Hispano-Suiza J12

1934 Hispano-Suiza J12 Coupe Chauffeur by Kellner

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Paris, France | January 2024

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The J12 was Hispano-Suiza‘s grandest automobile. It entered production in 1931 in Hispano-Suiza‘s factory in France. Designed by the company’s longtime chief engineer, Marc Birkigt, it was offered to customers as a bare chassis only.

Power is from a 9.4-liter V12 that was rated at 220 horsepower. This was a stout car for the period, right up there with the Model J Duesenberg. This example wears town car coachwork by Kellner and was originally delivered to the owner of Christian Dior.

It has known ownership back to the 1970s and entered its current collection in 2003. It, like a few other cars from this collection, is absent its headlights. But no mention of that – or anything about its mechanical condition, in the catalog (just a passing mention that its restoration needs to be completed). So spend your $330,000-$440,000 at your own risk. Click here for more info.

Riley Ulster Imp

1934 Riley Nine Ulster Imp

Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | September 17, 2022

Photo – Bonhams

The Riley Nine is one of those British cars that pops up everywhere in a variety of forms. They were successful sports cars in their day, with the production run of the Nine lasting from 1926 through 1938. No less than 19 factory styles were offered in that period.

In 1927, Riley introduced a sporting, or speed, model called the Brooklands. It featured a low chassis and cycle fenders. Development continued through 1931, at which time they sort of hit a wall before shifting to a new sports model, dubbed the Ulster Imp, after the car’s success in the Ulster Rally. One such car also finished 13th at the 1934 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Imp featured a short-wheelbase chassis and is powered by a 1.1-liter inline-four. It retained the sporty narrow body, tapered tail, and cycle fenders of its predecessor. Imp production lasted from 1933 through 1935. The cars were capable of about 75 mph. This particular car was purchased new by a one Freddie Clifford, who raced it at Ulster. It then was relocated to South Africa with its second owner. Competition history from that point includes:

  • 1937 South African Grand Prix – 2nd (with Buller Meyer)
  • 1938 South African Grand Prix – 3rd (with Ronnie Richardson)

The car was returned to the U.K. in 2008 for use in historic events. It’s now estimated at $185,000-$210,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.

1934 Hudson Convertible

1934 Hudson Deluxe Eight Convertible Coupe

Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | May 18, 2022

Photo – Mecum

The Hudson Deluxe Eight first appeared under that name in 1934 and would continue to be produced through 1938. This first-year model was a Series LU, and nine body styles were offered that year.

Power is from a 4.2-liter inline-eight was rated at 108 horsepower when new. The Convertible Coupe featured a rumble seat and a soft top, and this one is finished in cream with orange accents. Production totals for 1934 were not released.

The age of the restoration here is unknown, but it appears to have held up well. Plus, it’s got mid-1930s artillery-style wheels, which are always a plus. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $72,000.

American Austin

1934 American Austin Coupe

Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 6, 2022

Photo – Mecum

The American Austin. The original cute microcar. Okay, so it’s actually a license-built version of England’s Austin Seven, which was originally introduced in 1923. American Austin was set up in Delaware in 1929, with production beginning the following year in Butler, Pennsylvania. The company eventually went bankrupt, and production ceased in 1935. The company was reformed in 1938 as American Bantam, who would go on to design the original Jeep.

Three different types of coupes were sold by American Austin in 1934 (the company also offered pickups and vans). I have no idea which one this is, but prices ranged from $295 to $385 when new. Coachwork is from the Hayes Body Corporation, hence why the American versions were more stylish than their British counterparts. Power is from a 747cc inline-four good for 15 horsepower.

This one has four-wheel drum brakes and was restored in 2012. Check out more about it here and see more from Mecum here.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $20,000.

BMW 309

1934 BMW 309

Offered by Dorotheum | Vosendorf, Austria | July 3, 2021

Photo – Dorotheum

Here’s another small car from BMW’s early era. The company launched the 303 in 1933. It was their first six-cylinder car and the first BMW with “kidney” grilles – two things the company continues to be known for. In 1934 they introduced the 309, which was essentially a 303 with two fewer cylinders. It was intended as a replacement for the 3/20.

The 309 is powered by an 845cc inline-four that made 22 horsepower when new. Rubber engine mounts were used to reduce vibration in the cabin, and the cars carried bodies from Ambi-Budd. You could choose from a two-door sedan (as shown here), a cabriolet, or a tourer.

Approximately 6,000 examples of the 309 were produced through 1936. This one has known history back only a few decades, and it was restored in Austria. Pre-war BMWs are rarely seen, and the fact that this was about as basic of an example as you could get in 1934 makes it even more impressive that it is still around. It should bring between $14,000-$22,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $22,336.

Cadillac V16 Aerodynamic Coupe

1934 Cadillac Series 452D Aerodynamic Coupe by Fleetwood

Offered by Mecum | Glendale, Arizona | March 18-20, 2021

Photo – Mecum

Wow. Cadillac built V16-powered cars for 10 years between 1930 and 1940. The Series 452D was built for 1934, and quite a few body styles were offered, perhaps none more dramatic than this “Aerodynamic Coupe” designed and built by Fleetwood. Mecum refers to this as “the world’s first fastback coupe.”

That’s right, this is a two-door coupe. On a 154″ wheelbase. That’s 20 inches longer than a 2021 Chevrolet Suburban, which has two additional doors. This car does have a spacious rear passenger area, though. But still, ye gods.

The 7.4-liter (452ci) V16 made 169 horsepower, and the car could hit 100 mph. This is one of America’s greatest-ever cars. And this is perhaps its best body style. Not to mention, it’s purple.

