Hughes-Kircher Special

1953 Hughes-Kircher Special

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

Photo – Bonhams

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.

Update: Sold $304,200.

Alfa Superflow IV

1953 Alfa Romeo 6C 3000 CM Superflow IV by Pinin Farina

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 17, 2019

Photo – Gooding & Company

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.

Wright Special

1953 Wright Special

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 15-17, 2019

Photo – Mecum

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.

Arnolt-MG

1953 Arnolt-MG Coupe

Offered by Bonhams | Greenwich, Connecticut | June 2, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

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.

Update: Sold $64,960.

Bristol 403

1953 Bristol 403

Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | April 7, 2019

Photo – Bonhams

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.

Update: Not sold.

Healey Abbott

1953 Healey Abbott Drophead Coupe

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | December 3, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

In addition to attaching his name to everything under the sun, Donald Healey also built cars on his own. Between 1946 and 1954 the Donald Healey Motor Company churned out seven models of their own design that weren’t associated with Nash, Jensen, or Austin.

The Abbott was one of the last models to be introduced, going on sale in 1950. The name came from E.D. Abbott Ltd, a Surrey-based coachbuilder that actually built the body for this car (which is quite attractive compared to some of their other cars). All models were Drophead Coupes, and this particular car is powered by a 2.4-liter Riley twin-cam straight-four.

Production wrapped in 1954, with just 77 units produced, putting it right in the middle when it comes to Healey rarity. Only 20 are thought to remain roadworthy. This well-restored and well-used example should bring between $58,000-$71,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Not sold.

Ferrari 250 MM

1953 Ferrari 250 MM Berlinetta by Pinin Farina

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

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

There are a lot of different “250” models from Ferrari. It started with the 250 S, then came this, the 250 MM. It would evolve into cars like the 250 Testa Rossa, 250 GTO, 250 P and 250 LM. And those are just the racing variants.

The 250 MM was a stout little thing produced in 1952 and 1953. The Colombo V-12 was enlarged to 2.5-liters and produced 237 horsepower when it was dropped into the slightly longer (than the 225) wheelbase of the 250 MM. Named for the famous Mille Miglia road race in Italy, and to commemorate Ferrari’s recent victory there, the 250 MM was one of the premier racing cars for independent drivers of the early 1950s.

This particular car saw action on the privateer sports car circuit in Sweden when new. Down the line, this car was owned by racing driver Jo Bonnier and was eventually registered in Switzerland. Later owners had the car in Italy, England, France, Germany, and finally the United States. In beautiful condition after a recent cosmetic freshening, this will be another of RM’s mega-dollar cars in Monterey. It is one of just 31 250 MMs built and one of only 18 such cars that wear a Pinin Farina Berlinetta body. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Ferrari 625 TF

1953 Ferrari 625 TF by Vignale

Offered by Bonhams | Monaco | May 11, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

If you like ultra-rare early Ferrari factory race cars, then Bonhams has the car for you. This is a Ferrari 625 TF (for Targa Florio). Built in 1953 only, it was the first closed-wheel, four-cylinder race car from Ferrari.

A four-cylinder Ferrari? Of course! It’s the legendary 2.5-liter Lampredi straight-four and that Lampredi engine would go on to power Ferrari’s Monza line of racing cars. In this guise, it’s good for 220 horsepower… not a far cry from the 237 horsepower produced by the 250 MM’s V-12.

Only three examples of the 625 TF were built and each of them are markedly different, showing signs of evolution from chassis to chassis. This car features open body work from Vignale but in its earliest form carried a different body. Enzo didn’t like the original and so here we are.

This chassis spent its competitive days racing around Italy with the likes of Mike Hawthorn and Umberto Maglioli behind the wheel before being exported to a new owner in Argentina toward the end of 1953. It raced in Argentina and Brazil thereafter, competing into the early 1960s. In the mid-1970s it was discovered in a scrapyard in Naples, Italy, with a Lincoln V-12 stuffed under the hood. It was restored in the 1980s and again by its current owner in the 2000s.

Ferrari road racers from the golden era of sports car racing – and those that Enzo had a hand in – are just wonderful things. This sheer exclusivity of this the 625 TF makes it a great opportunity. It’ll be expensive though: this car carries an estimate of $5,500,000-$8,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Kaiser Dragon

1953 Kaiser Dragon

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

Photo – Gooding & Company

The Dragon was originally a trim level offered on 1951 Kaiser cars. Basically, they were cars equipped with faux-alligator skin interior (called “dragon skin” so no one got the impression that it was real alligator) and thick carpeting. In 1953, Kaiser, decided to build a top-shelf car also called the Dragon.

The 1953 Dragons were well-equipped and aimed at the top of the market. They were marketed as “safety” cars with featured like padded dashboards and pop-out windshields. They also had an electric clock, radio, gold-plated exterior nameplates and power steering. They were more expensive (at $3,924) than both a Buick Roadmaster and a Cadillac Series 62. Sales weren’t great because, while well-equipped, when compared with their more-expensive competition, they seriously lagged in the motor department. The Dragon is powered by a 118 horsepower, 3.6-liter straight-six. The Buick had a V-8 and 70 more horsepower.

Only built for 1953, Kaiser managed to move only 1,277 Dragons. The car is well-styled and definitely has standout looks. The vinyl top even looks like bamboo. The restoration on this car dates to 1982, but it’s still in great shape and is completely usable, as it’s been well-preserved since. This example should bring between $70,000-$90,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $37,400.

Chrysler New Yorker T&C

1953 Chrysler New Yorker Town & Country

Offered by Mecum | Las Vegas, Nevada | November 16-18, 2017

Photo – Mecum

The first two generations of the Chrysler Town & Country were woodies. The last year for those was 1950 and for the 1951 model year, the name was applied to Chrysler’s station wagons (and would continue on their wagons through 1988 before becoming a minivan in 1990).

Chrysler’s 1953 model offerings included the six-cylinder Windsor and the eight-cylinder New Yorker. This car is powered by the New Yorker’s 5.4-liter V-8 making 180 horsepower. Only 1,399 of these were built in 1953 and they cost $4,077 when new. Read more about this one here.

Update: Sold $48,000