Chrysler D’Elegance

1952 Chrysler D’Elegance by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | December 6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The relationship between Chrysler and Ghia resulted in quite a few different designs during the 1950s. There were a series of Chrysler Specials including this one and this one. There were concept cars and the relationship bore fruit for DeSoto as well. Ghia benefited too, with Chrysler powering the Dual-Ghia and Ghia’s sports cars.

The car you see here, the D’Elegance, was a show car bodied for Chrysler by Ghia on a shortened New Yorker chassis. It’s a gorgeous two-seater with a built-in spare tire where the trunk would be. The engine is a 280 horsepower, 5.8-liter Firepower V-8.

This car has been listed as a 1952 or 1953 in various places, but it was built in 1952 and debuted at the 1952 Paris Auto Show. Each of these Italian-bodied 1950s Chryslers is different, bringing their own heightened sense of style and flair to what was already a stylish automotive landscape in the 1950s. This is definitely one of the best-looking of the lot and it should bring between $900,000-$1,100,000 at auction this December. Note: it sold for $946,000 in August of 2011. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Three Late Ferraris

1952 Ferrari 342 America Cabriolet by Vignale

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s really packed their Monterey catalog this year, so much so in fact that I thought they were finished adding cars to it so I mapped out which cars to feature over the three weeks prior to the Pebble Beach Weekend. And then they added these three rare Ferraris. Time is tight, so they are being combined into one post. Enjoy the Ferrari overflow!

The 342 America was the second car in the Ferrari America line, produced in 1952 only. It’s powered by a 4.1-liter V-12 making 200 horsepower. This particular car is the only 342 America bodied by Vignale and it totally has that early-1950s Ferrari appeal.

The amazing thing about the 342 America is that Ferrari only built six examples (with this being the first). Six! That’s it. It’s one of the rarest road-going Ferraris ever made. Only three of them were drop tops and this car was delivered new to Switzerland. The current owners acquired it in 2007 and had it restored to the spec you see here. The estimate on this car is $2,250,000-$3,000,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $2,255,000.


1954 Ferrari 500/735 Mondial Spider by Pinin Farina

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The car in this photograph definitely has the look of a child’s car. But it is not, as it is a true Ferrari race car. It started life as a 500 Mondial, the third car in Ferrari’s Monza line of sports racers. Bodied by Pinin Farina, it doesn’t quite resemble other 500 Mondial Spiders by the same coachbuilder.

Before it left the factory, Ferrari installed an engine from the slightly-earlier 735 S race car. That means this 500 Mondial is powered by a 2.9-liter straight-four that puts out 225 horsepower. That’s actually quite an upgrade over the Mondial’s comparatively weak 170 horsepower, 2.0-liter unit. To this day, no one knows why Ferrari built this car this way.

Sold new to a man in California, it spent its early days tearing around tracks on the West Coast in regional sports car races. The current owner has had the car since 1999, meaning it is being offered from relatively long-term ownership. It’s one of only 13 Pinin Farina Spider-bodied 500 Mondials. And possibly the only one with a 735 S engine. It should bring between $4,000,000-$5,500,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $3,850,000.


1955 Ferrari 121 LM Spider by Scaglietti

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is one of the more obscure Ferraris. But because it’s a sports racer from the 1950s, that means it’s worth a huge amount of money. Ferrari’s chief competition during the 1955 World Sportscar Championship were cars like the Jaguar D-Type. So Ferrari went head-to-head, developing a monster six-cylinder engine to take down the English.

This car is powered by a 360 horsepower 4.4-liter straight-six. This chassis began life as a 118 LM and was one of two examples of that model to be upgraded by the factory to 121 LM specification. In this new spec the cars were unbelievably fast: capable of over 180 mph! The race history for this car includes:

  • 1955 Mille Miglia – DNF (with Paolo Marzotto as a 118 LM)
  • 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans – DNF (with Maurice Trintignant and Harry Shell as a 121 LM)

After that, Ferrari sold it and it entered service as a privateer car in California road races. Unfortunately, driver Ernie McAfee was killed while racing this car in Northern California. The then-owner rebuilt it and the present owner acquired it in 1997. This is a rare chance to acquire a factory Ferrari Le Mans racer. One of just four 121 LMs built, it should bring between $6,500,000-$7,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $5,720,000.

Four Fire Trucks from France

Four Fire Trucks in France

Offered by Osenat | Puiseux-Pontoise, France | May 14, 2017


1942 American LaFrance V-12 Fire Truck

Photo – Osenat

American LaFrance is one of the biggest names in fire trucks. Tracing their roots to 1832, the company built their first motorized vehicle in 1907. In 1995 they were bought by Freightliner, part of Daimler, who dumped them on an investment firm in 2005. They went through bankruptcy in 2008 and closed up shop in 2014.

