Lesovsky Indy Roadster

1949 Lesovsky-Offenhauser

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 17-18, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Classic race cars take a special breed of person. They’re high-maintenance cars and you can’t exactly take them to the local cruise-in. And the older they are, the crazier they can be. Before big money moved in, there were a lot of people with a lot of different ideas building cars that ran within inches of each other. They were individuals, not spec cars. And because of that, old race cars are awesome.

This car was built by Lujie Lesovsky’s L.A. Lesovsky Race Car Engineering, an open-wheel race car constructor active from the late-1940s through the early-1960s. It’s a short-wheelbase car powered by a Meyer-Drake Offenhauser inline-four making 300 horsepower. 

The racing history for this chassis includes:

  • 1948 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ
  • 1949 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd, with George Connor
  • 1950 Indianapolis 500 – 8th, with George Connor
  • 1951 Indianapolis 500 – 30th, with George Connor
  • 1952 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bill Taylor
  • 1953 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bill Taylor
  • 1954 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ, with Bob Christie

Well there you have it – three Indy 500 starts with a podium finish. The car was also raced in period by Bill Holland and Len Sutton, the latter of which wrecked the car in a race in 1955. After that, it never raced competitively again. It was preserved and later restored to its “Blue Crown Special” livery.

This Offy-powered Lesovsky is one of very few such cars that survive today. They don’t change hands often, but when they do the prices make you take note. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $201,600.

Patriarca 750 Berlina

1949 Fiat-Patriarca 750 Berlina Sport by Faina

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 24-25, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

With its almost-Porsche-like looks, this Patriarca 750 Berlina is one of many specials built on the backs of small Fiat road cars. Post War Italy didn’t have an economy to support a lot of fancy car sales, so companies like Fiat focused on small, affordable cars for the masses.

But that doesn’t mean Italians still didn’t love motorsport. So people like Rodolfo Patriarca and Carlo Abarth took to modifying these cars for sport. This car was based on a Fiat 500C and has an 81 horsepower, 750cc straight-four tuned for racing by Giannini.

Built by Patriarca for gentleman driver Sesto Leonardi, the competition history for this car includes:

  • 1950 Targa Florio – 3rd in class
  • 1950 Mille Miglia – 1st in class

It continued to race through 1953, with at least one more appearance at the Mille Miglia. It’s wonderfully restored and eligible for many historic events. You can read more here and see more from RM here.

Update: Not sold.

Bristol’s First Road Car

1949 Bristol 400

Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | July 11, 2018

Photo – Brightwells

The Bristol Aeroplane Company was founded in 1910. It had a different name then, but they produced Bristol-branded airplanes for decades, helping the Allies win WWII in the process. Either in a dig at the defeated Germans (or because it was a great starting point), Bristol decided to build cars after the war and used the BMW 328 as their starting point.

Initially acquiring a license from Frazer Nash to build BMW cars, the first Bristol road car was the 1947 400. It’s powered by BMW’s 2.0-liter straight-six that made 80 horsepower. Built through 1950 (the 401 was introduced in 1948), all factory-built 400s were two-door sedans. At least one coachbuilt convertible was also built.

In all, 487 examples were produced. They were a great first start for one of the world’s most exclusive and private car companies. Painted in a striking shade of blue, this example features a rebuilt engine and a re-trimmed interior. It should bring between $66,000-$74,000. Click here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $75,385.

Gilco 1100 Zagato

1949 Fiat-Gilco 1100 Zagato

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monaco | May 12, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Gilberto Colombo began building lightweight automotive chassis right after WWII. It was an extension of his father’s tube-manufacturing company and eventually Gilco became a company in its own right. They were famous for building chassis for racing cars for the likes of Alfa Romeo and Ferrari.

In 1949, Gilco wanted to build a car to race in the famous Mille Miglia. They produced a chassis called the 205MM and before they ever went racing they changed their focus and decided to build a limited-edition roadster. Using a Fiat 1100 1.1-liter straight-four, Gilco reached out to Zagato to get a racing body designed.