So how rare is it? Well, for a combination of 1934 and 1935, Cadillac produced just 150 examples of the V16. Just three Aerodynamic Coupes were built. This one spent a decade in the Blackhawk Collection before being purchased by its current owner in 2007. Mecum is not auctioning this car but is sort of “presenting it for sale” at their Glendale sale. If you have to ask how expensive it is, you cannot afford it. Click here for more info.

Bugatti Type 59

1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports

Offered by Gooding & Company | London, U.K. | April 1, 2020

Photo – Gooding & Company

After Bugatti’s Type 35 series of cars finished their run as some of the best Grand Prix cars of the era, Bugatti went and introduced the Type 51 in 1931. The development of that car culminated in the Type 59 of 1933, the last pre-war Bugatti Grand Prix car.

It is powered by a 250 horsepower, supercharged 3.3-liter inline-eight. Only eight examples were built. Ralph Lauren has one, but his is restored. This car is as it was in 1938. It’s an ex-factory Bugatti team car, and it’s competition history includes:

  • 1934 Monaco Grand Prix – 3rd (with Rene Dreyfus)
  • 1934 Belgian Grand Prix – 1st (with Dreyfus)

After the 1935 season, the car’s supercharger was removed and it went sports car racing with revised bodywork. In 1938, it was painted in its current black and was acquired by King Leopold III of Belgium. It’s had four owners since and is now estimated to bring “in excess” of $13,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $12,158,412.

Duesenberg J-555

1934 Duesenberg Model J Torpedo Phaeton

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

Duesenbergs have a fairly high survival rate when compared to other cars of a certain age. That’s thanks in large part to pioneering collectors who realized the importance of cars like this and saved them. But not every part of every car can be saved.

This car retains its 6.9-liter, 265 horsepower straight-eight engine and its factory chassis. The body, however, is not original. Initially equipped with a Willoughby sedan body – not the most desirable look – the car was re-bodied before WWII as a convertible sedan.

This Brunn-style dual-cowl torpedo phaeton body was built by Fran Roxas in Chicago sometime in the late-1980s. The car bounced around the auction circuit in the 1990s before being purchased by its late owner in 2006. It’s been in Britain for over 10 years and should bring between $600,000-$800,000 in California in a few weeks. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $478,000.

Duesenberg J-547

1934 Duesenberg Model J Prince of Wales Berline by Rollston

Offered by Bonhams | Tupelo, Mississippi | April 27, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

A car museum closing is never a good thing as it deprives people to see great automobiles they would otherwise never have a chance to see. But, sometimes it’s kind of nice to see some long-term vehicles put back into circulation.

This Duesenberg has been in this collection since 1996. It has known ownership history since 1950 and was partially restored many decades ago. Power is from a 6.9-liter straight-eight making 265 horsepower.

It retains its original one-off Rollston body, its chassis, and engine. One of the centerpieces of its current collection, it should bring between $500,000-$600,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $450,500.

Three Pre-War Cars from Bonhams

Three Pre-War Cars from Bonhams

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 24, 2018


1934 BMW 315/1 Roadster

Photo – Bonhams

Mercedes-Benz (and more specifically, Daimler) have been around for a long time, and have been a major producer of automobiles for essentially that entire time. Not so with BMW. It seems like the only Pre-War Bimmers that are any sort of common are 327/8/9s. Have you ever seen a 315?

This model was introduced in 1934 to replace the four-cylinder 303. The base 315 was a two-door sedan, cabriolet, or tourer. The 315/1 was the sports car variant. Built between 1934 and 1937, it shared the sedan’s chassis but had a slightly tuned engine. The 1.5-liter straight-six made 40 horsepower in this form. But, this particular car actually has an 80 horsepower, 2.0-liter straight-six from the similar 319/1 Roadster. A swap was made at some point in the past.

Only 242 examples of the 315/1 Roadster were made – perhaps most people haven’t seen them. This car has been more or less dormant for 30 years, so some work is needed. Regardless, it should still command between $125,000-$175,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $134,400.


1915 Simplex Crane Model 5 Tourer

Photo – Bonhams

The Crane, Simplex, Crane-Simplex, and Simplex Crane is one confusing mess of marques. Henry Middlebrook Crane started his own car company in 1912 and it lasted through 1914. It was acquired by Simplex and in 1915 they merged the Crane line of cars into their own, as a separate model. From 1915 through the end of the company, the cars were branded as Simplexes and the model was the “Crane Model 5” which Crane introduced back in 1914. When Simplex went under, Henry Crane bought the remnants and sold the Crane-Simplex (as a marque) for about a year in 1922. CONFUSED YET?

What we have here is a Simplex Crane Model 5. It’s powered by a ridiculous 110 horsepower, 9.2-liter straight-six with a four-speed transmission. The two-seater sports tourer body is not original but is nice. Less than 500 Crane Model 5s were produced, making this quite rare today. It should bring between $175,000-$225,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1913 Mercedes 28/60HP Phaeton

Photo – Bonhams

Daimler built some pretty impressive Mercedes-branded automobiles in the pre-Benz years. The 1913 28/60 was a development of the 28/50, which was introduced in 1910. Production of the 28/60 would continue until 1920 and power comes from a 60 horsepower, 7.2-liter straight-four.

This car has been in the same family for the last 40 years and was restored in 2008. It’s been actively toured, a testament to the usability of early Mercedes cars, despite their sometimes immense size. It’s well-outfitted in period accessories and should bring between $800,000-$1,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams in Carmel.

Update: Not sold.