“Die Valkyrie”

1955 Cadillac Die Valkyrie Concept Car by Spohn

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | September 2, 2017

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

Yesterday we featured a car owned by Brooks Stevens. Today we feature a car designed by Brooks Stevens. Stevens was an industrial designer best remembered in automobile circles for designing some great cars. In the 1950s he wanted to build a nice ride in the European tradition at a time when there were a lot of European-American cars coming out from American manufacturers.

So he took a 1954 Cadillac chassis and penned an original body for it. There’s a swooping “V” at the front, a long hood, and a removable hardtop for open air driving. The body was built by Spohn of Germany and the engine is an all-American 5.4-liter V-8 making 230 horsepower.

Dubbed “Die Valkyrie” after the Wagner opera, you can just imagine that famous piece of music emanating from this car as it stalks up behind you, that big V at the front trying to root you off the road.

This car was shown at the 1954 Paris Auto Salon and the 1955 New York Auto Show. Stevens bought the car for his wife from the financial backer who funded the project. It remained in his stewardship until 1997 when the current owner acquired it. It’s a one-of-one custom GM Concept Car and should bring big money when it goes under the hammer in Auburn. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Abarth 207/A

1955 Abarth 207/A by Boano

For sale at Fantasy Junction | Emeryville, California

Photo – Fantasy Junction

Carlo Abarth’s little company first put its name on cars at the tail end of the 1940s. In the following decades they were responsible for many “Fiat-Abarth” cars and even some original designs of their own. While a lot of these originals were prototype race cars, there were some very obscure cars that could’ve been used on the street too (it would take some creative talking at your local DMV to get a license plate on this one, however).

The 207/A was built in 1955 and it’s a sports racing car built at the request of an importer in the U.S. The 207/A, with sporty body by Boano, was powered by a 1.1-liter straight-four from the Fiat 1100. Of course, Abarth had their way with the engine and it’s more powerful than it would’ve been in any Fiat.

This particular example is the first 207/A built and its period racing history includes:

  • 1955 12 Hours of Sebring – DQ’d, with John Bentley and Jim McGee

It continued to race through 1957 and didn’t see the track again until it entered the historic circuit in 1986. It’s been restored and is fully prepped and ready for the track. Only 10 were built and they do not change hands often. Get your hands on the very first one for $275,000. Click here for more info.

Pegaso Coupe by Saoutchik

1955 Pegaso Z-102 Series II Coupe by Saoutchik

Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2017

Photo – Gooding & Company

The Z-102 from Spanish manufacturer Pegaso is the most exotic car to come out of post-WWII Spain. The cars were built in Barcelona, but bodied by some of Europe’s finest coachbuilders, in this case by Saoutchik of Paris.

This Z-102 is powered by a 2.8-liter V-8 producing 170 horsepower. This Saoutchik Coupe was one of seven built (there was also a Cabriolet). It’s one of the most striking designs of 1950s sports cars – at the same time sexy and aggressive.

Sold new in Paris, it was later owned by Bill Harrah and in 2002 came into the possession of the Imperial Palace Collection. It’s second restoration was completed in 2008. Only 84 Z-102s were built and each one is highly sought after. Costing approximately $17,000 when new, this car should bring between $600,000-$800,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Ghia Streamline X

1955 Ghia Streamline X Coupe

Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 21, 2017

Photo – Barrett-Jackson

We generally don’t feature cars on Saturdays, but I’m making an exception here for two reasons: 1. the ownership history of this car tells me it is unlikely to come up for sale again anytime soon (if it sells) and 2. I just turned on Barrett-Jackson on Velocity for coverage of Friday’s sale (as I watch RM Sotheby’s on my laptop) and I happened to look at their catalog (which I was doing almost daily for about a month) and I found this car. It wasn’t in their catalog when I finalized the cars we were going to feature from Arizona’s sales but appeared as a late-add by Barrett-Jackson (or, at least, not a timely addition).

