Duesenberg J-345

1931 Duesenberg Model SJ Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Monterey, California | August 16-17, 2013

1931 Duesenberg Model SJ 345 Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Auctions in Monterey spell “Duesenberg time!” This is a supercharged Model J – or, unofficially, an “SJ.” This, the opening paragraph, would also be a nice place to tell you that there is another subject of which I have a major interest. And that is: the early days of 20th Century organized crime. Why is that an important detail? Read on.

I’ll start by saying that this is not an original SJ – the supercharger was added in the late-1970s when it was restored. That said, the 6.9-liter straight eight makes 320 horsepower with the supercharger.

The car was purchased new by William Collins – who ran in the New York underworld and of whom I’ve heard nothing about. He was killed the day after he bought it. It was then bought by Mickey Duffy – one of the biggest bootleggers in Philadelphia. Fans of Boardwalk Empire: the character of Mickey Doyle is based on Mickey Duffy. From Duffy (who died in 1931), the car was next owned by Owney Madden – another famous bootlegger and owner of the Cotton Club.

He sold it in 1931 and that’s where this car’s history with the mob ends. It passed from owner to owner over the years – and in 1953 it was listed for sale for only $150! It was restored in the 1980s and has been carefully pampered since. Only 27 Disappearing Top Convertible Coupes were built by the prolific Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California. This one should sell for between $2,000,000-$2,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in California.

Update: Did not sell (high bid of $1,850,000)

Pebble Beach-Winning Mercedes 680S

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S-Type Torpedo Roadster by Saoutchik

Offered by RM Auctions | Monterey, California | August 16-17, 2013

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster by Saoutchik

Whoa. Every once in a while (and seemingly more and more often as of late) a car comes along that just shouldn’t exist. It’s so rare and it looks like something out of a black and white photograph that it just can’t be real. Cars like this only exist in private European collections. And only 60+ years ago.

But no, here it is. This car won Best in Show at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. This car was also displayed at the 1929 New York Auto Salon. A lot of people have seen it in person. We’ve actually featured another Mercedes-Benz 680 (here) if you want to read more about the evolution of the model.

Here’s some specs on this car. It uses a 6.8-liter straight-six with the pedal-controlled supercharger. That is: it made 120 horsepower when cruising around and 180 horsepower when you matted the throttle, engaging the “Kompressor.” It has top-of-the-line mechanicals for 1928.

But then there’s the body. It’s low slung and designed by one of the top coachbuilders of the era: Saoutchik of Paris. The interior is lizard skin. It was ordered by the wife of a wealthy American and by the time the car was completed, the couple was broke. It sat in a New York showroom before it was sold to a young Standard Oil executive. There’s a pretty cool story about it that I won’t reprint here, but you can read about it on RM’s website.

The car was parked in 1952. It was restored for the first time in 1980 and in 1986 it was placed in a museum where it remained until 2006 (the first time it left ownership of the original family). The current owner bought it in 2008 and had it fully restored – with brand new lizard skin interior.

Only 124 Type S Mercedes’ were built. Only three had short-windshield bodies from Saoutchik. Of those three, this is the only one left. In order to bid on this car, you have to tell the auction house prior to the sale. That’s a solid hint that it is expected to bring an insane amount of money. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in Monterey.

Update: Sold $8,250,000.

Update II: Not sold, RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba 2017.

S/N: 35949

A Cool-Looking Moretti

1954 Moretti 750 Spider Bialbero

Offered by Coys | Nurburgring, Germany | August 10, 2013

1954 Moretti 750 Spider Bialbero

Moretti built a number of small sports cars using a 750cc engine. This is one of them – but it seems like everyone I come across has a different body on it. The body here was evidently designed by Giovanni Michelotti. I’m not sure who built it. It kind of resembles a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – or at least that’s what I can see inspiring it. “Bialbero” refers to the engine being a “twin cam.”

1953 was Moretti’s first go at racing. Since the 750 was the larger of the two engines they used in their cars, it was a natural fit for the race tracks. This car was owned by the French importer for Moretti who raced it a little bit in Venezuela (where he was from), but  he preferred Ferraris and saved them for the big events, like Le Mans.

He sold it to one of his countrymen, who raced it until 1960. The car returned to Europe in the 1980s when it was restored and it was restored again a few years ago. Morettis are rare, but this is probably the only one bodied like this (just guessing). It should sell for between $315,000-$370,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Coys nice auction lineup.

1910 Peerless Victoria

1910 Peerless Model 29 Park Phaeton/Victoria by Brewster

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2013

1910 Peerless Model 29 Park PhaetonVictoria by Brewster

The early years of the automobile industry saw a lot of scrambling among manufacturers to decided who stood where with regards to prestige and customer base. Peerless ended up on top, at least in the prestige category and at least in the early years of the market. They were among the three famed American “P”s – Peerless, Packard and Pierce-Arrow.

