Three Coachbuilt Classics from Bonhams

Three Coachbuilt Classics from Bonhams

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 24, 2018


1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Record Sport Coupe de Ville by Saoutchik

Photo – Bonhams

The T26 Record was a post-war model from French firm Talbot-Lago. The car was launched in 1946 and built through 1953. Along the way, there were steel-bodied two and four-door cars sold by the factory. But there were numerous coachbuilt one-offs built as well. Like the car you see here.

Power is from a 4.5-liter straight-six that produced 190 horsepower. The body is by Saoutchik and is a two-door, four-seat Coupe de Ville. The roof over the rear passengers’ seat is fixed, but the roof over the front seats pops off (and is stored in the rear section). It’s like a 1940s French Targa.

The current owner acquired the car in 2013 in original condition. A full restoration was commissioned in 2014, the result of which you see here. This was the only such car built by Saoutchik and it is presented in its original colors. It should bring between $1,200,000-$1,600,000. Click here for more info.


1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Sports Roadster by Mayfair

Photo – Bonhams

The 540K was the highlight of pre-war Mercedes-Benz engineering and style. Factory-bodied cars were beautiful, but sometimes an outside firm could take it just one notch up, like this 540K Sports Roadster from the Mayfair Carriage Company of London.

They took a 540K and among other things, added those rear fender skirts that are sliced to pieces with louvers. It’s rakish and almost looks like a hot rod someone would’ve designed in the last 15 years.

Power comes from a 178 horsepower (with supercharger engaged) 5.4-liter supercharged straight-eight. This car made its way from the U.K. to Canada in 1955 where it was subsequently damaged in a fire. Restored over a period of 20 years, it eventually found its way to the Imperial Palace collection in the 1990s, remaining there until 2002. The current owner acquired it in 2007 and this rival to the factory Special Roadsters can be yours for between $3,500,000-$4,500,000. Click here for more info.


1946 Delahaye 135M Coupe by Van Leersum

Photo – Bonhams

This is a classic French design. Swoopy and full of curves, it’s reminiscent of many of the best French coachbuilt classics.

The 135M was part of Delahaye’s 1935-1954 135 line of cars. Introduced in ’36, it was available until the end of 135 production in 1954. The engine is a 3.6-liter straight-six good for 113 horsepower. A Dutch car from new, the body was also applied in the Netherlands by Van Leersum of Hilversum, one of the last cars they bodied.

In addition to the Netherlands, this car was known to have been kept by various owners in France and Belgium. Restored and painted to highlight its curves, this car is coming from a large European collection and can be yours for between $450,000-$550,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

540K Cabriolet B

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B by Sindelfingen

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Houston, Texas | April 23, 2016

Photo - Worldwide Auctioneers

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

I feel like we’ve been featuring a lot of Mercedes-Benz 500K/540Ks recently – and we have – but the reason is that these are some of Mercedes’ finest cars and, while we tend not to feature the same car twice, there were a lot of different styles offered. This is the Cabriolet B. There was also an A and a C, among others.

Powered by a 5.4-liter straight-eight, the 540K makes 115 horsepower and, when the supercharger is engaged (i.e. the gas pedal is pushed to the floor), 180. The Cabriolet B was the most popular body style of all 500K/540K production with 296 built (there were 419 540Ks built in total).

The restoration on this car was completed in 1981 but it has aged so well that it has continued to win awards up through the 2000s. It was even shown at Pebble Beach in 2013. It is expected to bring between $900,000-$1,300,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $836,000.

540K Roadster by Lancefield

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Roadster by Lancefield

Offered by Bonhams | Stuttgart, Germany | March 19, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

We’ve seen a lot of 500K and 540K cars roll through here over the past few weeks. So to find something else to say about these cars is tough. The 540K was the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz engineering when it debuted in 1936. There were 419 chassis built.

