Al Jolson’s Mercedes

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/120/180 Sports 4 by Sindelfingen

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

I know we featured a similar-looking Mercedes-Benz S-Type just a week ago but this… this is one of my favorite cars of all time. This is Al Jolson’s Mercedes and it is wonderful. The S-Type was sort of the entry-level model of Mercedes-Benz’s first halo car, introduced in 1926. The cars only get better as they added letters: the SS, the SSK, and the SSKL.

Under that long hood is a 6.8-liter straight-six. Under normal operating conditions, it makes 120 horsepower – but there is a supercharger strapped to the motor that, when engaged, pushes the power to 180. The body is a two-door, four-seat tourer by Mercedes’ in-house coachbuilder, Sindelfingen. The cream exterior with red interior is a great combo and the low-slung dramatic stance this car has is just incredible.

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

We never use more than one photo of a car, but it’s impossible not to here. I’d use all of them, but RM Sotheby’s would probably get angry, so just go check out the rest of them here on their site.

According to its third owner, famed American designer Brooks Stevens, this car was given to Mercedes-Benz factory racing driver Rudolf Caracciola when new. But it’s first traceable owner was none other than Al Jolson, one of the biggest stars of stage and screen (and radio) in the 1920s. He owned the car until 1947 when Stevens bought it. Stevens owned the car until 1990 when he sold it (and then the new owner restored it).

About 10 years ago (give or take) this car was offered at the Auto Collections (or the Blackhawk Collection, I can’t quite recall which, but aren’t they essentially the same thing?). It was there for a while and that’s when it became my “lottery car.” It’s a spectacular looking example of one of the finest pre-war sporting tourers money could buy. And imagining it being manhandled around Jazz Age Hollywood by one of its top stars just adds to its appeal.

RM Sotheby’s is estimating that it will bring $3,500,000-$4,000,000. On a related note, can anyone lend me $4 million? You can see more from this sale here.

Update: Not sold.

Mercedes-Benz S-Type Sports

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer by Glaser

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 19, 2017

Photo – Gooding & Company

The Mercedes-Benz S-Type is one of Mercedes’ most impressive vehicles. It was the foundation for the legendary SSK and SSKL racing cars. Consider it the Jazz Age equivalent of the current Mercedes-AMG GT – you know, if the GT could be had with two or four doors and was, you know, gorgeous.

Built between 1927 and 1933, the S-Type was a performer in its day. It’s powered by a supercharged 6.8-liter straight-six that makes 180 horsepower with the supercharger activated. The body here is a one-off by Glaser and it was white with red interior much earlier in its life.

The current family that owns this car acquired it in 1964 (!) and it was first restored in the mid-1960s to the color scheme it now carries. A second restoration was completed in 2013. The auction catalog states that 146 S-Types were built and only 58 remain. A few have changed hands in the last few years, but they are rarely attainable. It’s a pretty awesome machine that will grab everyone’s attention wherever you take it… if you can afford the $5,000,000-$6,000,000 price tag. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Company.

Update: Not sold.

1928 Willys-Knight

1928 Willys-Knight Model 70A Saloon

Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | May 17, 2017

Photo – Brightwells

Willys-Knight was a sub-brand of the Willys-Overland company. John North Willys’ little empire started when he purchased Overland in 1907. Many marques followed and his legacy lives on today in the form of Jeep. The Willys-Knight was available from 1914 through 1933.

As was the case with every “-Knight” suffixed automobile marque, the Willys-Knight is powered by a Knight sleeve-valve engine. In this case, it’s a 3.0-liter straight-six making 53 horsepower. The Model 70 was introduced in 1926 and could be had through 1930. Seven body styles were offered in 1928 with this, the sedan, being the most expensive, costing $1,495 when new.

This example was sold new in the U.K. and has remained there its entire life. The current owner acquired it in 2011 and has used it regularly. The body is fabric, which looks very nice and it sports four-wheel brakes. It’s a driver and should bring between $16,275-$18,775. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.

Update II: Sold, Brightwells Bicester June 2017, $11,645.

1928 Tracta

1928 Tracta D2 Sport

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 9, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

SA des Automobiles Tracta was a French car company founded by engineer Jean-Albert Grégoire in 1926. Tracta built some of the first successful front-wheel drive vehicles anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, business was never super profitable and Grégoire shuttered his company in 1934 to become a design consultant.

Interestingly, a front-wheel drive Tracta won its class at Le Mans in 1927 and continued to compete there through 1930. This car is powered by a 1.6-liter straight-four from SCAP. The body on this car looks really long, but it’s a two-door sports car and it is eligible for the Le Mans Classic.

This example was sold new in the U.K. – one of just a few ever sold there. It was restored (mostly, anyway – the interior looks original) in the 1980s while owned by a front-wheel drive specialist. It’s a driver and will be a talking point wherever it goes. Tractas were never built in large numbers and don’t change hands often. This one should bring between $64,000-$85,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Bonhams’ lineup.

Update: Sold $63,938.

Mercedes-Benz Type S

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/120/180 Supercharged Sports Tourer by Erdmann & Rossi

Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Ye Gods! I have to admit, this car is near the top of amazing cars we’ve ever featured. There is something just so alluring… so… bad ass about these big, early Mercedes-Benz Tourers. There is a mystique here that few cars can match. This is probably also why they so very rarely come up for sale.