People love fire trucks, and this wartime example is powered by a big Lycoming V-12 engine, something they only did for a brief period of time. This particular model (whose name I cannot find) was only produced in 1942. These are all coming out of a museum and this one should bring between $11,000-$16,500. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $9,329.


1951 Laffly BSS163 Fire Van

Photo – Osenat

Laffly, which sounds like a comedy club, was actually a French manufacturer of commercial vehicles that was founded back in 1849. Their first automobiles were produced in 1912 and they went out of business in the 1950s.

Their specialty were military vehicles and fire trucks. The BSS163 was the “Standardized Fire Van” and it went into production in 1946. It’s a large van and it’s powered by an 80 horsepower straight-six from Delahaye. This particular van was restored by the owner of this collection. There are two other Laffly fire vans at this sale, but this is the nicest. It should bring between $11,000-$16,500. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1952 Seagrave V-12 Roadster

Photo – Osenat

A couple of things… first, there is no model year listed for this truck. A quick search online revealed (as you can probably surmise by just looking at it) that this Seagrave fire truck is from the early 1950s, thus why I’ve called it a 1952. I also don’t have a model name, but it is V-12 powered and it does sport Roadster body work.

Like American LaFrance, Seagrave is among the biggest names in American fire trucks. Founded in 1881, the company built their first motorized fire truck in 1907. They were acquired by FWD in 1963 and have been based in Wisconsin since. This is a spectacular design and it can be yours for between $11,000-$16,500. Click here for more info.

Update: Not sold.


1927 Delahaye Type 83 Fire Truck

Photo – Osenat

The last fire truck we’ll feature today is from Delahaye, builder of some of France’s most beautiful cars. In fact, Delahaye built a lot of commercial vehicles over the years, including many fire trucks. They are quite rare today because, like Pierce-Arrow and Packard in the U.S., people acquired the commercial vehicles and stripped the bodies off of them and applied sexy passenger car bodies instead.

This fire truck has had a complete restoration and looks very nice. It has one large improvement over the previous generation of heavy trucks: inflatable tires. If you were to drive this back-to-back with a truck on solid rubber tires you’d notice a world of difference. This one should bring between $16,500-$22,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Aurelia B52 by Vignale

1952 Lancia Aurelia B52 2000 Coupe by Vignale

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Villa Erba, Italy | May 27, 2017

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

What time period do you define as the “golden age” of coachbuilding? Is it the 1930s? If so, I would be inclined to agree, but at the same time, I’d be doing a great disservice to the 1950s because there were some really fantastic coachbuilt cars built during that decade. The Lancia Aurelia alone had some great designs.

The Aurelia was Lancia’s luxury car (which was also available as a coupe and convertible in addition to the standard sedan) between 1950 and 1958. It featured the first production V-6 engine and this car carries a 2.0-liter V-6 making 90 horsepower. It rides on a B52 chassis, which was the slightly lengthened B21 chassis that Lancia offered to coachbuilders.

This one went to Vignale and it was fitted with this body that resembled nothing else that Lancia built. The company only sold 98 B52 Aurelias between 1952 and 1953 (with 86 of those being from ’52). It’s a cool car that will stand out anywhere it goes. Click here for more info and here for more from RM.

Update: Sold $313,152.

340 America Competizione

1952 Ferrari 340 America Spider Competizione by Vignale

Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2017

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

The Ferrari 340 America was the first model of the Ferrari “America” cars which would reach their pinnacle in the 1960s with the Ferrari 400 Superamerica. They all wore bodies by either Ghia, Vignale or Touring. Built from 1950 through 1952, the 340 America would be replaced by the exceedingly rare 342 America.

This car is powered by a 4.1-liter V-12 making 280 horsepower. It’s stout and a performer. It was raced in period and by the factory. Its competition history includes:

  • 1952 Mille Miglia – DNF (with Piero Taruffi and Mario Vandelli)
  • 1952 24 Hours of Le Mans – 42nd, DNF (with Louis Rosier and Maurice Trintignant)

Only 22 examples of the 340 America were built – eight of which were sold as decked-out luxury tourers for the street. Of the remaining 14, only three were spec’d as Competizione models from Ferrari. This, car #17, is one of those cars (and it is also one of only four bodied as a Vignale Spider).

The consignor acquired the car in 2011 after it had passed through countless other owners. The restoration dates to 2000, but it’s been lovingly cared for and lightly used on the historic circuit – namely the historic running of the Mille Miglia. This former factory racer will bring big money when it crosses the block in January. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $6,380,000.

Aston-Butterworth

1952 Aston-Butterworth Grand Prix Monoposto

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | September 10, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

For starters: no, this car has nothing to do with Aston Martin. The Aston-Butterworth was the project of Bill Aston. He started with a Cooper Mark I chassis and then used an engine from Archie Butterworth to create this Formula 2 racer. Remember, about this time, Formula 2 was the formula used for the World Championship, like modern Formula 1.

