Duesenberg J-254

1930 Duesenberg Model J Imperial Cabriolet by Hibbard & Darrin

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 10, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is a wonderful Model J Duesenberg. The profile view of this car screams “stately, high-quality automobile.” Introduced in 1929, the Model J was the crowning achievement of American motorcars up to that time (and for decades afterward).

It’s powered by a 6.9-liter straight-eight engine that puts out 265 horsepower. Every Model J’s body was custom built, and this car was bodied by Parisian coachbuilders Hibbard & Darrin. It’s a big, opulently-appointed car with an over-sized trunk out back to carry the luggage of the original owners: William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies. They carted this car all over the world with them on their travels.

This car has known ownership history more or less going back to when it was new. It’s been owned by famed members of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Club and was restored by a master Model J restorer. It was freshened after 2003 and hasn’t really been shown since. It’s a well-known Model J that has one of the most-famous first owners imaginable. You can find out more here and see more from RM here.

Alfa 6C 2500 Speciale

1942 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Cabriolet Speciale by Pinin Farina

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 9, 2018

Photo – Artcurial

The 6C was a long-lasting Alfa Romeo model, having been built in a variety of different series between 1927 and 1954. What we have here is a 6C 2500, which were built between 1938 and 1952. It was the ultimate 6C model as the 6C 3000 never really went beyond the prototype stage.

This 6C 2500, which is powered by a 2.4-liter straight-six making 90 horsepower, was delivered as a bare chassis to Pinin Farina in 1942 (along with 13 other chassis). The first owner, a wealthy Milanese woman, had Pinin Farina body it for the first time in 1946. The body was an instant hit, winning awards at car shows upon introduction.

It had a slew of American owners later on before being faithfully restored between 2008 and 2013. This is an extremely stylish car wearing a unique, one-off body that was way ahead of its time (for comparison, here is what the standard Pinin Farina Cabriolet looked like from this same era). As a rolling piece of art, this car is expected to bring between $1,225,000-$1,600,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Artcurial.

Update: Not sold.

Pipe Cabriolet

1913 Pipe M22 All-Weather Cabriolet

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 8, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

Founded in Brussels in 1898, Compagnie Belge de Construction Automobile (which is the most generic company name you could have as an automaker in Belgium) was the product of two brothers: Alfred and Victor Goldschmidt. Rare and relatively unknown today, Pipe was one of Belgium’s largest auto manufacturers before WWI. Their factory was destroyed during the war and they didn’t attempt production again until 1921. But it wasn’t to be and their passenger cars disappeared after 1922.

This four-cylinder car, as all Pipe’s were in 1913, is of unknown displacement but it may be a 16/20 hp car, based on its remarkable similarity to another Pipe of the same vintage. It is thought that this is a 1913 model, as that is what the [presumably] original registration plate says.

And, because of that registration, it is thought that this car was delivered new in the U.K. – as Pipe did export a fair number of cars. It did spend some time under American ownership before coming back to the U.K. in the last 15 or so years. It’s thought to be mostly original but it has not run in some time. A rare example of the Belgian Pipe, this car should bring between $36,000-$48,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $39,728.

Bristol 402

1949 Bristol 402 Cabriolet

Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2018

Photo – Gooding & Company

Unlike many of their peers, Bristol did not dabble in automobiles until after WWII. Known primarily for their airplanes, they produced their first car, the 400, in 1947. The followup to that car was the 401 Sedan in 1948.

The following year, Bristol decided to build a drop-top version of the 401 and they called it the 402 Cabriolet. Some Bristol models have a sort of ungainly appearance to them, but this car is downright pretty. It’s powered by a 2.0-liter straight-six that makes 80 horsepower. It’s not quick, but it should do 90 mph.

Sold new to a Thai Prince living in England, this 402 is one of just 26 built. It’s thought that as few as 13 are still around, which is pretty few… but then again Bristol has never been about building cars in any appreciable quantities. Restored just last year, this thing is fresh. It should bring between $425,000-$525,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Wide-Body XK120

1951 Jaguar XK120 Cabriolet by Autenrieth

Offered by Oldtimer Galerie | Gstaad, Switzerand | December 29, 2017

Photo – Oldtimer Galerie

British sports cars are known for being small and having cramped quarters for driver and passenger. The Jaguar XK120 was no exception. Introduced in 1948, it was Jaguar’s first post-war sports car and it was unlike anything else on the road at the time.

It was powered by a 160 horsepower, 3.4-liter straight-six. The “120” in the car’s name referred to it’s top speed in mph. It was lauded as “the world’s fastest production car,” which was largely marketing B.S. as a pre-war Model J Duesenberg could supposedly do 130+ (but I guess that wasn’t classified as a “production” car?).