The engine is a 115 horsepower 5.4-liter straight-eight that could pump out 180 horses when you pushed the throttle pedal to the floor and engaged the supercharger. Most of the cars were bodied by Mercedes’ in-house coachbuilding division, Sindelfingen. Not nearly as many were bodied by an outside firm.

This is one of those cars. It is an attractive convertible roadster designed by Lancefield Coachworks Ltd. of London. This would’ve been a late body by the company as they switched to aircraft components during the war and maintained that production afterward. It’s a one-off body and it is quite elegant. Look for it to bring between $3,000,000-$3,800,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams’ all-Mercedes sale.

Update: Not sold.

540K Spezial Cabriolet A

1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 12, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

The Mercedes-Benz 540K was the final iteration of their most luxurious line of pre-war cars. It was produced between 1936 and 1940 and a total of 419 of them were built. There are a number of popular body styles, including the Sindelfingen-bodied Cabriolet A, B, & C. There was also the Special Roadster. And then there was this, the 540K Spezial Cabriolet A.

Only two such cars were given the Spezial Cabriolet A treatment (the other is a 500K, making this, essentially, a factory one-off). It’s a combination of the Special Roadster’s raked windshield and the Cabriolet A’s classic, beautiful lines. The engine is a 5.4-liter straight-eight that makes 115 horsepower in normal mode and 180 when the supercharger is engaged.

This car has known ownership history back to the 1940s when it first arrived in America. It was part of the Otis Chandler collection and actually won Best of Show at the 1973 Pebble Beach Concours during his ownership. It was most recently restored in the early-90s and should bring between $3,000,000-$4,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM.

Update: Not sold.

540K Special Roadster

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster by Sindelfingen

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 28-29, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

You’re looking at what might be the biggest dollar car sold at this year’s Arizona auctions. It’s certainly among the most beautiful (okay it is the most beautiful). This is the Benz of the 1930s. The 540K was introduced at the 1936 Paris Motor Show, an evolution of the 500K.

The 540K is powered by a 5.4-liter straight-eight that makes 115 horsepower in normal operating mode and a sporty 180 horsepower when the supercharger was engaged via matting the pedal. 540Ks usually wear Cabriolet A, B, or C bodies by Sindelfingen. But the ultimate topless version was the Special Roadster.

This example is one of the earliest 540Ks known to exist and it was sold new in the United States and kept by the original owner up until the late 1950s. The current owner acquired the car in 1989, it having been restored prior to that acquisition. It is believed to have 10,277 original miles.

Not many of these were built but it is thought that only six remain in this specific style today. They never come up for sale. The pre-sale estimate of $10,000,000-$13,000,000 underscores how special these are. Don’t miss it. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $9,900,000.

A [Mostly] Original 540K Cabriolet A

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A

Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 17, 2013

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A

Hmm, three maroon cars in a row. I didn’t plan that. We’ll need something more colorful for tomorrow. But color isn’t a big issue here because this is a Mercedes-Benz 540K. One of the most desirable cars on earth.

The 540K was, essentially, an updated 500K with a bigger engine. Introduced in 1936, the 540K used a supercharged 5.4-liter straight eight making 180 horsepower with the supercharger engaged. How it worked was, the engine made 115 horsepower as is, but when you floored the accelerator, the compressor kicked in and bumped the power up considerably – allowing the car to attain speeds up to 110 mph.

But what really catches everyone’s attention is that body by Sindelfingen, Mercedes’ in-house coachbuilder. Their cars are gorgeous, this Cabriolet A-style body being no exception. The 540K lasted until 1940, with a total of 83 Cabriolet As built. This car was originally delivered to Paris, but was brought home with a U.S. soldier after the war (what a war prize!). He kept it until 1970 when it was purchased by famed car rescuer Paul Karassik, who painted it the burgundy color you see, replaced the top, and refurbished the leather on the seats. Other than that, this car is original.

Mercedes 540K Cabriolet A’s have an average sale price over the past few years of about $2.5 million. The fact that this car is pretty much original is a wild card – but look for it to bring in the neighborhood of that amount, as Bonhams declined to publish an estimate. You can read more here and check out more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $1,312,500.