Anyway, we’re here, so let’s talk about what this is. Built at the the request of Chrysler chief Virgil Exner, this Ghia-bodied streamliner is the perfect Jet Age concept car. Why? Well it’s powered by a turbine for starters. It only puts out 70 horsepower (and idles at a bat shit crazy 54,000 rpm), but in the world of turbines and sleek aerodynamics, it was theoretically enough power to push this thing to 140-160 mph. The only cars doing that kind of speed in 1955 were doing it on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans.

It debuted at the 1955 Turin Auto Show and was dubbed “Gilda.” The interior (and the engine compartment) are wild and hearken back to an era when people dreamed of the “car of tomorrow.” Ghia eventually put it on display at the Henry Ford Museum where it stayed until 1969 when it was acquired by Bill Harrah. The Blackhwak Museum got it when that collection was dispersed and the current owner bought it in 2005. It’s been to Pebble Beach, Ville d’Este, and was even a no-sale at a Gooding auction years back.

Now Barrett-Jackson is featuring it as the wildest car in their lineup this year (well that, and this). Anyway, I’m writing this late on a Friday night for a Saturday morning post because it was starting to make me sick to my stomach that I was potentially missing out on featuring a car I’d never see offered for public sale again – it has, after all, spent most of its life in museums. Click here for more info. Price? Well the Blackhawk was offering it for $125,000 in 2001 and it no-sold at Gooding with an estimate of $1.0-1.3 million. Expect the owner to want more than that at Barrett-Jackson later today.

Update: Not sold.

Sapphire 346

1955 Armstrong-Siddeley Sapphire 346

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Silverstone, England | May 20, 2016

Photo - Silverstone Auctions

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

The history of Armstrong-Siddeley begins with the production of the short-lived Armstrong in 1902. From 1904, the cars were known as Armstrong-Whitworth and in 1919, they bought Siddeley-Deasy and started building cars as Armstrong-Siddeley. Production lasted through 1960 when the company merged again and focused on its other specialty: aircraft engines.

The Sapphire was actually a line of cars built between 1952 and 1960. There were different lines and the 346 was offered in sedan or limousine form between 1953 and 1958. The engine is a 3.4-liter straight-six making 125 horsepower –  or 150 with twin Strombergs on it. Top speed was a solid 95 mph.

The production total for this model was 7,697. This example is very nice and was brought back to the U.K. from Romania. It hasn’t been used a lot recently, so it could take a little love to get it back and road ready. You can read more here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $7,834.

300SL Sportabteilung

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Race Car

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | December 10, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing” is one of the “must-have” collector cars for serious collectors. And serious collectors need only apply, because in recent years, prices for 300SLs have skyrocketed from around the $500,000 mark to an easy million. Total production of 300SL coupes was about 1,400 examples. Alloy (or aluminium-bodied) cars are highly sought after and very rare. But this is a different animal.

You’re looking at one of only four factory-prepped steel-bodied 300SL Gullwing race cars. Many Gullwings saw competition, usually in the hands of privateer weekend racers, but this is the real deal. Mercedes-Benz sent this car to their sporting department (or “Sportabteilung”) to beef it up to see what the stresses of racing did to their road car.

The engine is a 3.0-liter straight-six making an estimated 240 horsepower – more than a standard road cars. Other upgrades included a lower ride height, competition exhaust, better brakes, and more. Its factory race history is unknown, but it is believed that the car was used as a trainer by Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, John Fitch, and others.

Mercedes sold the car to a guy in Paris who entered it in the 1956 Tour de France, in which the car finished second at the hands of Stirling Moss. The father of the current owner acquired the car in 1966. It sat for 40 years and was only recently “refurbished” to road-worthy condition. It has never been fully restored. It is the first of the four Sportabteilung Gullwings and one of only two known to still exist. It will likely become the most expensive 300SL to ever publicly trade hands. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Ferrari 500 Mondial

1955 Ferrari 500 Mondial by Scaglietti

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | New York, New York | December 10, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Ferrari race cars from the 1950s – the sports racers, not the Formula cars – are just so sought after. After all these years, they remain some of the most authentic, primal, and fun to drive historic race cars. Their values have skyrocketed and to find one that begs to be raced and not pampered is a rare treat.

