250 Testa Rossa

1958 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Detroit, Michigan | February 2024

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

At the end of the 1957 World Sportscar Championship season, Ferrari debuted the 250 Testa Rossa aimed a the 3.0-liter class. Ferrari built about 33 examples by 1962, including 19 customer cars. There were 19, unclear if the same 19, that were bodied by Scaglietti, including this one. But this car does not have its original Scaglietti body anymore.

The auction catalog is not complete yet, however, what is there does not mention at all that the car carries a replica body. It just brags of the original engine and gearbox. The engine is a 3.0-liter V12 that made 300 horsepower. The TR was a beast, winning Le Mans three times, Sebring three times, the Targa Florio, and three WSC manufacturer titles. This car was sold new to a Brazilian privateer and was raced at Interlagos in period before having its pontoon fenders removed between the ’59 and ’60 seasons.

It was re-bodied in the style of a 250 GT Berlinetta in the early ’60s and made its way out of South America and to the U.K. in 1985. In 1989 it was fitted with a replica pontoon-fender body (the one you see here) during a restoration. Under British ownership beginning in 1996, the car was used at quite a few historic events, which is great, including the Le Mans Classic, among many others.

It failed to sell at an RM auction in 2010 with a $10.7 million bid and then was purchased by its current owner, Les Wexner, the guy who founded Bath & Body Works and made Victoria’s Secret into what it is today. Fun fact that Wikipedia points out very early: he was also a long-time buddy-buddy of Jeffrey Epstein.

Forbes points out that this re-bodied Testa Rossa could fetch $38 million, which may seem steep for what is essentially a re-creation of what it originally once was. But, these things are rare and you’re paying for that serial number and the history associated with it. You may be able to read more about it here.

Fiat 500 Beach Car

1958 Fiat 500 Spiaggina by Boano

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Paris, France | February 2024

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This beach car was bodied by Boano on a (presumably modified) Fiat 500 platform. It is one of two such like it built and the only known survivor. As it is low production, it is of course claimed to be the inspiration for every similar beach car and Jolly that followed. Seemingly every coachbuilt beach car (or similar) auction catalog listing makes this same claim.

Many of these are based on the larger Fiat 600 or 850 platforms, so it’s unusual to see one that started out as a 500 (even though the front end looks much more like an 850). It appears to have been stretched to fit that somewhat-comfortable looking upholstered rear sofa. More comfortable than the wicker up front anyway.

This doorless wonder was originally built for Mr. Fiat: Gianni Agnelli for use at his French villa. The other example went to Aristotle Onassis. 500s were powered by inline twins, but it’s unclear which version this has. It’s neat and apparently unrestored. The estimate is $295,000-$315,000. More info can be found here.

Monterosa-Bodied Fiat 600

1958 Fiat 600 Coupe by Monterosa

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | St. Moritz, Switzerland | September 15, 2023

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Fiat 600 was a small city car and was slightly larger than the classic Fiat 500, which actually came a little later. But it was also the basis for a number of coachbuilt specials and limited-run cars, including this, which is one of three like it.

Carrozzeria Monterosa was based in Turin and supplied special bodies for chassis from a number of mostly Italian manufacturers, including Maserati, Fiat, and Lancia. They were never a major player, but their designs fit in the time.

This 600 is powered by the standard inline-four and features a more conventional-looking berlinetta body than the stock rounded rear profile of the 600. It also has a very late-50s two-tone color scheme. This photo barely shows it, but the rear glass is the highlight here. Just hope you never have to replace it. The estimate is $56,000-$67,000. Click here for more info.

BMW 501 V8

1958 BMW 501 V8 Sedan

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 26, 2023

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The 501 was BMW’s first new post-war car, as everything it sold up to this point was based on pre-war designs. Amazingly, this first fresh post-war car went on sale in late 1952. It was produced for a decade (although six-cylinder cars were only available through 1958) and in a few different body styles, including as a sedan, coupe, and cabriolet.

There were also various variants, including versions marketed as the BMW 2.6, 2600, and 501 V8. The 502 went on sale in 1954, just after the introduction of this, the 501 V8.

The 501 V8 was powered by a 2.6-liter V8. The difference between this model and the similarly powered 502 was that the 502 was a more luxurious car. Otherwise, they were mostly the same. Just 5,914 examples of the 501 V8/501 2.6/501 2600 were built through 1962. This restored example is expected to fetch between $90,000-$100,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $64,400.

DeSoto Firedome

1958 DeSoto Firedome Convertible

Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 4-15, 2022

Photo – Mecum

The DeSoto marque was founded by Walter Chrysler shortly after he took over Maxwell and founded Chrysler. DeSoto was set to compete with the likes of Pontiac and Willys in the mid-price range. Well, they did so for the next 30 years, but the brand was wound up in 1961.