Artcurial Rétromobile Highlights

The Artcurial auction at Rétromobile in Paris had a high sell-through rate with a variety of interesting cars. Unfortunately, we only had time to feature two of them. First was the 1938 Horch 853 Cabriolet that ended up selling for $520,732, slightly exceeding its pre-sale estimate. Our other feature car was the awe-inspiring 1913 Delaunay-Belleville that has been in the same family since new – almost 100 years. Artcurial provided a rather large range for the car’s estimate and it sold right in the middle for $600,834.

There were numerous really interesting cars (I keep mentioning that, don’t I?). Some were extravagantly priced while others were downright affordable, like this 1965 Renault 4 that was modified to a convertible shortly after purchase. Renault did produce a 4 convertible – called the Plein Air, but this car pre-dates that model. It sold for $16,690.

The next car was not, well, affordable. But it certainly is jaw-dropping. It’s a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B with a 180 horsepower 5.4 liter straight-8. This particular car was once in the Rockefeller family and has an awesome paint scheme with black and silver with red highlights. It was the second top seller at $629,961.

A quartet of interesting pre-war cars from lesser-known manufacturers than Mercedes-Benz include this 1908 Lorraine Dietrich 12 HP Touring car. It sold for $72,831.

Even older is this London-to-Brighton eligible 1898 (or 1899) Decauville Voiturelle. It’s an early French car that appears to be quite rudimentary by today’s standards. But this was quite a vogue car back in 1898 when over 600 of them were sold. I’m sure they cost a lot less in the 19th century than the $106,212 it went for in Paris in 2012.

The 1912 Gobron-Brillie 12 CV Torpedo Skiff by Rothschild (below) had been on sale in St. Louis at Hyman Ltd. for $325,000. It’s the only one in existence and it could have been yours for $273,117. That’s about a $50,000 savings over buying it off the lot.

The cheapest car (by price) in the entire auction (including motorcycles and scooters) was this 1933 Rosengart LR4 Torpedo that missed its estimate and was sold for $6,828.

Slightly newer is this 1969 Alpine A110 1600 Coupe – a great looking car with racing pedigree. It sold for $84,970.

Cisitalia is best known for their 202 road car and even their monoposto race cars. But they also built about 15 of the 33 DF Voloradente model in the mid-1950s. This 1954 model brought $189,665.

Something I personally thought was really cool was this 1977 Fiat 131 Abarth Rally – a homologation rally car built for the street. 500 were built with a 140 horsepower 2.0-liter straight-4. It’s boxy, so you know it means business. Sale price: $71,314.

Top sale of the auction (which it as by nearly a factor of 10) was this 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spyder. It sold for $5,740,248. The average price for a LWB California Spyder over the past five or so years is about $3.4 million. Prices are rising.

Two other Italian gems were this aluminum-bodied 1967 Bizzarrini 5300 GT Strada – one of only 72 alloy 5300 GTs. A very desirable car, selling for $447,608.

The other was this 1947 Fiat 1100 S MM by Rappi. It’s eligible for all kinds of historic events including the Mille Miglia. These cars are very rare and, although it only has 51 horsepower, they are apparently quite fun – and stylish. $166,905.

This auction also featured more than a dozen rare cars in their original condition. Multiple cars from Talbot-Lago, Hotchkiss, Panhard, Talbot, and Salmson. Most were sedans from the late 1940s and early 1950s. They all looked stately and dusty and ready to be freshened and brought back to life. Prices ranged from about $27,000-$90,000 for the cars as they were in various conditions. None of them were especially extravagant, but the one that keeps catching my eye as I look through the results was the last lot in the sale – this 1939 Hotchkiss 686 Chantilly Limousine. It is in need of a restoration – but imagine how good it would look all prettied up. It sold as is for $39,450.

For complete results, click here.