Four Cars from Rétromobile

Four Cars from Rétromobile

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 9, 2018


1947 Dolo Type JB10

Photo – Artcurial

There were a lot of car companies that popped up after World War Two showing prototypes at auto shows and then promptly disappearing. Dolo was one such marque. Usually these cars exist only in grainy scans of old sales literature developed when the company’s founders thought they had a chance to make it big.

The JB10 was shown by Brun, Dolo & Galtier at the 1947 Paris Auto Salon. It was a front-wheel drive car powered by a 592cc flat engine making 23 horsepower. I don’t believe the engine is still with this car, however. The roof was a Plexiglas dome, which is kind of weird. The company went around taking orders (and payments) but never honored them. The company did build a second car but its whereabouts are unknown.

This car was discovered in storage at the Montlhéry circuit and entered the collection it is being offered from in 1967. It’s all-original and was originally blue. As a one-off it should bring between $7,500-$15,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $33,585.


1931 Salomon Prototype

Photo – Artcurial

Jean-Marie-Jules Salomon co-founded Le Zebre early in his career. He later worked for Citroen and then Peugeot. From 1928 through 1939 he worked at Rosengart. While at Rosengart (which did pretty well building light cars themselves), Salomon designed and built his own cyclecar prototype.

This light, two-seat roadster features a tubular axle and front brakes. The body is aluminium, which wasn’t all that common in 1931. It’s powered by a two-stroke single-cylinder engine. It’s in pretty original condition and would require a full restoration (it’s missing things like gauges, the entire floor, you know… some basics). But still, it’s a unique car from the 1930s and it can be yours for between $12,000-$18,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $7,301.


1927 Taupin 1100 Prototype

Photo – Artcurial

Here’s yet another one-off prototype car from this same collection. Not much is known about this history of this car, other than it seems to be assembled and custom made. The radiator is from a Darmont. The engine is a SCAP unit of 1.1-liters.

It was built by an actual engineer, so there was some thought put into it. The wheels have independent suspension, so it sits very low. It’s almost like the grandfather of the Ariel Atom… if an Atom only had three wheels. Customized by the owner to add such creature comforts as a cushion to sit on, this thing is largely original and just might be in running condition. It should cost the next owner between $6,000-$9,500. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $23,363.


1948 De Coucy Prototype Record

Photo – Artcurial

What we have here was someone’s – a Count de Coucy, to be more specific – idea of a land speed record car. A trained engineer, de Coucy built some high-revving engines of his own design – we’re talking engines that revved to 10,000 rpm in the 1930s. In 1935, he designed a 500cc engine capable of that 10,000 rpm.

Unfortunately, he was arrested by the Germans during WWII as a part of the Resistance and then his workshop was bombed in 1943. In 1948 he took the chassis from a Formula One car he was working on and built a single-seater enclosed record car. The 500cc engine never made it in, but it now carries a 1.1-liter straight-four instead (which is not completely installed). The car was never run and is being sold in hopes that someone will pick up the cause. It should bring between $6,000-$9,500. Click here for more info and here for more from Artcurial.

Update: Sold $55,488.

1931 Oakland Sedan

1931 Oakland Model 301 Custom Sedan

Offered by Mecum | Houston, Texas | April 6-8, 2017

Photo – Mecum

Edward Murphy and Alanson Brush got together in 1906 after one of Brush’s designs was rejected by Cadillac. They started building their own car in Pontiac, Michigan, in 1907. But before production really gained any steam, Brush left to found his own company and Murphy died. Enter William Durant who scooped up Oakland and added it to GM’s growing stable of brands.

Some early Oaklands were rather large, but the company was a mid-range GM brand, slotting in between Chevrolet and Buick. In 1926, Pontiac was introduced and it outsold the Oakland it was marketed alongside. 1931 was the final year for Oakland and the Model 301 was the only model produced that year. Six body styles were offered, with the Custom Sedan being the largest and most expensive. It’s powered by a 4.1-liter V-8 making 85 horsepower, so it’s no slouch. The car is also much larger than the picture above does justice as its 117″ wheelbase is five inches longer than that of a new Ford Explorer.

This car is in beautiful shape with two-tone green paint and gray interior. Pontiacs outsold Oaklands by a wide margin, making this car extremely rare – as are most Oaklands built in the final years of the marque. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum.

Update: Sold $30,000.