And it was cars like this strange coachbuilt luxury convertible that put Peerless at the top. This was not a practical car by any means – it’s obviously to be driven by a chauffeur, and the “convertible top” really doesn’t do you much good if it starts raining (unless you’re driving in reverse).

The Model 29 was introduced halfway through the 1910 model year (and may have only been built through 1911). It features a 6.7-liter straight-four making 25 horsepower. The custom bodywork is by Brewster – who provided many early extravagant coachbuilt bodies for wealthy customers in the New York area. And this car spent some time in the New York City area. It was owned by Doris Duke, a wealthy heiress, and it was apparently in the family of her husband, the Vice President of Peerless – perhaps from new.

The car has known ownership history since and is coming from a European museum collection. Close inspection by experts revealed that this car might be in original condition – possibly being “refurbished as needed” throughout its life – but never outright restored. I’d imagine it’s the only Model 29 in existence with this coachwork – and perhaps the only one like it built. It is expected to sell for between $300,000-$350,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this awesome Bonhams sale.

Update: Sold $176,000.

Update II: Sold for $231,000 at Bonhams Simeone Foundation sale.

1906 Autocar

1906 Autocar Type 10 Runabout

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2013

1906 Autocar Type 10 Runabout

Photo – Bonhams

Autocar, a company that is still around producing trucks, adopted the name Autocar in 1899. Their first car was introduced in 1900. In 1907, they started building trucks and by 1911, that’s all they were making. You’d think, in the past 100 years, they may have thought about a name change, but no, Autocar remains Autocar, even though they haven’t built a car in 102 years.

The Type 10 was introduced in 1904. It uses a flat-twin engine (at a time when most companies were using an inline configuration) making 12 horsepower. It was practical and reliable and over 1,000 were built by the end of production.

The car was restored sometime around 1967. A collector acquired it in ’67 and owned it until 2008 when it went to a European collection. Because it spent the past 50 years in museums, it remains in remarkable condition. This car should sell for between $40,000-$50,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams in California.

Update: Sold $46,200.

One-Off Ferrari 250 Europa by Vignale

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2013

1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale

Photo – Bonhams

The Ferrari 250 Europa was the first road car variant of the Ferrari 250 – the model line that pushed Ferrari over the edge from race car builder who built road cars to road car builder who builds race cars.

This particular Europa was bodied with a one-off body by Vignale and shown at the 1954 New York Auto Show. It was purchased from Ferrari by Luigi Chinetti – the longtime U.S. importer for Ferrari and the man responsible for introducing the brand to America. He had the car painted red for the auto show. Chinetti owned the car for about five years before selling it. It bounced around and ended up in California – where it was painted purple and a Chevy V8 was installed.

A model-correct, 200 horsepower 3.0-liter V12 is in the car now. The car was bought in unrestored, original and slightly modified/damaged repaired condition in 2004-ish by Tom Shaughnessy, renowned Ferrari rescuer.

In 2009, the car went to its current owner in Switzerland, who painstakingly restored it to the exact look it had on the Auto Show stand in 1954. Only 20 250 Europas were built (not to be confused with the 250 Europa GT). Only one of them has a body that looks like this. It is expected to sell for between $2,800,000-$3,400,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams’ Quail Lodge Auction.

Update: Sold $2,805,000.

Update II: Sold, RM Sotheby’s “Driven by Disruption,” December 2015, $3,300,000.

Update III: Sold, RM Sotheby’s “Leggenda e Passione,” September 2017, $3,440,850.

A Beautiful American Underslung

1914 American Underslung Model 644 Four-Passenger Touring

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2013

1914 American Underslung Model 644 Four-Passenger Touring

American Underslungs are, I think, some of the prettiest pre-WWI American cars built. They are very distinctive with their low-slung chassis (hence the name) and those big, almost over-sized, white tires. Not to mention the gigantic emblem on the grille and the way the front fenders curve at sharp angles and fall dramatically back toward the passengers.

Even though this is a moderately big car, it still seems sporty. Strangely, it only accommodates four passengers, despite being a longish-wheelbase touring car. The low center of gravity (the frame is below the axles) provided for awesome handling, yet the bottom of the car was still high enough to scrape atop ruts ground into early, dirt roads. It might not look sporty, but many regard this as “Sports Car Genesis.”

The American Motor Car Company of Indianapolis built more traditional, upright touring cars when they were founded in 1906 (we featured one of them here). Underslungs came a year later. This particular car is from 1914, the last year the company was in business. It was part of the Harrah Collection for a long time before going to Europe in the 1980s. In about 2005, it was acquired by the current owner. The body was restored under Harrah’s ownership, but the interior is all-original, which is incredible. The engine is a 7.4-liter T-head six-cylinder making 60 horsepower.

