isis received a facelift for 1932 to resemble the model offered here. It’s one of the more attractive Morris’ I’ve ever seen.

The Isis was the six-cylinder Morris with a 2.5 liter engine making 17.7 horsepower – enough to propel the car to 65 mph. It has a steel body over an ash frame – very British. 3,467 facelifted Isis models were made, including the deluxe Twenty-Five version with the larger 3.5 liter engine.

The car offered here shows very well with it’s attractive red coachwork. Mechanicals were “freshened” in 2006 and the interior is quite nice as well. Bonhams estimates this car between $15,000-$24,000, which sounds quite reasonable for something that looks this nice. For more on this car, click here and for more on Bonhams in Oxford, click here.

Update: Sold $21,000.

Duesenberg J-103

1929 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Berline by LeBaron

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2012

LeBaron-bodied Duesenbergs are my favorite, although not necessarily Convertible Sedans. This one has an interesting history, having been owned first by Canada’s first and only Duesenberg dealer, Billy Van Horne. J103 was one of the first cars built (it was the fourth engine and third chassis constructed). It was the first long-wheelbase chassis.

The original body on this car was a Holbrook Seven-Passenger Limousine, which was fitted when the car sat on the Duesenberg stand at the 1929 New York Auto Show. The current body was fitted in 1935 when the third owner shipped the car back to Indiana to get  a more sporting body mounted on chassis 2127.

This car was restored for the first time in the early 1960s before it found its new home in the Midwest. The restoration has been “upgraded” twice since, in order to keep the car fresh. Ownership is known from new and this is a Duesenberg with no “stories.” There was no storage in a barn for 40 years. Someone has been enjoying this car since it left the factory. Now it is being sold out of the collection of John O’Quinn.

There were only three of these LeBaron Convertible Berline bodies built. RM estimates the sale price of this car to be between $800,000-$1,000,000. To read the complete description, click here and for the rest of RM in Florida, click here.

Update: Sold $803,000.

Squire Drophead Coupe

1937 Squire 1.5-Liter Drophead Coupe by Corsica

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2012

Remember how, in high school, you’d sit and doodle and draw the fastest imaginary car you could imagine? To be honest, it was probably atrocious (mine were) – festooned with grotesque wings and Countach-like boxy proportions.

Well, in 1931 Adrian Squire, then 21-years-old, decided he would build the dream car he wanted. He founded Squire Motors Ltd. and set out building amazing automobiles. And he did. Squire was a former employee of both Bentley and MG, so he knew what a great sports car should be.

The company was renamed in 1934 to the Squire Car Manufacturing Company and started building cars in 1935. They used a 1.5-liter inline four built by Anzani. A Roots-type supercharger was then added for a total output of 110 horsepower. The cars were exorbitantly expensive and only seven were sold by the end of 1936.

The final car was bought by a man of the name Val Zethrin (who sounds like the villain in a sci-fi movie about space). He was apparently impressed by the car and acquired the rights (and spares) of Squire. He constructed about a car per year through 1939, taking total Squire production to 10 cars. The one offered here is the first of the Val Zethrin cars, from 1937.

Adrian Squire left his company and went to work at Lagonda before ending up at the Bristol Aeroplane Company, where he was killed at age 30 during a bombing raid in WWII. The cars that bear his name remain legendary for being some of the fastest, best handling and performing road cars built prior to WWII.

1937 Squire 1½-Liter Drophead Coupe

This car features spectacular coachwork from Corsica of London which was modified slightly during restoration in the mid-1990s. The mechanicals have been freshened more recently and the car is ready to roll. Nine of the ten Squires built are still around. You won’t find one more outstanding than this.

If you want it, I hope you have deep pockets, as RM did not publish an estimate for this car. To read the entire catalog description, click here. And to see the rest of the Amelia Island lineup, click here.

Update: Sold $990,000.

Cord L-29 Special Coupe

1929 Cord L-29 Special Coupe by The Hayes Body Corporation

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2012

Simply the most beautiful L-29 I have ever seen – LaGrande Speedster included. The body was designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and built by the Hayes Body Corporation of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I’ve been sitting here staring at the car for some time and I think it all comes down to the windows. They have an almost teardrop shape to them.

Revolutionary in design, the Cord L-29 made front-wheel drive a viable option for stylish, low-slung cars. They were the first to offer such a configuration and they did it with style. Unfortunately, performance couldn’t quite match the looks that went with it. The L-29 had a  4.9 liter inline eight-cylinder engine making only 125 horsepower – which, compared to most common automobiles of the time this was a lot (the Ford Model T had gone out of production two years earlier with a 20 horsepower engine). But for cars in its price range, it was lacking – especially since it weighed almost 2.5 tons and was only capable of a little more than 75 mph.

