Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | October 28, 2020
The Alfa RomeoBerlinetta Aerodinamica Tecnica concept cars of the mid-1950s are some of the most wildly stylish prototypes ever built. Each was bodied by Franco Scaglione at Bertone as an attempt to research the effects of aerodynamic drag on a car. Thus, the swoopy, be-winged designs.
This is the first of the three coupes produced (no, I don’t know why they started with “5”). It debuted at the 1953 Turin Motor Show and is powered by a twin-cam inline-four that supposedly made somewhere between 75 and 100 horsepower. The car’s styling resulted in a drag coefficient of just 0.23. That enabled the tiny engine to push the car to over 120 mph.
Stanley Arnolt was the first private owner, and it has known history since then. RM Sotheby’s is now offering all three B.A.T. concept cars as one lot. It’s an easy eight-figure sale, should it meet the astronomical reserve. Click here for more info.
Update: All three B.A.T. cars sold as a single lot for $14,840,000.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020
Frank Kurtis was a legendary race car designer, and his 500B was an iteration of his earlier 500/500A cars. They first hit the track in about 1953, and they would be competitive for a few years thereafter, although they would eventually be topped by later, greater cars.
It’s powered by an Offenhauser inline-four, and the competition history for this chassis includes:
1953 Indianapolis 500 – 10th (with Jimmy Davies)
1954 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ (with Davies)
1955 Indianapolis 500 – 3rd (with Davies)
1956 Indianapolis 500 – 28th, DNF (with Al Herman)
This car was formerly part of the Bob McConnell collection, and it wears its 1955/1956 “Bardahl Special” livery. Only eight examples of the 500B were built, and this was the last. It’s an Indy podium finisher and is expected to bring between $350,000-$450,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | July 10-18, 2020
I always forget how rare these are. 1953 was the first year for Cadillac’s new halo car, the Eldorado. It was actually the top-of-the-line model of the Series 62 range and was intended as a limited-production specialty car. Only 532 examples were produced.
It’s powered by a 5.4-liter V8 rated at 210 horsepower. It was very expensive when new, running $7,750. A four-door Series 62 sedan would’ve run you $3,666, and a ’53 Chevy 150 Business Coupe cost $1,524. So yeah, not cheap. But oh so pretty.
The model was redesigned for 1954 and production really started to ramp up, leaving these launch cars as rare, special things. This one is about perfect in Azure Blue with a matching interior. I’d say “it can now be yours,” but I want it. So go away. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
The cars were restyled for 1952 to more closely resemble what you see here, and a hardtop model was introduced in 1953. Named the “Le Mans” coupe, the hardtop commemorated Nash-Healey’s podium finish at Le Mans. It cost twice as much as a 1953 Corvette when new and features a body penned by Pininfarina.
Power in this car is from a 4.1-liter inline-six from Nash capable of 140 horsepower. Only 62 coupes were built for 1953, and only 30 are thought to survive. This one was restored in 1994 and is now being sold at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in Amelia Island.
The Aurelia is a very historic nameplate in Lancia’s past, yet it was produced in fairly limited numbers between 1950 and 1958. Only 18,201 were built in total across all body styles. They revised the chassis over the years during the various series of Aurelias built.
The B50 was the less-pedestrian version, and they make up a very small percentage of Aurelia production. Offered as a bare chassis to coachbuilders, B50s would turn up with some fantastic coachwork. In 1952, Lancia updated the chassis to B52 specification, and they built 98 examples through 1953.
Power is provided by a 1.8-liter V6 – the Aurelia was the first mass-produced car with a V6. This example was bodied by Vignale and debuted at the Brussels Motor Show, where it may have caught the eye of the Belgian royal family…
It remained in Belgium through 2007 and was later restored to its motor show stand-livery. It was shown at Villa d’Este in 2016 where let’s be honest, a car like this absolutely belongs. This right-hand drive example is one of 12 B52s built in 1953. You can read more about it here.
Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2019
The 1950s were a great time for one-off road racing specials. Returning soldiers saw the light in Europe with their lightweight sports cars and came back with an increased technical know-how to get it done. And that’s what we have here.
