Pre-War Divco

1931 Divco Model H Milk Truck

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 5-6, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The classic milk truck, the Divco milk truck, was introduced in the late 1930s. It had a streamlined design with a waterfall-ish front grille and would be produced into the 1960s with a few design tweaks but the overall profile remaining essentially the same. That’s what most people picture when they hear “Divco.”

But the company was actually founded in 1926 by George Bacon, an engineer at Detroit Electric who wanted to try a gasoline engine in their delivery vehicles. The company balked so he set out on his own with the Detroit Industrial Vehicles Company. Earlier Divcos, like this one, featured a snub nose design but looked much more similar to other trucks and cars of the era.

They still had a step-through design with a flat, low floor. This one is powered by an inline-four and has had its rear cargo area converted to bench seating. It’s selling without reserve. Click here for more info.

One-Off Hampton

1931 Hampton 16HP Open Sports Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | Beaulieu, U.K. | September 10, 2022

Photo – Bonhams

Hampton Cars was a British automobile manufacturer that existed from 1912 into the 1930s. It’s kind of remarkable that this is the first car from this marque that I can recall coming up for auction in the last decade. And they were around for about 20 years!

The company was originally founded by William Paddon in 1912, but they were out of business by 1915, with very few cars built. Hampton reappeared in 1919. Four years later they were selling 300 cars a year, but bankruptcy followed in 1924… and again in 1925. They reformed once more but were done for good sometime around 1930. About 1,100 Hampton cars were built, and only five are thought to exist. Well that explains that.

This particular car was built in 1931 after Hampton’s final bankruptcy. It was constructed by/for former company GM William Milward. Right before they went out of business, they planned to produce 50 independently sprung chassis and ordered 100 engines from Rohr in Germany. Only one such chassis arrived before both Hampton and Rohr went out of business.

So Milward left the company upon its demise, taking all of the parts with him. This car was the result. It’s powered by a 2.3-liter inline-eight paired with a ZF gearbox. It has known ownership history since new, having been with the current owning family since 1961. The car has not been used in some time, so it’ll need a recommissioning. The estimate is $30,000-$35,000. Click here for more info.

Duesenberg J-164

1931 Duesenberg Model J Arlington Sedan by Derham

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | September 3, 2022

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

There have been some great Duesenberg sedans coming out of the woodwork this year. This four-door sedan features blind rear quarters (no rearward side windows), which was sometimes called a Club Sedan. Derham called theirs the “Arlington,” which sounds much more dignified.

Five Derham Arlington sedans were built, four of them on the short-wheelbase Model J chassis like this one. And power came from a 6.9-liter inline-eight rated at 265 horsepower. This one was purchased new by a Peruvian singer who likely kept it at his New York home before taking it to other countries. It later spent time under ownership in Paris and Cairo. Exotic.

The car came back to the U.S. in 1957. It has not been restored but was apparently repainted at least once, though it isn’t made all that clear in the catalog when that happened. No estimate is available, but you can read more here.

Isotta 8A Landaulet Imperiale

1931 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Landaulet Imperiale by Castagna

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The 8A was one of the biggest and grandest exotic luxury cars you could buy at the dawn of the Great Depression. This particular car was sold new to a woman in New York City who traded in another 8A on the purchase. It cost her $9,250 in 1931. Yeesh. Definitely a car for running over poor people.

The body is by Castagna, a familiar name on Isotta Fraschini chassis. The body is an all-weather landaulet limousine cabriolet. That’s a lot of descriptors. Landaulet Imperiale sounds fancier. This means that various parts of the top can come off, probably including the very rear portion or the bit over the driver/chauffeur.

Power is provided by a 7.4-liter inline-eight that made about 115 horsepower in base form. The car has known ownership history since new and was restored decades ago. The pre-sale estimate is $275,000-$375,000. Click here to read more.

Update: Sold $368,000.

Marmon Sixteen Limousine

1931 Marmon Sixteen Limousine by LeBaron

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2022

Photo – Mecum

Howard Marmon’s Marmon Motor Car Company was in trouble in 1931 when they launched the Sixteen, which had been in development since 1927. The timing was certainly bad, but the company found the resources to produce the Sixteen for three years before production of cars stopped.

The 8.0-liter V16 was rated at 200 horsepower and made the car one of the best American cars you could buy in 1931. Right there with V16 Cadillacs, big Packards, and Duesenbergs. This car wears limousine coachwork by LeBaron with seating for seven. It’s said to be the only limo example with dividing privacy glass left.

