The so-called “Yellowbird” is the car that put Ruf Automobile on the map. Built from 1987, the CTR (which stood for “Group CTurbo Ruf”) was not actually based on a Porsche Turbo, but instead the 911 Carrera 3.2 of 1987.
Ruf had their way with the stock motor and by the time they were done with it, it was a twin-turbocharged 3.4-liter flat-six that was seriously underrated at 469 horsepower (it was actually likely closer to 500 or more). It was a monster supercar in its day, having a higher top speed than just about anything, topping out at a whopping 213 mph, with 60 arriving in about 3.6 seconds. It outperformed everything from Ferrari and Lamborghini upon introduction and the only thing Porsche had on it was that the 959 was quicker to 60.
It’s a legendary machine that actually looks better than the 911 Turbos (930) that it sort of competed against. If you’re familiar with the Yellowbird, you’ll notice that this car doesn’t quite look right. And you’re correct. The original owner of this car ordered this CTR from Ruf and it looked like all of the other 28 Yellowbirds that Ruf built. The current owner acquired it in 1992 and wanted something that was more usable on the track.
By 1995 it had the appearance it has now, with a full roll cage, an RSR-type spoiler out back, slight exterior trim changes, and racing wheels and tires. But it is still a true, factory-built Ruf CTR – one of only 29 completed. Ruf later converted another 25 Porsche 911 Carreras to CTR specification, but those cars are still titled as Porsches (as Ruf is designated as a separate manufacturer).
This is the first one of these I can remember seeing for sale. They’re legendary, and rightfully so. This one is expected to bring between $560,000-$900,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Artcurial’s Monaco lineup.
Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Uncasville, Connecticut | June 21-24, 2017
Photo – Barrett-Jackson
Gather round neoclassic fans! What we have here is a Tiffany. It was built by Classic Motor Carriages Inc. of Opa-Locka, Florida. This company is best remembered (if at all) as the manufacturer of the Gazelle neoclassic/Mercedes SSK replica. The Tiffany, with its Zimmer Golden Spirit looks, was probably the nicest car they built.
The Tiffany is based on then-modern Mercury mechanicals. It’s powered by a 4.9-liter Ford V-8 and has such amenities as a power sunroof, power steering and a nice 1980s sound system. And, oh yeah, as is required in a neoclassic: it has a musical horn.
These are perfect cars if you like to drive in parades and/or are a budding fashion designer with a penchant for stealing Dalmatian puppies. CMC got hit with a big lawsuit in 1994 and they are sort of still in business under another name, but their days in the turn-key neoclassic business are long behind them. 1989 was the final year for the Tiffany and this one will sell at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Barrett-Jackson’s auction lineup.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Villa Erba, Italy | May 27, 2017
Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s
We recently featured the closed-top Coupe version of this car. RM is also selling a Coupe – and Bonhams, who is selling the Coupe I just linked to, is also selling a Volante. It’s a good time to be in the market for the rarest Aston Martins.
The V8 Vantage Zagato was produced in limited quantities between 1986 and 1990. They’re powered by a 430 horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8. That’s a lot of power for 1989 – so much so that the hood is fitted with a “power bulge” – a term that I’ll just go ahead and leave alone for now. Try finding a faster convertible from that year. It’s not going to happen.
Or one that’s rarer. Aston only built 37 convertibles of this type and this is the only left-hand-drive example. The bright yellow paint is the best indicator that you’ve got a supercar here. Zagato’s boxy styling was great for the era but now it just screams of the era, which isn’t a bad thing as things tend to come back around. Aston ended the 80s on a high note with this car and the price reflects it. This should bring between $490,000-$600,000 at auction. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | April 20, 2017
Photo – Brightwells
Introduced in 1982, the Excel was a sort of evolution of the earlier Lotus Eclat. It was born out of the limited partnership between Lotus and Toyota when the latter’s Supra was in development.
This later Excel is powered by a 2.2-liter straight-four making 160 horsepower, which was the same engine used in Esprits of the era. There were a few special editions that made more power, but all cars more or less looked identical.
Production lasted 10 years and ended in 1992. It’s a little confusing trying to figure out how many were built because numbers vary everywhere you look. Somewhere between 1,400 and 2,500 were actually built, and about 10% of them are still registered in the U.K. A Lotus is an exotic car, and this is one of the best ways to get an exotic for a reasonable price. Figure $7,500-$8,750. Just hope you don’t suffer any crazy issues. Click here for more info.
Offered by Gooding & Company | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2017
Photo – Gooding & Company
No, this is not the Le Mans-winning Mazda 787B. This is the model of IMSA GTP class racing car that came before it. Mazda’s program actually started with the 717C in 1983 and a couple of iterations later, the car you see above was built. The 767 was built by Mazdaspeed for the 1988 season and then it was updated to 767B spec for 1989.
