A Spanish Hispano-Suiza

1933 Hispano-Suiza T56 Bis Berline by Fiol

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Cernobbio, Italy | May 25, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Hispano-Suiza was founded in Barcelona by a Spaniard and a Swiss engineer he met in Paris. In 1911, the company opened a factory near Paris, and most of the company’s well-known and lusted-after cars were produced by the French arm of the company, which became a semi-autonomous company in its own right after 1923.

What we have here is a rare example of what is probably the grandest car produced by the Spanish arm, the 1928 through 1936 T56. It is essentially the same chassis as the H6C that was built in Paris, but these were marketed under the T56 name and built in Spain.

It is powered by an 8.0-liter straight-six that developed somewhere in the neighborhood of 190 horsepower. This, a T56 Bis, is one of about 200 produced, a smaller number than the H6C. It was bodied by Fiol in Barcelona and recently restored. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Not sold.

Duesenberg J-510

1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Sweep Panel Phaeton by LaGrande

Offered by Auctions America | Auburn, Indiana | September 2, 2017

Photo – Auctions America

When one of the most powerful cars on the market isn’t quick enough for you, what do you do? Well you buy the supercharged version, of course! The Model SJ Duesenberg was seriously powerful. Its 6.9-liter Lycoming straight-eight, when supercharged, makes 320 horsepower. That’s what entry-level luxury sports sedans make today.

Top speed on these beasts is said to be about 140 mph. But if you’re not brave enough to take a car with 1920s-era brakes to 140 mph, your best bet is to buy one that has a custom body (as they all did) that looks like it’s already moving quickly. And in this case, that is a LaGrande “Sweep Panel” Phaeton. Only 11 of this body style were produced and only three of those were supercharged. Of those three, only this one is not a Dual Cowl Phaeton, as the rear passenger compartment does not have a second cowl, just a folding windshield.

This car was sold new in New York but it spent many years in Mexico. It was restored by an American owner in 1974 and has been fastidiously maintained since. This is one of only 36 original SJs, making it extremely valuable, as the price reflects: $2,500,000-$3,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,300,000.

Vale Special

1933 Vale Special

Offered by Coys | London, U.K. | October 29, 2016

Photo - Coys

Photo – Coys

This is not an MG, nor is it a Morgan. It’s not even a one-off special, if you can believe it. The Vale Engineering Co. LTD. of London was in existence only briefly, from 1932 to 1936. It was founded by Pownoll Pellew who later in life became a Viscount.

The first cars were based around Triumph mechanicals and this car, like many, is powered by a Triumph-sourced 832cc straight-four which likely produced somewhere around eight taxable horsepower. Thing was, they weren’t powerful or quick enough (top speed was 65 mph) for sports car racing and didn’t offer enough ground clearance for trials racing – but they were good, sporty road cars that exhibited great handling.

Later cars could be had with larger engines, but by then it was too late. In total, 103 Vales were produced and less than 30 survive today. No estimate is provided, likely because they don’t trade hands often enough, but look for it to bring much more than its as-new price of £192. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $29,230.

Duesenberg J-365

1933 Duesenberg Model J Sunroof Berline by Franay

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

Photo - Auctions America

Photo – Auctions America

Many French cars of the 1930s had gorgeous bodies applied to them by the top coachbuilders of France while many American cars of the 1930s had gorgeous bodies applied to them by the top coachbuilders in America. But there was some mixing and matching, like this 1933 Duesenberg Model J with a very rare sedan body that features a sunroof – built by Franay of Paris.

The Model J is powered by a 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight. This particular engine, J-365, was originally fitted with a Kellner Town Car. But in late 1931, it was re-bodied (and the Kellner body was applied to J-516). With the new Franay body, J-365 was featured at the 1931 and 1932 Paris Salon.

It’s first owner, a famous socialite, bought the car in 1934 and it remained in Europe until coming to California in 1971 having had two owners since 1988. Only two Model Js were originally fitted with a sunroof and this one should bring between $750,000-$950,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $715,000.