Less than 400 Sixteens were built across three years of production. This car has been a part of a few big collections over the years, and you can read more about it here.

Update: Sold $451,000.

Duesenberg J-448

1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster by Derham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 27, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

It is known that eight Derham Toursters were built on the Duesenberg Model J chassis. This is the fourth that we have featured in the last decade. There have been three other Tourster-style rebodies up for sale in that time as well. So with this car coming to market, you could have had eight in your stable.

The Model J is powered by a 265-horsepower, 6.9-liter inline-eight. The Derham coachwork was styled by Gordon Buehrig, who described it as his favorite Model J. It’s essentially a five-passenger touring car with rear suicide doors and a secondary roll-down windscreen for the rear-seat passengers.

These are sought after cars, even among the Model J crowd. This one was once owned by Andy Granatelli and was restored by RM. It’s been in a private collection for the last 20 years. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $3,415,000.

BMW 3/15 Sports

1931 BMW 3/15 Ihle Sports

Offered by Bonhams | Bicester, U.K. | December 11, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

So we’ve talked about Dixi before and how it was an Austin Seven built under license in Germany. BMW purchased Dixi in late 1928, and Dixis were re-branded as BMWs the following year. They still called them BMW Dixi, although they’d drop the Dixi name sometime around 1930.

This post-Dixi 3/15 was produced in 1931 and was actually coach-built by Gebruder Ihle Karrosseriebau of Bruschal, Germany. It’s a sporty, light two-seater with BMW’s signature twin (not-quite-kidney) grilles.

Power is from a 747cc inline-four, but the power rating is uncertain, as it is not clear if this coachbuilt example was based on a DA-2/4 chassis (15 horsepower) or DA-3 Wartburg chassis (17 horsepower). The DA-3 was the sports version of the 3/15, but a coachbuilt example could’ve come from any model. At any rate, this is a great little early BMW, and for $13,000-$20,000, it seems like a historic bargain. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $37,726.

Duesenberg J-434

1931 Duesenberg Model J Roadster by Packard

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 8, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is kind of an odd combination, a Packard-built body on a Duesenberg. Sure, many old cars had their bodies swapped around. It was usually sedans being rebodied as more desirable convertibles once they became objects of pleasure instead of daily transportation.

But in this case, this Model J was fitted with a period Packard roadster body… in period. By Duesenberg. The story is that a Duesenberg branch purchased a brand new roadster body from Packard before it could be installed on one of their cars and fitted it to a J chassis in 1931. It’s said to be one of very few true roadsters on a Model J chassis. And probably the only Packard-bodied car.

The engine is a 265-horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight, and this particular engine was fitted in this chassis in 1989. The pre-sale estimate is $1,400,000-$1,800,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,650,000.

8 Litre Bentley

1931 Bentley 8 Litre Pointed-Tail Two-Seater

Offered by Gooding & Company | Online | January 28-February 5, 2021

Photo – Gooding & Company

The 8-Litre was the best (and final) model produced by Bentley before being taken over by Rolls-Royce. Just 100 examples were produced between 1930 and 1932, and only 78 are known to still exist. And this is one of them.

It was originally fitted with a Weymann close-coupled saloon body, but that was removed and replaced in the early 1960s. The chassis was shortened at this time, and coachbuilders Hoffman & Burton were enlisted to build a sporting body. They came up with this striking pointed-tail two-seater.

Aside from the rarity, the powerplant is the big story here. As the model’s name suggests, the inline-six displaces eight liters and produced 220 horsepower. This one appears to have known history since new and carries an estimate of $550,000-$825,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Co.

Update: Sold $861,215.

Auburn 8-98A Sedan

1931 Auburn Model 8-98A Sedan

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Somehow we’ve only featured one Auburn car prior to this. Indiana was a force in the early days of the automobile industry, and Auburn was one of its star products, which were offered between 1900 and 1937. They built some pretty fantastic cars in the mid-1930s, but everyone seems to forget that they built “normal”-looking cars like this alongside those wild boattail speedsters.

The 8-98 and the 8-98A were the only models offered in 1931. They were powered by a 98 horsepower straight-eight. Various body styles were available, and this sedan would’ve cost its new owner $1,195. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $19,800.