But that’s no matter, because in 2012 you aren’t buying a Cord L-29 to set land speed records. You’re buying them for their indelible sense of style and what they represent – the flair of the last days of a bygone era. The Roaring Twenties were crashing to a halt and E.L. Cord was introducing new lines of fabulous automobiles that only a select few could afford. It was a losing proposition but he hung in there as long as he could and this is the fantastic result of his passion.

This car cost about $20,000 to build in 1929. Upon completion, it toured Europe and won awards. In 1941 it was acquired by famed designer Brooks Stevens (for the outrageous sum of $1). It was restored under Stevens cars in the 1980s and was sold in the early 1990s and passed hands once again about four years ago. There is only one of these and it has known ownership history from new. Don’t miss your chance.

Cord L-29s are always pretty, but this one takes it to another level. RM did not publish an estimate for this car, so look for it to bring a sizable chunk of change. For the complete catalog description click here and to see more of what RM has waiting to be sold at Amelia Island, click here.

Update: Sold $2,420,000.

1913 Hispano-Suiza Double Berline

1913 Hispano-Suiza “King Alfonso XIII” Double Berline by Alin & Liautard

Offered by RM Auctions | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2012

I’m just going to come right out and say it: this car looks downright scary. Not in a bad way – but in a baroque haunted house kind of way. It looks kind of a like a car constructed by a movie studio that some hapless family would stumble upon in the garage of an old castle and use to escape their ghostly tormentors.

But it isn’t. This is one of four “Colonial” chassis cars built by the Spanish firm. They named the car after their unofficial spokesman, King Alfonso XIII of Spain. His exploits in Hispano-Suiza cars helped them reach markets they would have otherwise been without. The engine is a sporty 3.6 liter four-cylinder making 64 horsepower.

This car was discovered in Spain in the mid-1980s wearing a touring body with the Double Berline body sitting nearby. It was not uncommon in the early days of motoring to order a large coachbuilt car with seasonal bodies. The “winter” body seen here is by Carrosserie Alin & Liautard and is, like the rest of the car, entirely original. The body had not been touched since the 1940s and is wonderfully preserved.

It’s a car of details – one that would truly need to be seen in person in order to be fully appreciated. Big cars this like rarely made it through the wars unscathed. To find one this original in such a fascinating bodystyle is truly unique. I just hope the new owner maintains the history that this car has acquired over the years. It has been mechanically freshened, but a restoration would be criminal.

The estimate on the car is $750,000-$1,000,000. This is a fascinating automobile. To read the full description, click here. To see the rest of RM’s Amelia Island lineup, click here.

Update: Not Sold.

Artcurial Rétromobile Highlights

The Artcurial auction at Rétromobile in Paris had a high sell-through rate with a variety of interesting cars. Unfortunately, we only had time to feature two of them. First was the 1938 Horch 853 Cabriolet that ended up selling for $520,732, slightly exceeding its pre-sale estimate. Our other feature car was the awe-inspiring 1913 Delaunay-Belleville that has been in the same family since new – almost 100 years. Artcurial provided a rather large range for the car’s estimate and it sold right in the middle for $600,834.

There were numerous really interesting cars (I keep mentioning that, don’t I?). Some were extravagantly priced while others were downright affordable, like this 1965 Renault 4 that was modified to a convertible shortly after purchase. Renault did produce a 4 convertible – called the Plein Air, but this car pre-dates that model. It sold for $16,690.

The next car was not, well, affordable. But it certainly is jaw-dropping. It’s a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B with a 180 horsepower 5.4 liter straight-8. This particular car was once in the Rockefeller family and has an awesome paint scheme with black and silver with red highlights. It was the second top seller at $629,961.

A quartet of interesting pre-war cars from lesser-known manufacturers than Mercedes-Benz include this 1908 Lorraine Dietrich 12 HP Touring car. It sold for $72,831.

Even older is this London-to-Brighton eligible 1898 (or 1899) Decauville Voiturelle. It’s an early French car that appears to be quite rudimentary by today’s standards. But this was quite a vogue car back in 1898 when over 600 of them were sold. I’m sure they cost a lot less in the 19th century than the $106,212 it went for in Paris in 2012.

The 1912 Gobron-Brillie 12 CV Torpedo Skiff by Rothschild (below) had been on sale in St. Louis at Hyman Ltd. for $325,000. It’s the only one in existence and it could have been yours for $273,117. That’s about a $50,000 savings over buying it off the lot.