The 500 Mondial was the Scuderia’s racer for 1954. It used a 2.0-liter Lampedri straight-four making 170 horsepower (can we all stop and take a second to appreciate how awesome that output is for 1955!). The car was also light-as-air, as far as cars are concerned.

This car was sold new to a Frenchman and was painted in beautiful French Blu – the original paint is still on the car. It is a “Series II” car, hence its late, 1955 production year. The first Mondials were Scaglietti coupes, later cars were open cars from Pinin Farina and Scaglietti.

The original owner of this car took it racing and blew the engine. In 1955, after having it worked on at Ferrari, the owner didn’t pay his bill, so Ferrari kept the car for the next two decades, painting it red and displaying it in a museum. They sold it again in 1975 and it had a series of owners up until 2007, when its new Polish owner had the red paint removed to reveal the beautiful blue underneath. This is a factory-original car – never wrecked and ready to go. It’s a preservation class shoo-in. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Moretti 1200S

1955 Moretti 1200S

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Houston, Texas | April 25, 2015

Photo - Worldwide Auctioneers

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

Moretti was an interesting automobile marque. The early years were spent on commercial vehicles, motorcycles, and microcars. It wasn’t until after the WWII that things like this came around. Moretti rebodied a great many Fiat – usually becoming more attractive than the car they were based on. Production numbers were never high, but they were always interesting.

The 1200S Spyder was a prototype built by Moretti. Two were built, one in 1954 and this one in 1955. This car was on the Moretti stand at the 1955 Turin and Geneva Motor Shows. It is powered by a 1.2-liter straight-four making a mighty 85 horsepower.

After the show circuit, the car was sold to the Venezuelan Moretti importer who raced it before selling it to a Ford executive in Venezuela. The new owner took the car to Cuba and attempted to race it but engine issues sidelined him early. He swapped out the engine after the race. When Castro took over, the Moretti and its owner fled the country quickly.

The car was discovered in a barn in 1998, sold to a few new owners and was sent to Italy for restoration. The original engine was sought out, still in Cuba where the owner had left it. It was put back to factory specification and debuted at the 2004 Pebble Beach Concours. It is one of two and could bring between $750,000-$950,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Kurtis 500 Coupe

1955 Kurtis 500 Swallow Coupe by Allied

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Ft. Worth, Texas | May 2, 2015

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Frank Kurtis began building race cars in the 1930s. They were midgets and the first one he built was for himself. But he was good at it – and people recognized that. His cars were so good that Frank Kurtis was the first non-driver inducted into the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. After WWII, he tried his hand at fiberglass road cars and would go on to build five Indy 500-winning roadsters.

The Kurtis Kraft 500 was a racing car – an Indy Roadster. They built a (barely) fendered road version as well. What we have here is a KK500 racing chassis. The body is by a company called Allied that built bodies, specifically near-copies of the Cisitalia 202. It’s a short-wheelbase car and uses a 5.2-liter V-8 from a Lincoln that has been tuned to make 257 horsepower.

The car was built to compete in the legendary Carrera Panamericana, but the 1955 race was cancelled. It would, however, get to compete in the 1990 version of that race and some other vintage events as well. It’s one of only two Allied-bodied Kurtis cars known to have been built and should sell for between $140,000-$200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $220,000.

Frazer Nash Le Mans

1955 Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupe

Offered by Bonhams | Chicester, England | March 21, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Archibald Frazer-Nash built some really cool cars under his own name (he also imported and attached his name to some BMWs). One such car was the Frazer Nash Targia Florio, a sleek convertible built between 1952 and 1954. The company experimented with putting a hard top on one of the Targa Florios and the Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupe was born (not to be confused with the Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica).

The Le Mans Coupe was built between 1953 and 1956. It was the first Frazer Nash closed-top car offered and it featured a 2.0-liter straight-six making 100 or 140 horsepower. This car was actually prepped for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and competed there in 1959. It was driven by William Wilks and John Dashwood, who crashed the car and they were a DNF in 47th place. It was the final race for Frazer Nash at Le Mans.

The car was repaired and has had a number of owners of the years. It is in great condition and is very rare in that only nine were built and this is one of three to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It should sell for between $850,000-$1,00,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $695,854.