Charles Hughes and Kurt Kircher teamed up to build this very pretty special. Kircher was an ex-GM man who helped develop the Powerglide transmission. Hughes was an ex-G.I. who happened to buy a Jaguar XK120. He took it to Kircher, now in Colorado, and used the XK120 engine, a tube-frame chassis, and an MG steering rack to create the first version of the Hughes-Kircher Special. The body was done in aluminum.
After a few years, the car ceased to be competitive. Somehow, the duo got their hands on a Mille Miglia-prepped 300SL race engine and plopped it under the hood. Later, that engine was swapped for a 240 horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-six from a “standard” 300SL. It still has such an engine, just a different one, as the second straight-six was eventually reunited with its factory Gullwing chassis.
This car has raced all over the world and has been in some major collections. It’s been restored and looks as good as any period Ferrari. But it’ll be much cheaper – between $300,000-$400,000 will take it home. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow IV by Pinin Farina
Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 17, 2019
The Alfa Romeo 6C was first introduced in 1927. That it was still in production in 1954 is kind of crazy, but in Alfa’s defense, the model went through quite a few rounds of changes before it was discontinued. The last iteration of the model was the 6C 3000, which was introduced in 1948.
Three passenger car prototypes were built before Alfa focused the model exclusively on racing. The first racing car was a one-off, and then the company moved to the production of the CM, or Competizione Maggiorata. The engine is a 275 horsepower, 3.5-liter inline-six. Only six were built.
This car began life as a Colli-bodied Berlinetta. After its use as a Le Mans test car, it was shipped to Pinin Farina and re-debuted at the 1956 Turin Motor Show as the “Superflow.” The car was re-bodied in quick succession as the Superflow II and the Super Spider before it culminated, in 1960, as the Superflow IV design you see here.
Passing through a few private owners, it later wore a replica of the Super Spider body before it was restored with its original Superflow IV body in 2013. This is the first time it’s ever been to auction, and it’s one of those cars you never see trade hands publicly. It is expected to sell for between $6,000,000-$8,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 15-17, 2019
One-off racing specials were commonplace in the U.S. in the 1950s. Enterprising individuals would take some off the shelf components, drive down the street to the local fiberglass fabricator, and get their self-designed body produced.
Then they’d tear up the tracks in SCCA events for a couple of years. Surely, countless examples of these pieces of mechanical creativity have been lost to time. But a good number remain, including this one, which was originally constructed by George Kopecky using a pre-war Maserati chassis and an aluminum body.
The history thereafter is a little hazy. The catalog description says that the body was bought by Johnny Wright in 1954 and that an upgraded frame was also built. It’s powered by a 5.4-liter V8 from a 1957 Corvette and was clocked at 143 mph in 1957. It’s an interesting build and very of-the-era. You can read more about it here and see more from Mecum here.
Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 2, 2019
Stanley Arnolt began importing cars into the US from Europe in the 1950s and was later a manufacturer in his own right, based out of Chicago. When he was on a business trip in 1952 he ran into the folks from Bertone at an auto show and struck up a deal.
The deal was that Bertone would design bodies for Arnolt to fit on the chassis of other European cars. The first collaboration was the Arnolt-MG, which was offered as a coupe and convertible. Power is from a 54 horsepower, 1.3-liter inline-four. The mechanicals and chassis were from an MG TD.
Only 65 coupes were built before MG moved on to the TF, leaving Arnolt to find a new base car, which he did from the likes of Bristol, Jaguar, and Aston Martin. This car has been restored and looks as if it came from an entirely different decade than the MG TD on which it is based. It should sell for between $75,000-$125,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | April 7, 2019
We are slowly filling in the gaps of the Bristol model history. We’ve previously covered models 400, 401, and 402. And here we have the 403. Largely an evolution of early cars, it was built between 1953 and 1955. Only 287 were made (or 281, depending on who you ask).
Like earlier cars, and a few following it, the 403’s powerplant is based on a pre-war BMW six-cylinder engine, specifically a 2.0-liter straight-six. Horsepower now cracked three figures for the first time, at 100. It could also do over 100 mph.
Other improvements included work on the suspension and brakes, to add some credibility to the “sport” part of the “sports saloon” they advertised it as being. This is a rare two-door post-war British sports sedan that should command between $62,000 and $66,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.