The cheapest car (by price) in the entire auction (including motorcycles and scooters) was this 1933 Rosengart LR4 Torpedo that missed its estimate and was sold for $6,828.

Slightly newer is this 1969 Alpine A110 1600 Coupe – a great looking car with racing pedigree. It sold for $84,970.

Cisitalia is best known for their 202 road car and even their monoposto race cars. But they also built about 15 of the 33 DF Voloradente model in the mid-1950s. This 1954 model brought $189,665.

Something I personally thought was really cool was this 1977 Fiat 131 Abarth Rally – a homologation rally car built for the street. 500 were built with a 140 horsepower 2.0-liter straight-4. It’s boxy, so you know it means business. Sale price: $71,314.

Top sale of the auction (which it as by nearly a factor of 10) was this 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder. It sold for $5,740,248. The average price for a LWB California Spyder over the past five or so years is about $3.4 million. Prices are rising.

Two other Italian gems were this aluminum-bodied 1967 Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada – one of only 72 alloy 5300 GTs. A very desirable car, selling for $447,608.

The other was this 1947 Fiat 1100 S MM by Rappi. It’s eligible for all kinds of historic events including the Mille Miglia. These cars are very rare and, although it only has 51 horsepower, they are apparently quite fun – and stylish. $166,905.

This auction also featured more than a dozen rare cars in their original condition. Multiple cars from Talbot-Lago, Hotchkiss, Panhard, Talbot, and Salmson. Most were sedans from the late 1940s and early 1950s. They all looked stately and dusty and ready to be freshened and brought back to life. Prices ranged from about $27,000-$90,000 for the cars as they were in various conditions. None of them were especially extravagant, but the one that keeps catching my eye as I look through the results was the last lot in the sale – this 1939 Hotchkiss 686 Chantilly Limousine. It is in need of a restoration – but imagine how good it would look all prettied up. It sold as is for $39,450.

For complete results, click here.

Marmon Sixteen

1932 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Sedan

Offered by RM Auctions | Boca Raton, Florida | February 25, 2012

The Marmon Sixteen was a mighty titan among Depression-era automobiles. Few American cars could match the grand, tank-like quality and power of a Marmon Sixteen. The model went on sale in 1931 – after Cadillac had begun selling their V16. You could buy a 16-cylinder Marmon until the company folded in 1933 and most of the 1933 models were leftover from 1932. About 400 Sixteens were built in total.

The car has an 8.0 liter V-16 making 200 horsepower. It is mated with this wonderful bodywork – one of just 11 that survive in Convertible Sedan form. Ownership is known from new and the car was restored in 1985 before being added to the collection where it currently resides in 1993. What a car.

RM estimates the sale price of this car between $400,000-$600,000. For the complete description, click here and to view the rest of the Milhous Collection, click here.

Update: Sold $522,500.

Rounds Rocket

1949 Rounds Rocket

Offered by RM Auctions, Boca Raton, Florida, February 25, 2012

This beastly mid-engined Indy car was built by Indy car-building legends Lujie Lesovsky & Emil Diedt for a man named Nathan Rounds, who provided the funding and the original drawing of the car that he modeled after the brilliant pre-war Auto Unions.

Because both Diedt and Lesovsky were busy building their own successful race cars, this car was barely ready for the 1949 Indy 500 where it as entered with Bill Taylor as the driver. He did not qualify. In 1950 both Sam Hanks and Bill Vukovich gave the car a run and failed to make the show. Bill Vukovich was a man among men at Indianapolis and – even though 1950 was his rookie year – if he couldn’t get the car in, there was scarcely hope.

Intrigue: Nathan Rounds was close friends with Howard Hughes and it is suspected that Hughes money was behind the project. After failing to make Indy in 1950 the car was shipped to Beverly Hills where it sat in storage, although it did appear in a Mickey Rooney film in 1949.

Bill Harrah (of course) discovered the car in 1969 and bought it. When his collection was parted out the car was purchased and restored and eventually purchased by the Milhous Collection in 1998.

Here is your chance to purchase a car that was extremely ahead of its time. Indy cars would be front-engined for at least another 10 years and here was this brilliant car that had come along and said “the way of the future” (that’s a Howard Hughes quote from The Aviator).

It features an Meyer-Drake Offenhauser straight-four engine (naturally), making about 350 horsepower. It’s fast too – it was tested at Bonneville after it was completed and was clocked at 140 mph. The no reserve pre-sale estimate is $250,000-$350,000. For the complete catalog description, click here and for the rest of the collection click here.

Update: Sold $275,000.