Duesenberg J-420

1931 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Sedan by Murphy

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | September 3, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Numerologists take note! The 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight engine that powers all standard Duesenberg Model Js displaces 420 cubic inches. And this car carries engine number J420. It’s a sign.

This car was sold new in Michigan and was a Murphy Convertible Sedan when new. However, this car carried a different engine than the one it has now. The second owner acquired this car after WWII and it is believed that he swapped the engine out.

It had a bunch of other owners over the years, spending time in the Imperial Palace Collection and the ownership of mega-collector John O’Quinn. It has been in private ownership since the dispersion of O’Quinn’s collection. The restoration is described as “older” but it looks fantastic – not that it matters much, because, despite their beauty, these are drivers’ cars. This one should bring between $800,000-$1,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $880,000.

Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix

1931 Bugatti Type 51 Grand Prix

Offered by Bonhams | Monterey, California | August 19, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

The Bugatti Type 35 (and ensuing series) is one of the most famous Grand Prix Bugattis, launching in 1924. For 1931, Bugatti upped the game, introducing the Type 51 (which to the untrained eye looks identical to the earlier cars). The Type 51 would give way to the Type 54 and later, Type 59.

It is powered by a supercharged 2.3-liter straight-eight that makes 160 horsepower and 180 with the supercharger engaged. It was a true race car, and the competition history of this example includes:

  • 1931 Monaco Grand Prix – 11th, DNF (with Earl Howe)
  • 1932 Monaco Grand Prix – 4th (with Howe)
  • 1933 Monaco Grand Prix – 12th, DNF (with Howe)
  • 1933 French Grand Prix – 9th, DNF (with Howe)

It raced through 1937 before being damaged and sidelined. Years later, the current owner acquired it (in 1983). It has been relatively hidden since then – but has recently been freshened so it does run and drive. It is one of the first of 40 built and was raced competitively in period by Earl Howe (and was driven by Tazio Nuvolari at some point, too). The fantastic history of this car leads it to be one of those “inquire for the pre-sale estimate” types. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $4,000,000.

Duesenberg J-451

1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster by Derham

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 19-20, 2016

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Derham Tourster is one of a few body styles of the Model J Duesenberg that are highly sought after (as if there is a Duesenberg that isn’t). Only eight were built originally and over the past few years, two others have come up for auction (with a further two that sported recreated Tourster bodies also coming up for sale).

The great thing about the Tourster is that its second windshield actually rolls up and down instead of flipping up and out of the way like most Dual Cowl Phaetons. Derham, of Rosemont, Pennsylvania, was the sole constructor of this beautiful body. The engine underneath is the standard Model J 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower.

This car was sold new to Chicago, where it remained with a variety of owners until departing the city in 1948. It has had even more owners since, with the current owner residing overseas. The restoration is older but it shows well and the color combination is brilliant. The average price for the last two Toursters to have sold is about a million dollars, so look for a similar amount here. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,320,000.

REO Royale

1931 REO Royale Sport Victoria Coupe

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Aarhus, Denmark | May 28-29, 2016

Photo - Silverstone Auctions

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

Ransom E. Olds left Oldsmobile in 1905 after only eight years at the helm. He immediately founded REO which would actually last until 1975, producing only trucks after WWII. In the 1930s, many high-end American car companies were producing big, beautiful cars. REO wasn’t really known as a high-end company, but they jumped into that market with the Royale in 1931.

The model would last through 1934 and was offered in different body styles. The 1931 Model 35 range could be had as a Sedan, Victoria or four-passenger Coupe. It is powered by a 5.9-liter straight-eight making 125 horsepower. It’s no slouch when compared to its rivals. In fact, its styling is on par or better than some of its rivals.

This car was actually sold new in Denmark and was at one point actually used by the King (though it was never owned by the Royal Family). The current owner acquired it in 1981 and set about on a five year restoration. It is said that this is one of four such cars in Europe and it should sell for between $90,000-$105,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold, listed for $92,500.

Duesenberg J-394

1931 Duesenberg Model J Tourster

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | September 3, 2015

Photo - Auctions America

Photo – Auctions America

There was a time when Duesenbergs were just used cars. Some people knew the value of them, but from about the outbreak of WWII through the early 1970s, these were just big, old cars. Only in the past 40 years have they really become known as the pinnacle of automotive achievement.

Fortunately, there were people who knew this all along and hoarded the things in fields and barns, protecting them. Some of the bodies were lost along the way, but many of the engines survived. This car has a genuine Model J 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower. The engine number, 394, is listed as “renumbered.” But it is a true engine.