Mercedes and Benz joined forces in 1926 and that same year they introduced a model called the Typ S (or Type S or S-Type… you’ll inexplicably find different names for the same cars depending on the auction house). The Type S was built through 1930 and it gave rise to the Type SS and the legendary SSK. The low slung chassis of the Type S is powered by a 6.7-liter straight-six and makes 120 horsepower – or 180 with the supercharger engaged. That’s pretty impressive for 1926… as was the price: $7,000 as a bare engine/chassis. Over 100 mph was possible as well.

The body is by coachbuilder Erdmann & Rossi and is original to this car (as is the engine). It was delivered new to the U.S. and was restored in the mid-1990s. The car’s been in Europe for some time, but is being sold again in the U.S., where it spent much of its life. Mercedes-Benz only built 174 examples of the Type S making it quite rare. It’s a gorgeous beast of a car and it’s entirely usable. Get it while you can because it could be years before another example hits the market. But it won’t come cheap. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $4,812,500.

Lea-Francis Hyper

1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre Type S Hyper Sports Two-Seater

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | June 24, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Trivia: what marque produced the first British production car with a supercharger? Bentley? Nope. It was Lea-Francis and their Hyper 1½-liter Type S. It was introduced in 1928 and was built through 1931. Only 185 were built.

It is powered by a 1.5-liter straight-four that has been supercharged. I can’t tell you how much power it makes but there is a quote in the lot description that says it will cruise comfortably at 70 mph. So it has plenty of power, I guess. This car was actually a factory racer, having competed in the 1928 Ards Tourist Trophy race, a race that was won by a sister machine.

The car has been completely restored and, strangely, is being offered by the family of the man who raced it in the Ards TT (even though they had to reacquire the car at auction in the early 1990s). It’s a solid competitor to a Frazer Nash, should you seek out on-track competition once purchased. If you’re interested, it should bring between $230,000-$320,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $210,135.

Jowett Sports

1928 Jowett 7/17 Sports

Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 5, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Benjamin and William Jowett (along with a man named Arthur Lamb) founded Jowett in 1901 as a cycle manufacturer. Automobiles went on sale in 1906 and Jowett, unlike most British manufacturers, stayed independent their entire life before going out of business in 1955. Among their most famous products was the sporty Jupiter from the 1950s.

What we have here is a very rare, early car. You don’t see many pre-1930 Jowetts. The 7/17 is powered by a 907cc flat-twin making 17 horsepower. It’s a light, small car with very sporty bodywork that was applied in the 1970s (the car was originally a Tourer). Although the body is not original, it is said that it was constructed with “mostly Jowett parts.”

This model went on sale in 1919 and lasted through 1936, albeit with changes over the years. This is the second time this car has come up for sale in the last two years: it sold for $38,500 in 2014 and is now estimated to bring between $28,000-$31,000. It is thought that this is the only pre-war Jowett in the U.S. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $34,100.

Chandler Six

1928 Chandler Special Six Sedan

Offered by Mecum | Portland, Oregon | June 17-18, 2016

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum

The Chandler Motor Company of Cleveland, Ohio, was founded in 1913 by Frederick Chandler after he and some other executives left Lozier. The company built quality cars priced in the middle of the market. If the company were still around, I would guess they’d be a competitor to Buick (they were just slightly less expensive than Buick in ’28).

In 1929, Chandler was bought out by Hupmobile and the marque was retired. This car is powered by a straight-six and is listed in the catalog as a Chandler Six. But in 1928, they offered both the Special Six and the Big Six. I’m sort of just assuming this was the entry-level Special Six, which could be had in a bunch of body styles and the five-passenger Sedan cost $995 when new.

Chandlers used wood frames, which is one reason the cars didn’t survive quite as well as some of their competitors. They are much rarer than they should be, considering they sold over 20,000 cars in 1927 alone. The engine was redone in 2012 and this would be a nice, affordable classic. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $13,000.

630K by Saoutchik

1928 Mercedes-Benz 630K La Baule Transformable by Saoutchik

Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 28, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

We’ve featured a Mercedes-Benz 630K before and this car has much more attractive body work – from Jacques Saoutchik of all people, the man responsible for some of the most sought-after designs to ever come out of France. The 630K was the new name of the Mercedes 24/100/140 after the merger of Daimler and Benz.

Power here is supplied by a 6.2-liter supercharged straight-six – it puts out 100 horsepower normally and 138 once the supercharger is engaged. The “K” variant of the Typ 630 is the short-wheelbase version. Top speed was over 90 mph.

Only 267 Model K Mercedes’ were produced between 1926 and 1932. The early history of this car is not known, but it is believed that it has been in North America for many years. It was restored a while back, but not widely shown, meaning it is eligible for most major car shows. It’s a rare treat – Saoutchik body on a high-performance Benz chassis. It should bring between $1,000,000-$1,300,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $973,500.

Nash Special Six

1928 Nash Special Six Cabriolet

Offered by Mecum | Las Vegas, Nevada | February 27-28, 2015

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum Auctions

Nash Motors Company was founded by Charles W. Nash, a former G.M. president, in 1916 when he acquired the Thomas B. Jeffrey Company. Nash branded cars went on sale in 1917. The company would  go on to become part of American Motors, with the Nash name disappearing after 1957.

This Special Six wears an attractive body from the Seaman Body Corporation, which from 1919 was part of Nash. The Special Six nameplate dates back to 1925 and lasted through 1929. It was Nash’s mid-range model for 1928 (a year in which they only offered six-cylinder models). It was slotted between the Standard and Advanced Six models.

The engine is a 3.7-liter straight-six making 52 horsepower at 2600 rpm. This Model 341 Cabriolet retailed for $1,290 in 1928. It has a rumble seat and rear-mounted spare tire. It shows very nice. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $17,000.