And then it all stopped. Only this one prototype was ever built. It was restored in Germany within the last three years and is now a driveable footnote in Italian automotive history. Why the car is called a Fiat-Gilco 1100 Zagato and not a Gilco 205MM Zagato makes it kind of seem like Gilco is getting a little shortchanged. At any rate, it carries a pre-sale estimate of $245,000-$310,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Four Racers from Artcurial

Four Racers from Artcurial

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


1949 Simca 8 Barquette by Motto

Photo – Artcurial

The Simca 8 was a family car built by Simca in France between 1937 and 1951. It was offered in a variety of body styles and two engines were offered, one before 1949 and a slightly larger one after 1949. This 1949 car originally featured a race-prepped version of the earlier, 1.1-liter straight-four.

It was originally a road car, but was transformed into a racing barquette by a racing driver in 1950. The body was built in aluminium by Motto, an Italian coachbuilder. Once race-ready, the owner promptly registered it for the road! It was entered for the 1951 24 Hours of Le Mans but never showed up, though it did compete in some other French sports car races in the early 1950s.

Discovered again after 2000, it was restored and the engine was redone and enlarged to 1.2-liters. It’s just destined for the historic circuit with its new owner. It’ll likely bring between $275,000-$335,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1930 Chenard et Walcker 1500 Type Y8 Tank

Photo – Artcurial

Here’s my pick of these four. The Chenard & Walcker Y8 was introduced at the 1927 Paris Motor Show and was built through 1930. It’s powered by a 1.5-liter straight-four and it’s called a “Tank.” Chenard & Walcker were famous for their tanks, which were kind of squared off yet aerodynamic cars that were mainly destined for the track. Bugatti also built some racing “tanks” around this era as well.

This is a two-seat convertible and it probably doesn’t have racing history, but plenty Chenard tanks saw track action. It’s been in collections for decades and is largely original. No one knows how many of these were built, but there aren’t that many around. This one should bring between $85,000-$160,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $94,913.


1963 Rene Bonnet Aerodjet LM6

Photo – Artcurial

When Rene Bonnet left Deutsch-Bonnet in 1961, he set up shop building cars under his own name. His first new model was the Djet and what we have here is a racing version of the road car. It’s powered by a Renault-Gordini 1.1-liter straight-four and the body is fiberglass.

This car was raced at the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans with Bruno Basini and Robert Bouharde behind the wheel. It finished the race, but did not complete the minimum distance, ultimately resulting in an official “Not Classified” result, but more realistically they were 14th.

The current owner bought the car in 1989 and it was restored, with a 1.3-liter Gordini striaght-four installed in place of the original. Only three of these longtail LM6 Aerodjets were built and this is the nicest, most original one left. It should sell for between $300,000-$425,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1956 Riffard-Renault Tank Record

Photo – Artcurial

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: this looks like one of those tin toys that kids played with in the 1950s. In reality, it started life as as one of two custom-built Guépard race cars that were built in 1952 and 1953. Both competed in a race in 1954 and this one crashed.

The owner took it and while repairing it, decided to turn it into a World Speed Record car. Designed by Marcel Riffard, it’s a sleek, Renault-powered streamliner with a body by Heuliez. The engine is a 750cc four-cylinder and it’s unknown if it ever attempted any records, but it did do a speed run in 1998 after decades in a private collection. It’s a unique car and should bring between $18,000-$30,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $70,090.

Bristol 402

1949 Bristol 402 Cabriolet

Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2018

Photo – Gooding & Company

Unlike many of their peers, Bristol did not dabble in automobiles until after WWII. Known primarily for their airplanes, they produced their first car, the 400, in 1947. The followup to that car was the 401 Sedan in 1948.

The following year, Bristol decided to build a drop-top version of the 401 and they called it the 402 Cabriolet. Some Bristol models have a sort of ungainly appearance to them, but this car is downright pretty. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter straight-six that makes 80 horsepower. It’s not quick, but it should do 90 mph.