This car, sporting the perfect orange and green livery, is powered by a 2.6-liter 4-rotor Wankel that makes an insane 630 horsepower. It is one of three built and was a Mazda factory race car. It’s competition history includes:
1989 24 Hours of Le Mans – 12th (with Yojiro Terada, Marc Duez, & Volker Weidler)
1990 24 Hours of Le Mans – 20th (with Terada, Takashi Yorino, & Yoshimi Katayama)
Mazda sold the car in 1991 to a privateer who continued to campaign it through 1992. The next owner acquired it in 2003 and the current owner bought it in 2013. It has been restored and comes with the body work from Le Mans in 1989. It’s an extremely rare prototype race car, a direct ancestor of a Le Mans-winning racer. Gooding & Co. estimate that it will bring between $1,800,000-$2,400,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Mecum | Los Angeles, California | February 17-18, 2017
Photo – Mecum
I just asked someone in the room when they thought this car was built and their answer was “1969.” Something funky was going on in Japan in the 1980s (and let’s face it, every year before and after that, too). Mazda and Toyota were building strange things, but Nissan was taking the cake.
Their “Pike” series of cars was a line of four small cars with far-out designs. The Pao was the second “Pike” car introduced and it was only sold during the 1989 through 1991 model years. It is powered by a 1.0-liter straight-four making 51 horsepower that could regularly get over 50 mpg.
These cars were only ever sold in Japan and could be had with a cloth sunroof. Their retro styling was, strangely, ahead of its time. In just 1.5 years of production, Nissan moved 51,657 cars – which they managed to sell all of in just three months. This 65,000 mile example is a rare bird in the U.S. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Brightwells | Leominster, U.K. | November 23, 2016
Photo – Brightwells
We are very excited to be able to feature this car. It might not be especially old or exotic, but it’s very rare and we would be able to tell what it was if we saw it at a car show. The Reliant Motor Company sold its first vehicle in 1935 and cars like the three-wheeled Robin have become quite famous over time. They offered a two-door car called the Scimitar in four different series between 1964 and 1986. The last Reliant cars were sold in 2001.
When the Scimitar went out of production, a company based in Nottingham called Middlebridge Scimitar Ltd. bought the production rights to the Reliant Scimitar GTE and GTC. They managed to produce only 77 of them between 1988 and 1990.
This car is powered by a 2.9-liter Ford V6 and it’s had two owners. It’s covered 48,000 miles and does run and drive, but could use some cosmetic work to make it truly show worthy. It is being offered at no reserve and is rarer than any of the Reliant-produced Scimitars. Click here for more info.
Offered by Oldtimer Galerie | Toffen, Switzerland | November 28, 2015
Photo – Oldtimer Galerie
Sports sedans don’t get much cooler than this. This was one of the first really serious performance sedans. And it remains, to this day, one of the best looking. The Mercedes-Benz 190 series was introduced in 1983 and lasted through 1993. There were a couple of different variations of the hot 190, with this being one of the best.
For starters, you can buy a 190 Cosworth for under $10,000. To rival the BMW M3 Evolution, Mercedes introduced the 190 E Evolution in 1989. It’s basically a homologation special for them to take the 190 DTM racing. There were two Evos, with the Evo II being even more extreme. The Evo I uses a tuned version of the 2.5-16 Cosworth’s engine. It’s a 2.5-liter straight-four making 195 horsepower.
Built in 1989 only, there were only 502 Evo I cars built. This one has had three owners and is “in need of a tune up.” It should bring between $36,000-$42,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this auction.
For sale at Purosangue Maranello | Maranello, Italy
Photo – Purosangue Maranello
Um. I bet you’ve never seen one of these driving down the expressway. One, because there is only one of them and two, because it looks pretty crazy, doesn’t it? Would you believe it if I told you that this used to be a Ferrari Testarossa?
That is, it was based on a Testarossa. It has a modified version of the base engine, in this case it’s a 5.0-liter twin-turbo flat-12 making 739 horsepower. The insane streamlined body was designed by industrial designer Luigi Colani. Look how much glass there is. It looks like a life-size Hot Wheels car.
It had one purpose: break a land speed record for its class (cars with catalytic converters) at Bonneville. And it did, reaching 218 mph on the Salt Flats. This car has shown up here and there over the years and is currently for sale in Italy. Click here for more info.
For sale at Purosangue Maranello | Maranello, Italy
Photo – Purosangue Maranello
Minardi, the great underdog of Formula One, was founded in 1979 by Giancarlo Minardi. In 2005 it became Scuderia Toro Rosso, the Red Bull “junior” team. Minardi never won a race as a team but they did score a handful of points.
The M189 was the car for the 1989 season and this was the personal ride of Pierluigi Martini, the most successful driver Minardi ever had. In period, it was powered by a 3.5-liter Cosworth V-8, although the engine is no longer with this car.
This is chassis #001 and Martini had a string of DNFs to start the season, although he did manage two top fives later on. It is unknown whether it was in this car or not. At any rate, this roller is for sale in Italy if you’re interested. Click here for more info.