In the late 1950s, Chrysler’s brands were competing against each other, which was a major reason DeSoto was axed. DeSoto introduced a few upmarket, expensive cars during that time, including the Firedome and Fireflite. DeSoto’s 1957-1959 styling was one of Chrysler’s great ideas of the 1950s. In 1958, The Firedome was powered by a 5.9-liter V8 rated at 295 horsepower. The Firedome slotted in the lineup below the Fireflite and Adventurer.

Convertible production in 1958 totaled just 519 units for the Firedome, making the body style rarer on this platform than in the upmarket Fireflite. This one is finished in a lovely ’50s two-tone green paint scheme with a matching interior. You can check out more about it here.

Update: Sold $198,000.

Volpini Formula Junior

1958 Volpini Formula Junior

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monaco | May 14, 2022

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Gian Paolo Volpini joined forces with Egidio Arzani in 1954 to form Arzani-Volpini. They intent was to make the Formula One grid, which they did for once race in 1955 with driver Luigi Piotti in a modified, used Maserati.

Eventually Scuderia Volpini dropped the name of engine builder Arzani and stuck to the lower open-wheel rungs. This Formula Junior single-seater is powered by a 1.1-liter Fiat inline-four that has been tuned to put out 90 horsepower.

This car had a long history in the U.S., with one of its more recent owners campaigning it at historic events over the last 20-ish years. It’s now offered at no reserve. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $48,491.

250 GT Ellena

1958 Ferrari 250 GT Coupe Ellena

Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | July 9, 2021

Photo – Bonhams

Ferrari’s 250 GT line of cars spawned many sub-models, beginning with 1954’s GT Europa. In 1955, Ferrari introduced the 250 GT Coupe, which could initially be had as a Boano or Ellena variant. The cars were named after their respective coachbuilders, even though both were from the same family. Felice Mario Boano’s namesake company was only around from 1954 through 1957, at which time he renamed the company Carrozzeria Ellena after his son-in-law, who took over the business that would last through 1966.

The two coupes are distinct from each other, but both share the same 3.0-liter Colombo V12 good for 237 horsepower. Only 50 examples of the 250 GT Ellena were built between 1957 and 1958. This one, like others, features a wonderful two-tone paint scheme with a maroon lower body and a silver roof.

This car, #25, was first registered in Rome and made its way to the U.S. in the 1970s. It spent over two decades in a private New York collection and was restored in the U.K. in 2005. It now carries an estimate of $970,000-$1,200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $707,269.

De Sanctis Formula Junior

1958 De Sanctis Formula Junior

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Online | February 19-26, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Gino De Sanctis was a Fiat dealer in Rome who decided in the late 1950s that he wanted to start building race cars. This decision coincided with the launch of the Formula Junior class in 1958. It was an entry-level open-wheel class using parts from regular production cars.

In this case, De Sanctis used a 1.1-liter Fiat inline-four from an 1100/103. Power was rated at 72 horsepower, and the engine was mounted behind the driver. The car features a tubular spaceframe, a four-speed manual gearbox, and a coil-sprung front suspension.

This is the fifth De Sanctis car built, and it was used by its first owner for two seasons of the Italian Junior Championship before heading to a racing school until 1973, when it was purchased by the current owner. The final De Sanctis cars were built in 1970. You can read more about this one here and see more from this auction here.

Update: Not sold.

BMW 503 Cabriolet

1958 BMW 503 Series II Cabriolet

Offered by Bonhams | Knokke-Heist, Belgium | October 11, 2020

Photo – Bonhams

In the mid-1950s, BMW had yet to have a real hit. They were still pushing Isettas on the German people, and alongside that, they were offering the ultra-exclusive 507 Roadster. Meanwhile, they were trying their hand at a luxury 2+2 with this, the 503.

Produced between 1956 and 1959, the 503 was powered by a 3.2-liter V8 that made 140 horsepower. The car could be had as a coupe or a convertible, and they all had four seats. This is a Series II example, the type of which was introduced in 1957. It featured a floor shifter for the four-speed manual transmission.

Only 413 examples of the 503 were built, and just 138 of those were drop-tops. This example was restored in 2002 and is certain to be its next owner’s ticket to any major car event worldwide. It is expected to bring between $410,000-$530,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

1950s Leyland Tanker

1958 Leyland Super Comet Tanker

Offered by Bonhams | Bicester, U.K. | September 20, 2020

Photo – Bonhams

The Comet was a model of heavy truck produced by Leyland Trucks over a series of generations between 1947 and 2015. That’s quite the nameplate heritage. They were produced in every conceivable truck variant: flatbeds, box trucks, tankers, and more.

The third generation Comet was available between 1958 and 1963. During this run, the Super Comet was introduced, which was of an even heavier-duty variety. This particular truck is finished in a bright yellow National Benzole livery. This very truck was used to produce a toy version, which is kind of cool.

The 6.2-liter diesel inline-six makes 110 horsepower. The truck has been offered by Bonhams before, and it’s now back with an estimate of $13,000-$20,000. That’s a lot of vehicle for the money. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $24,412.