These cars are very rare – most are in museums, so getting the chance to buy one almost never happens. It sucks I don’t have the money. Only three four-passenger Underslungs are known to still exist. This one should sell for between $550,000-$700,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams in Carmel, California.

Update: Sold $748,000.

1971 Bizzarrini Prototype

1971 Bizzarrini 128 Sport Barchetta

Offered by Russo & Steele | Monterey, California | August 15-17, 2013

1971 Bizzarrini 128 Sport Barchetta

Ever seen this car before? Me neither. Giotto Bizzarrini was active in automotive design and engineering back in the day. Specifically, he got his start at Alfa Romeo in the mid-1950s. He wasn’t there long before he jumped ship to Ferrari (you can thank him for the 250 GTO). In the early-1960s, he worked for Iso Rivolta.

In 1964, he left Iso and founded his own company, Bizzarrini S.p.A. He wanted to build race cars and as an aside to that, he built precious few road cars. This lasted until 1969. Strangely, however, once his company shut down, Bizzarrini continued to churn out cars – and still does today – mostly one-off prototypes. In the early-1970s, he built a pair “single-seat competition barchettas” – and this is the prototype (the other is a race car).

Though titled as a 1971, the car was built in 1972 and shown at the 1972 Turin Motor Show. The engine is a 1.3-liter straight-four from Fiat. It makes 130 horsepower and can power the car up to 140 mph.

The race car variant is in the Italian National Car Museum in Turin – making this 128 the only one in private hands. And it can be yours. No pre-sale estimate is available. Click here for more info and here for more from Russo & Steele in Monterey.

Update: Sold $77,000.

Update: Sold, Bonhams Retromobile 2019, $110,907.

Cadillac Military Roadster

1914 Cadillac Model 30 Military Sport Roadster by Schutte

Offered by RM Auctions | Plymouth, Michigan | July 27, 2013

1914 Cadillac Military Sport Roadster by Schutte

Well this car got lucky. I wouldn’t have featured it, but some auction houses are taking their sweet time publishing their online catalogs (thank you, Mecum, for being on the ball!). Anyway, at the last second, I chose between this and another car. Why’d I pick this over the other? Two reasons: 1. I asked somebody to pick for me. And 2. This car has been in the same family for 98 years! So when was the last time you saw one like this come up for sale?

Let’s talk about that 98 years: first of all, incredible. Secondly, this is not the original body on this car. The Cadillac Model 30 was introduced in 1909. It uses a 6.0-liter straight-four engine making 40-50 horsepower. In 1915, the Model 30 was given a V-8. The original body was a roadster body. But during WWI, the Schutte Body Company displayed a range of new bodies at the New York Auto Show.

So the owner, whose car was a little long-in-the-tooth style-wise, liked what he or she saw. The so-called “Military Sport” body was installed on this car between 1917 and 1919 (so it’s pretty close to original). It was called that because it was popular with military officers during the war. It was basic and “patriotic” due to its use of few materials (and lack of features).

This is the only Cadillac known to have a Military Sport body on it. The restoration is brand new and it’s in excellent, usable condition. Here’s a chance for a one-of-a-kind car. It should sell for between $125,000-$175,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of RM’s St. John’s sale.

Update: Sold $110,000.

Ferrari 750 Monza

1954 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider by Scaglietti

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 17, 2013

1954 Ferrari 750 Monza Spider by Scaglietti

Ferrari has always been a company focused on racing. The saying has always been “they build road cars so they can afford to go racing.” And it’s true. While, this is a race car, it was successful because of earlier race cars.

To wit: the engine. Alberto Ascari’s second Formula One championship was at the helm of a Lampredi straight-four-powered car. Because this engine was so successful in F1, Ferrari decided to install it in their sports racing cars, beginning in 1953. The 750 Monza (which used a 250 horsepower 3.0-liter variant of the engine) was the fourth iteration of what is now referred to as the “Monza” line of sports cars. It was built for 1954 only.

This car has known ownership history from new and was driven by Mike Hawthorn at Goodwood during its first racing season. It was then acquired by Jaguar and used for testing purposes (for comparisons to the D-Type). They sold it to one of their drivers (1951 Le Mans-winner Peter Whitehead) who sold it to Jack Brabham, who took it to Australia and hired drivers to race it in the 1955 season down under.

It entered its first historic race in 1987 and has been used and cared for since. It has been restored at some point and is a driveable and raceable race car. It is among the first of the 35 750 Monzas built and should bring about $2.5 million at auction. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Mecum’s Monterey lineup.

Update: Failed to sell (high bid of $3,250,000).

S/N: 0462MD