Two Valuable Alfa Romeo 8Cs

1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring

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

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Alfa Romeo 8C was Alfa’s largest, most powerful, pre-war road car. It was available from 1931 through 1939 and came in a few different models, beginning with the 8C 2300 and culminating in the 8C 2900B. They were powerful, fast, and sporty. In fact, RM says that it was sportiest car money could buy in 1939 – on par or above the Bugatti Atlantic.

This car is powered by a 180 horsepower, supercharged 2.9-liter straight-eight – enough to allow this car to cruise along at over 100 mph all day long. The Carrozzeria Touring-built body is aluminium and it is beautiful. This is a “Lungo” 8C, meaning it has the longer of the two wheelbases offered.

The earliest known history of this car goes back to 1949, when it was racing in Brazil. The body was separated from the chassis and for the next few decades they remained apart in hands of separate owners. By some miracle, they were reunited in Switzerland in the early 1990s. The restoration was completed by the end of 1997 and, remarkably, the current owners have driven more than 12,000 miles in this car – which is a huge number for a car this rare and valuable.

Only 32 8C 2900 chassis were built and twelve of those are Touring Spiders. Of the 12, only seven are on the long-wheelbase chassis. This is where it gets even more mind-blowing: the pre-sale estimate is between $20,000,000-$25,000,000. Incredible all around. Click here for more info and here for more from RM Sotheby’s.

Update: Sold $19,800,000.


1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 20-21, 2016

Photo - Gooding & Company

Photo – Gooding & Company

The 8C 2300 was the initial Alfa Romeo 8C offered and it was introduced in 1931. It was a sports car, through and through, and they were raced heavily in their day – both by the factory and privateers and winning Le Mans four times (in a row!).

The 8C 2300 Monza is a short-chassis model based on a car Alfa ran at Monza in 1931 (basically they just cut some length out of a Spider chassis and put the exhaust down the side of the car). The first Monzas were just shortened Spiders, but for 1932 and 1933, the Monza was a model unto itself. Alfa didn’t build many, but race teams – like Scuderia Ferrari – converted some Spiders into Monzas.

And what we have here is an actual, Alfa Romeo factory-built 8C 2300 Monza. It carries a Brianza-built body and was sold new in Italy. It is one of the last Series 3 Monzas built and is powered by a supercharged 2.9-liter straight-eight making in excess of 180 horsepower (when new, it would’ve have a 2.3-liter engine). Only about 190 8C 2300s were built and very few were factory-build Monzas. This one should bring between $12,000,000-$15,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Company.

Update: Sold $11,990,000.

8C 2300 Monza

1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 20-21, 2016

Photo - Gooding & Company

Photo – Gooding & Company

The 8C 2300 was the initial Alfa Romeo 8C offered and it was introduced in 1931. It was a sports car, through and through, and they were raced heavily in their day – both by the factory and privateers and winning Le Mans four times (in a row!).

The 8C 2300 Monza is a short-chassis model based on a car Alfa ran at Monza in 1931 (basically they just cut some length out of a Spider chassis and put the exhaust down the side of the car). The first Monzas were just shortened Spiders, but for 1932 and 1933, the Monza was a model unto itself. Alfa didn’t build many, but race teams – like Scuderia Ferrari – converted some Spiders into Monzas.

And what we have here is an actual, Alfa Romeo factory-built 8C 2300 Monza. It carries a Brianza-built body and was sold new in Italy. It is one of the last Series 3 Monzas built and is powered by a supercharged 2.9-liter straight-eight making in excess of 180 horsepower (when new, it would’ve have a 2.3-liter engine). Only about 190 8C 2300s were built and very few were factory-build Monzas. This one should bring between $12,000,000-$15,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Company.

Update: Sold $11,990,000.

Duesenberg J-386

1933 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Bohman & Schwartz

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 18-20, 2016

Photo - Mecum

Photo – Mecum

Doesn’t this just look like a classic Hollywood-owned car from the 1930s? It is. It was purchased new by Academy Award-winning actress Marie Dressler and she had a LeBaron Convertible Sedan body fitted to it. She didn’t own it long before it was acquired by producer/director Roy Del Ruth, who took it to Pasadena to have Bohman & Schwartz (the duo that sprang up when Murphy went out of business in 1932) put this awesome body on it.