Sold new to a Thai Prince living in England, this 402 is one of just 26 built. It’s thought that as few as 13 are still around, which is pretty few… but then again Bristol has never been about building cars in any appreciable quantities. Restored just last year, this thing is fresh. It should bring between $425,000-$525,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Allard M-Type

1949 Allard M-Type Drophead Coupe

Offered by Historics at Brooklands | September 23, 2017

Photo – Historics at Brooklands

Sydney Allard got his start in the car business building racing specials – primarily “trials” specials – for off-road hillclimbs in the 1930s. After WWII, he started with series production of sports cars, the first of which was the J1. In 1947 he introduced this, the M-Type.

Built between 1947 and 1950, the M-Type (sometimes referred to as the M1) was only built as a two-door Drophead Coupe. It’s powered by a 3.6-liter Ford V-8 making 85 horsepower. In total, about 500 were built before it was replaced by the very limited production M2 and M2X.

The look of the car almost has a ready-for-off-road look to it. Kind of like a Volkswagen Kübelwagen. But sportier, of course. This example was delivered new to Northern Ireland and was restored in the 1990s. It has been used on longer distance drives in recent history and should bring between $35,000-$44,000 at auction. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $29,097.

Alfa Freccia d’Oro

1949 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Sport Freccia d’Oro

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Milan, Italy | November 25-27, 2016

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby's

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s is liquidating a huge collection of cars in Italy this year. It was kind of a sudden announcement and the sale features over 800 lots. All of them have pre-sale estimates but very few of them have written lot descriptions. So any statements around the condition of this car are based on photos alone.

The Alfa Romeo 6C was built in a number of different series between 1927 and 1954. The 6C 2500 was built between 1938 and 1952 with the Freccia d’Oro (“Golden Arrow“) being the first model Alfa built after the war. It is powered by a 2.4-liter straight-six making 90 horsepower, enough for a top speed of 96 mph. All were two-door sedans with a sloping rear end that were built in-house by Alfa Romeo.

It does not appear that this car has been restored as the interior is well worn. But the engine bay is very clean and the paint looks okay from a distance. Whether or not it runs we cannot say. Only 680 examples of this 6C were built between 1946 and 1951. It is expected that this one could bring between $70,000-$95,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this gigantic sale.

Update: Sold $167,776.

Delahaye Chapron Cabriolet

1949 Delahaye 135M Cabriolet by Chapron

Offered by Osenat | Fontainebleau, France | November 6, 2016

Photo - Osenat

Photo – Osenat

For many automobile companies, World War II was sort of an interruption. The cars they started building in the late 1930s would re-enter production upon the cessation of hostilities in 1945 (or shortly thereafter if their facilities were damaged). For instance, Delahaye’s luxurious 135 was introduced in 1935. It, and it’s successive line of cars including the 138, 148, and 168, would remain in production until 1954.

Introduced in 1936, the 135M was a 135 with a larger engine. In this case, it sported a 3.6-liter straight-six making either 90, 105, or 115 horsepower depending on configuration. This model remained in production until Delahaye closed up shop in 1954.

Henri Chapron started his coachbuilding company in 1919 and he really hit his sweet spot in the 1930s and 40s. Cars like this beautiful Cabriolet are among his most stylish work. Owned by the consignor since 2002, this car was restored in 2003 in a gorgeous two-tone paint scheme. The pre-sale estimate is $160,000-$195,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $261,352.

Delahaye 148 by Antem

1949 Delahaye 148L Berlinette by Antem

Offered by Artcurial | Le Mans, France | July 9, 2016

Photo - Artcurial

Photo – Artcurial

The Delahaye 148 was actually part of the 135 line that was first introduced in 1935. The 148 is the long wheelbase version. The line lasted until Delahaye’s demise in 1954 (with a break for the war).

This car began life as a 135 Competition model that competed in the Monte Carlo Rally when new. In 1949, the car was re-bodied by Antem with the long, sporty coupe you see here (it seems like Antem only built really long narrow cars). In 1979, the body was removed from the 135 chassis and sold. In 1988, the body found its way onto a Delahaye 148 L chassis (that was originally fitted with a Letourneur et Marchard Sedan body).

The engine is original to the chassis and is the type from a 135 M: a 3.5-liter straight-six making 115 horsepower (with three carburetors). It’s a unique, one-off body with an interesting history from a desirable manufacturer. It should bring between $225,000-$315,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $276,265.