Kaiser Darrin

1954 Kaiser Darrin

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Online | February 19-27, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This car is what, almost 70 years old? It still looks like a concept car today. It was designed by Howard “Dutch” Darrin and produced by Kaiser, a company generally known for staid sedans produced on a shoestring budget. This car had the potential to raise Kaiser above other companies with pure style. But it wasn’t to be.

The Darrin was based on the compact Henry J frame and was powered by a 2.6-liter Willys inline-six rated at 90 horsepower. Not exactly supercar territory, but it was light. The concept car debuted in 1952, and it was America’s first fiberglass sports car, even though production didn’t start until 1954 – the only model year the car was offered.

Kaiser’s finances were a mess at this point, so it never really stood a chance. Only 435 examples were built, the last 50 of which were sold by Darrin himself with different engines or superchargers (this car was later retrofitted with a supercharger). The cars have doors that slide on tracks into the fender wells. How cool is that!? This one also has a rare hardtop. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $125,000.

Bertone DB2/4 Drophead Coupe

1954 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe by Bertone

Offered by Gooding & Company | Online | January 18-22, 2021

Photo – Gooding & Company

The DB2/4 was the follow-up to Aston Martin’s earlier DB2 model. It was succeeded by the DB Mk III, and yeah, Aston’s early naming scheme didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Anyway, the DB2/4 was built in two series between 1953 and 1957. The base car was a 2+2 hatchback, but both fixed head and drophead coupes were also offered, some with fancy coachbuilt bodies.

This 1954 example is one of 565 Series I cars (out of a total run of 764 units). Of those 565, 102 were drophead coupes. Just two of those wear beautiful Bertone coachwork like this. It is recognizable as an Aston if you look at it, but it could easily be confused for something Italian.

Power is from a 2.6-liter inline-six making 125 horsepower. This car is good for 120 mph, and cars built shortly after this example began receiving the 140-horsepower 2.9-liter engine. Bonhams sold this car for over $800,000 in 2011, and now Gooding is offering it without an estimate. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $968,000.

Fiat 1100 Charmant Coupe

1954 Fiat 1100/103 TV Charmant Coupe by Vignale

Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 21, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

The Fiat 1100 was a small family car built between 1953 and 1969. At the 1953 Paris Motor Show, they introduced the TV, or Turismo Veloce, variant (and for some reason, Bonhams insists on spelling it out, even though it was called the TV. I guess it sounds sexier spelled out like it’s some rare sports car… which it isn’t).

The TV did receive an upgraded engine: a sporty 1.1-liter inline-four good for 57 horsepower. There were also styling tweaks that were done in-house. This car, however, is one of 12 bodied by Vignale as a “Charmant Coupe.” Styling was actually penned by Michelotti.

The standard 1100, or even the TV, did not have fastback styling, Borrani wire wheels, or an Abarth intake manifold. This one was stored for a long time and supposedly has very few miles on it. No estimate is available yet, but you can read more about it here. Check out more from Bonhams here.

Update: Sold $190,400.

B.A.T. 7

1954 Alfa Romeo B.A.T. 7

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | October 28, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is the second of the three Alfa Romeo B.A.T. concept cars that RM Sotheby’s is offering as a single lot later this week in New York. It was also styled by Franco Scaglione at Bertone and carries a similar look as BAT 5, except that those rear wings are pulled so far inward they look like the spiraling vapor trails off the end of a plane’s wing.

The driveline was sourced from Alfa’s 1900, meaning that this car has a 115-horsepower 2.0-liter inline-four. Designed without the aid of computers (and likely little-to-no windtunnel time), the BAT 7 boasts a drag coefficient of 0.19. That’s better than a Prius, a car designed specifically to slip through the air.

This car debuted at the 1954 Turin Motor Show and was later sent to the U.S. by Alfa Romeo. It even ran in SCCA races in 1955. The rear wings were removed at one point before being re-installed during a late-1980s cosmetic restoration. Click here for more info.

Update: All three B.A.T. cars sold as a single lot for $14,840,000.

Edwards America Convertible

1954 Edwards America Convertible

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Online | August 14-15, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Sterling Edwards’ eponymous car company managed to produce just six-ish cars during its short run. But they were pretty. The America was available as a coupe and convertible. Two coupes were made, three convertibles were completed, and the sixth body was stolen and likely scrapped.

This is car number one. It was constructed using the frame from a Henry J and an Oldsmobile Rocket V8 engine. The body is fiberglass, and other parts were sourced from existing cars of the era, including Studebaker headlight rings and Mercury taillights.

When new, this car was said to cost $4,995. Not cheap in the day – almost two grand more than a Corvette. This example received a mechanical restoration in 2003 and was purchased by the consignor in 2013. It can now be yours, as it’s selling at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $148,500.