This is the only Bohman & Schwartz-bodied Convertible Coupe on a LWB Model J chassis. From the side, the car looks gigantic. Most of the LWB cars had big Phaeton bodies on them… not the two-door convertible type. It’s incredibly imposing. It is powered by a 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight engine.

There are only six LWB Convertible Coupe Model Js in general, making this pretty much one of one (which most Model Js were anyway). Bohman & Schwartz only bodied 14 Duesenbergs and 10 of those 14 consisted of modifying existing coachwork. It has been part of the Harrah Collection, the Blackhawk Collection and has resided in the Imperial Palace Collection as well. It’s a fantastic example of 1930s automotive elegance and excellence. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $3,600,000.

Update: Not sold, Mecum Indianapolis 2017, high bid of $3,000,000.

Update: Sold, Mecum Monterey 2018, $3,850,000.

Maserati 8C 3000

1933 Maserati 8C 3000 Biposto

Offered by Bonhams | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Well here is a serious race car. Pre-war Maserati racers were some of the best in their day, competing head-to-head against the likes of Alfa Romeo and Bugatti. The Maserati Tipo 26M gave way to the 8C 2800. When their eight-cylinder engine was upped in capacity, the 8C 3000 was born in 1931. This is the fourth 8C 3000 built and it was built in 1932 for the 1933 season. The 8C 3000 was the final two-seater Grand Prix car Maserati built.

It’s powered by a 2.8-liter straight-eight engine, supercharged to make 220 horsepower. The crankcase for this car was discovered in the 1960s and later an axle was found (along with some other parts). The car is reconstructed of parts but is faithful to the original. There are two existing 8C 3000s that are more complete, but this is still a special car.

It’s one you can use in historic racing – or even on the road. It’s fast, powerful, light and it probably sounds glorious. No pre-sale estimate is being provided so it should be expensive. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,001,000.

Maybach Zeppelin

1933 Maybach DS-8 Zeppelin Cabriolet

Offered by Bonhams | Ebeltoft, Denmark | September 26, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Wilhelm Maybach should be one of everybody’s automotive heroes. The quality of the engineering of his work is incredible. Born in 1846, he worked closely with Gottlieb Daimler in the late 1800s and his engines were in the first Mercedes car. He would later built giant Zeppelin engines for airships before building the cars that bore his name – some of the greatest automobiles ever built.

The Maybach Zeppelin line of cars were introduced in 1928. The DS-8 form was new for 1930 and built through 1938. The engine is a large 7.9-liter V-12  making 200 horsepower. It’s a powerful car for its day and the Zeppelin was the first German car with a V-12. This car features a very ahead of its time eight-speed manual transmission.

This car originally was a seven-passenger convertible limousine for heads of state. In fact, it was gifted on behalf of Adolf Hitler to a Maharajah in India. It eventually made its way back to Switzerland and was sold in 1997 to a German Maybach collector who had the state body removed and this cabriolet specially built. It’s based on a design by Spohn that they never actually built. The restoration was completed in 2005.

This is a massive car in every way. The engine is huge. The car itself is almost 17 feet long. Maybach only built about 1,800 cars between 1921 and 1940 – not many of them were this grand. This car should bring between $3,000,000-$3,600,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Duesenberg SJ-528

1933 Duesenberg Model SJ Riviera Phaeton by Brunn

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 14-15, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

The big-time auctions in Monterey are a little over a month away and there are plenty of big dollar cars already announced, including this SJ Phaeton. SJ Duesenbergs are sought after by all types of collectors. This is a factory-supercharged SJ, not one that had a supercharger bolted on decades later.

With that supercharger, the 6.9-liter straight-eight makes 320 horsepower. The original owner of this car was Jacob Schick, of razor fame. The Brunn body is simple and elegant and it takes more than a quick glance to realize that it does indeed have four doors and is not a Disappearing Top Roadster.

Only 36 Model Js were factory-upgraded to SJ specification and this is one of only three Brunn Riviera Phaetons built. The car has had many owners over the years but does have known ownership history since new. It has also had multiple restorations: 1950, 1983, and ca.2003 (the last of these was by Fran Roxas). This car was sold out of the John O’Quinn collection in 2010 when it brought $1.43 million. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,595,000.