The chassis has been “remanufactured” (and we don’t know if that means it’s one of the replica chassis or just built from scratch). The current owner has owned this car for many years and, as you can tell, it has been his project car. He basically took one of those engines that survived and decided to get it back on the road. Heroic.

The body is actually a Tourster replica that was built much more recently and is not an authentic Derham Tourster, a car very desirable and expensive. This car might look a little awkward but it’s still a work in progress with original parts mixed in with those that have been remanufactured (the interior is gorgeous by the way). This is a great way to get a Duesenberg without paying “full” price. It should bring between $275,000-$350,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $290,000.

A Pretty LaSalle

1931 LaSalle Series 345A Seven-Passenger Touring by Fleetwood

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Plymouth, Michigan | July 25, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

When Alfred P. Sloan took over at General Motors, he instituted many things that would transform the industry. One such initiative was the companion marque program, where each existing GM make (sans Chevrolet) would be allotted a secondary marque to fill price gaps between other makes. Cadillac’s companion make was LaSalle.

LaSalle’s were essentially “baby Cadillacs” and they were not a commercial success. But they did have a profound impact on GM. While the cars were built by Cadillac, their styling was no longer done in the engineering department. Instead, Harley Earl and his gang were given their own department. All LaSalle’s were eight-cylinder cars. This Series 345A features a 5.8-liter V-8 making 95 horsepower.

The body is actually by Fleetwood – it was one of five body styles offered by LaSalle in 1931 that were built by Cadillac’s in-house coachbuilder (of the 12 total body styles they offered that year). It cost $2,345 in 1931. This is an actual Fleetwood Seven-Passenger Touring body, but it likely did not come on this chassis originally.

LaSalle was phased out after 1940 and while the marque isn’t exceptionally rare today, this is easily the best-looking LaSalle I’ve ever seen. This is thought to be one of less than 12 of this style to survive. It is fresh off restoration and should sell for between $80,000-$100,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $77,000.

Mercedes-Benz 770K

1931 Mercedes-Benz 770K Series I Cabriolet D by Sindelfingen

Offered by Bonhams | Stuttgart, Germany | March 28, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Here it is. The biggest Benz of the era. The 770 was introduced in 1930 at the Paris Motor Show and was produced in two series until 1943 (Series I cars produced into 1938 before Series II cars came about). And yes, this was produced well into World War II. Why? One reason, perhaps, is that these were the favored machines of top Nazi officials.

The engine is a massive 7.7-liter straight-eight making 150 horsepower. This kompressor “K” (or “supercharged) model makes 200 horsepower. An overwhelming majority of 770s were supercharged (only 13 of the 205 total built were not). Torque was impressive: 395 lb/ft at a lowly 1500rpm – that’s a lot of low-end grunt. Imagine what fun these cars are when you put the power down.

This Cabriolet D is one of 18 produced and was sold new to a German actor in Berlin. When he fled Germany in 1933 after the rise of Hitler, he brought this beautiful Benz with him to Hollywood. It spent much of the rest of its life in the U.S., including time in the Blackhawk Collection. It returned to Germany in 2004 where it was restored for a second time.

This early 770K is an amazing car. It is not a model that comes up for sale often at all, so this is a unique chance. To get your hands on it, it will run you between $2,500,000-$3,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,506,821.

Duesenberg J-395

1931 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe by Murphy

Offered by RM Auctions | Fort Worth, Texas | May 2, 2015

Photo - RM Auctions

Photo – RM Auctions

Here is another Duesenberg from the Andrews Collection. This is also a highly desirable version. The Disappearing Top Convertible Coupe is a very attractive, very sporty body style and it was done by the Walter M. Murphy Company, the most prolific Duesenberg coachbuilder.

Unlike the car we featured a week ago, this is an un-supercharged Model J, meaning that the 6.9-liter straight-eight puts on “only” 265 horsepower. This car has an interesting history as, for a large portion of its life, it was in collection of Pacific Auto Rentals – who provided cars for movies. This car has a number of credits to its name, regularly showing up on screen between 1949 and the late 1970s.

In the 80s, it became part of the Imperial Palace Collection and was eventually acquired by Dean Kruse of Kruse Auctions. It has been in the Andrews Collection likely since 2008, when it sold at an RM sale for $2,640,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $3,520,000.