RA4 Vanguard

1954 RA4 Vanguard

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Online | July 31-August 2, 2020

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

So no, this isn’t an Auto Union Grand Prix car, despite its looks. In fact, it was built a full 20 years after those cars dominated the European Grand Prix circuit. The “RA” cars were racing specials built by Hector Green and Jack Brewer in New Zealand between the end of WWII and the mid-1950s. Their first car kept evolving, and in 1951 they decided to replace it.

The RA4 Vanguard was the replacement, and its design and construction were heavily influenced by the pre-war Auto Unions. That’s because its builders consulted a then-declassified British intelligence document that investigated the construction of the German Grand Prix cars of the 1930s. Intriguing stuff.

Power is from a rear-mounted 2.1-liter inline-four from a Standard Vanguard that was supercharged and fitted with dual SU carburetors. Horsepower, when the car was running on methanol, was approximately 200. Wow.

The car competed regularly in New Zealand beginning in 1951 through about 1954. It’s been invited to the Goodwood Revival and has been owned by its current caretakers since 2017. Only five or six RA specials were built. You can read more about this one here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Not sold.

Autobleu 750 MM

1954 Autobleu 750 MM

For Sale by Very Superior Old Cars | Sassenheim, Netherlands

Photo – Very Superior Old Cars

Maurice Mestivier and Roger Lepeytre’s Autobleu was founded in 1950 as a tuning company focused on Renault 4CVs. They introduced their own car in 1953 and it was based on, you guessed it, the 4CV. It did reach production, but the company was gone by 1959. A second model was introduced, but it’s unclear how many were made.

Autobleu believed in the “win on Sunday, sell on Monday” thing, so they developed a racing prototype to help market the brand. It featured a tubular frame and a 750cc inline-four. The streamliner body was designed by our friend Marcel Riffard.

This car competed in the Mille Miglia in 1954, 1955, and 1956 with driver Jean Bianchi. It competed in other sports car races around France and Belgium during that era as well. It was restored a few years ago and is eligible for historic racing. It’s also a very rare example of a product from this brand. Oh, and if you don’t believe it actually went racing, check out the unbelievable period photo below of it surrounded by Italian cars at the Mille back in the day. You can see more about this car here.

Photo – Very Superior Old Cars

Fiat 8V by Vignale

1954 Fiat 8V Coupe by Vignale

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Elkhart, Indiana | October 23-24, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Can you believe that Fiat didn’t built a V8 until they introduced the 8V in 1952? They didn’t produce any eight-cylinder engines until that time, and the only reason the model is called the “8V” is because they didn’t want to get in a tussle with Ford over the use of “V8.”

Between 1952 and 1954, Fiat produced just 114 examples of its 2.0-liter V8-powered 8V. Power was rated between 104 and 125 horsepower depending on which iteration of the engine the car received, although the catalog is short on that detail.

This is the 80th example produced, and it features dramatic bodywork from Vignale. It was produced as a follow up to a Michelotti-penned show car called the Demon Rouge. 8Vs are never cheap, and short of a Supersonic, this is about the best-looking example I’ve seen. It will sell at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Dodge Firearrow IV

1954 Dodge Firearrow IV Concept

For Sale by Mecum

Photo – Mecum

Here’s another classic Dodge concept car from the mid-1950s. This was the final car in the Firearrow series. To recap, the first Firearrow was a mockup, the second was a beautiful convertible, the third was a coupe, and this, the fourth, was a production-ready car that Chrysler decided not to move forward with.

It’s powered by a 150 horsepower, 3.9-liter Red Ram Hemi V8. Like the Firearrow II, it was styled by Virgil Exner and produced in Turin by Ghia. It has a black-and-white checkered interior, which is fantastic. Imagine if Dodge had actually built this and given themselves a legitimate, stylish Thunderbird and Corvette fighter.

This car has changed hands before (it sold for $1.1 million at Barrett-Jackson in 2007) and has been in the Blackhawk Collection for years. And now Mecum appears to be offering it on their behalf. Click here for more info.

Dodge Firearrow II

1954 Dodge Firearrow II Concept

For Sale by Mecum

Photo – Mecum

Dodge debuted a series of Firearrow concept cars in the 1950s that showcased their Hemi V8s and their relationship with Ghia in Italy. Only two of the four Firearrow cars were convertibles, including this one.

It’s powered by a 150 horsepower 3.9-liter Red Ram Hemi V8. Not the most powerful thing in the world, but proof that Dodge was trying to move into a more performance-oriented territory.

Styling is by Virgil Exner, and the body was built in Turin by Ghia. The car was shown all over the U.S. in 1954, and it marked the first running, driving Firearrow, as this car’s predecessor was just a static model. This Jet Age concept car is fully usable, and it is for sale by Mecum/the Blackhawk Collection. Click here for more info.