Butterworth’s engine is a 2.0-liter flat-four that makes 140 horsepower. Aston raced one of the cars himself, and built a second (this car) for Robin Montgomerie-Charrington who DNF’d at the 1952 Belgian Grand Prix after running in the top 10.

This car passed through a couple of owners before being bought at auction in 1999 and completely restored in 2004. The current owner acquired the car in 2014 and actually got to use it in a few historic events. This car, one of two from a little-known Grand Prix team should bring between $79,000-$100,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams in Goodwood.

Update: Not sold.

HWM F2

1952 HWM Formula 2 Tasman

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | June 24, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Hersham and Walton Motors started building prototype racing cars in 1946. The company was founded by George Abecassis and John Heath and still exists today in the form of an Aston Martin dealership. In 1950 the duo turned to open-wheel single-seaters. They stopped building race cars after John Heath was killed in the 1956 Mille Miglia.

In 1951, HWM had built a handful of Formula 2 cars and developed them for the 1952 and 1953 seasons. Recall that in seasons such as 1952, all Formula One races were restricted to Formula Two cars, so despite its name, this was technically a Formula One championship entrant. No records survive, but it is thought that this was driver Lance Macklin’s 1952 and 1953 car. 1952 was a better season for Macklin, as he DNF’d every race in 1953.

1952 highlights include an eighth place finish at the Italian Grand Prix and Monza and a 9th at the French Grand Prix at Rouen. After 1953 HWM shifted focus back to sports cars and they sold this car to someone in New Zealand. The engine was upgraded to its current supercharged 2.0-liter straight-four unit upon arrival. It raced competitively in New Zealand for a few years and didn’t return to the U.K. until 1997. Prior to its current owner acquiring it in 2013, it was completely restored and is prepped for racing. It should bring between $230,000-$290,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $225,003.

Grosser Werkmeister

1952 Grosser Werkmeister

Offered by Coys | Essen, Germany | April 9, 2016

Photo - Coys

Photo – Coys

The car you see here (quite possibly for the first time) is an East German race car that was built by Georg Werkmeister. East Germany really isn’t known for their automobiles (other than say, the Trabant), but there were a number of pop up race car builders in the 1950s that came from the far side of the wall.

Like most of these cars, they were based on the pre-war BMW 328. So the engine here is a 328-donated 2.0-liter straight-four making about 135 horsepower. The low, streamlined body was designed by an ex-Auto Union aerodynamicist. It was raced, semi-successfully, in 1952 and 1953.

But in ’53, Werkmeister left for West Germany and his car was seized by the East German government. It continued to race into 1954 before suffering some engine damage. Over the following decades, the car was used as a road car under the care of many owners. It was expertly restored in 2004 and is ready for historic races and tours. Click here for more info and here for more from Coys.

Update: Not sold.

Cunningham C-3

1952 Cunningham C-3

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

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

We’ve actually featured another one of Briggs Cunningham’s C-3 cars, but that one was a coupe. This car, although a 1952 Cunningham, wasn’t bodied for the first time until about 2012. In order for Cunningham to race the C-3, he had to build copies for the road. Those 25 cars were Vignale-bodied. There were 14 other chassis built.

The chassis and engine – a 5.4-liter Chrysler Hemi V-8 making 235 horsepower – were sold as a bare chassis/engine combo to someone in Indiana. The car later made its way to Wisconsin where it was driven (on a farm), sans-body.

While the body was applied during the restoration that ended in 2012, the rest of the car is largely original – the brakes, suspension, even the paint on the chassis. The body resembles the C-2R race car and really doesn’t look like other C-3s. So here is your chance to get one of America’s best sports cars from the 1950s as, essentially, a brand new car. It should cost between $275,000-$325,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $275,000.

XK120 Supersonic

1952 Jaguar XK120 Supersonic by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 13-15, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

When the Jaguar XK120 was introduced in 1948, it was the fastest production car in the world with a top speed of over 120 mph. It had classic Jaguar styling that would stay with Jaguar cars for decades. But what happens when you take a classic British sports car and send it to Italy? This. This happens.

This awesome, futuristic sports car is unrecognizable as a Jaguar, certainly as an XK120. It looks strikingly similar to an Aston Martin Supersonic of similar vintage. First of all, this car is powered by a 220 horsepower 3.4-liter straight-six – making it one of the most-powerful XK120s in the world. It was originally an XK120 Fixed-Head Coupe sent to a dealer in Paris, who then sent it (and another car) to Ghia for a Jet Age makeover.

This car remained in France most of its life and has been repainted in the last 10 years – but everything else is original, including the 22,000 kilometers on the odometer. Only three XK120s were blessed with the Supersonic treatment. Only two are still around, as the body from the third is now on a Shelby Cobra. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $2,062,500.