Anyway, about those cramped quarters. This car was ordered new by a man in Frankfurt, Germany. He didn’t like the way he fit inside of it, so he shipped it to Autenrieth in Darmstadt and they built a wider body for the car, enlarging the passenger compartment to make it roomier. Strangely, the body was built in two halves by two different teams and then joined when placed on the car. If there was a reality competition show about coachbuilding, this is how it would be done. You can apparently still see the seam under the hood.

Autenrieth planned to build eight of these, but this was the only one completed as it brought with it an immense cost. It may still look like a stock XK120, but it is indeed different. Discovered in 1990 after 25 years of disuse, it was restored between 1991 and 1994 and again between 2010 and 2012, when the original engine was re-installed. This one-off Jag will be one of the last cars sold at auction in 2017. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

The Best BMW 335

1940 BMW 335 Four-Door Cabriolet by Autenrieth

For sale at Fantasy Junction | Emeryville, California

Photo – Fantasy Junction

The modern BMW 335 is a six-cylinder car and a member of BMW’s 3-Series lineup. It’s a popular model, but it sits sort of near the bottom of the BMW range. But in 1940 the 335 was as good as it got (unless you hopped up to the sports car-only 328). Introduced in 1939, this model didn’t really get a fair shot with the war about to break out. It was produced into 1941 before passenger car production was halted.

This car is powered by a 90 horsepower, 3.5-liter straight-six (hey look at that, BMW’s model name numbering system used to make sense!). Top speed, dependent on body style, was up to 90 mph. This model could be had as a four-door sedan, two-door cabriolet, or, as you see here, a stately four-door cabriolet.

It seems like Mercedes-Benz (and even Horch to a lesser extent) always gets all of the spotlight when it comes to these Reich-era open-top Autobahn cruisers. Pre-war, BMW rarely enters the conversation unless you’re talking about the 328. Part of the reason is scarcity. Only 415 examples of the 335 were built. Only five four-door cabriolets still exist (of the 40 built by this coachbuilder). Compare that to some of the Mercedes survival numbers and it’s easy to see why the Benzes always show up in films.

This example was restored in 2007 and it still looks fresh. You have to wonder who was in a position to buy such an extravagant car in 1939 and what life it lived during the war. It was brought to the U.S. by a member of the military and it remained here pretty much ever since. This car marked a high point for BMW that they wouldn’t equal for quite some time. It’s currently for sale in California for $495,000. Click here for more info.

Duesenberg J-519

1935 Duesenberg Model J Cabriolet by d’Ieteren

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 5-6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

We’ve featured a lot of Duesenberg Model J’s – far more than any other model of car – in fact, we’ve featured nearly every Model J that has come up for public sale since 2011. But none of them look quite like this.

This car was bodied by d’Ieteren in Brussels (with this being the last Duesenberg Model J bare chassis shipped to Europe, where it arrived in Paris before going to Belgium). D’Ieteren traces their roots back to 1805 and they’re still in business – coachbuilding was just a blip on their radar. They managed to make this car looks small, modern, sleek, and sporty. It’s an excellent design.

As a standard Model J, this is powered by a 265 horsepower, 6.9-liter straight-eight. J-519 came back to America after WWII. Restored for a second time in the late 1990s, the current owner acquired it in 2000. This is a big money car and as of this writing is among the most expensive cars that are on offer at this sale. Click here for more info and here for more from RM Sotheby’s in Hershey.

Update: Sold $1,485,000.

Georges Irat OLC3

1939 Georges Irat OLC3 Cabriolet

Offered by Aguttes | Linas, France | September 24, 2017

Photo – Aguttes

Georges Irat founded his eponymous car company in 1921 in Chatou, France. Irat was an engine builder by trade, so full automobiles were a natural extension. Georges’ son Michel also had a car company. It was called, guess what, Michel Irat.

The OLC3 is powered by a 1.9-liter straight-four that makes 55 horsepower (or 11 CV). It is the same engine Citroen used in their 11CV Traction Avant. Irat’s chassis design was ahead of its time: this car features front-wheel drive and four-wheel independent suspension.

This Cabriolet is one of the final cars Georges Irat made before the end of production due to the outbreak of war (they tried again after the war but only a few cars were made). Restored in 2003, the current owner acquired this car a decade ago. It’s a French car of the 1930s that has comparable style to some of the more lauded French marques like Talbot-Lago or Delage. It’s offbeat, in that sense, and can yours for between $65,000-$90,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Hispano-Suiza K6 Cabriolet

1935 Hispano-Suiza K6 Cabriolet by Brandone

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | London, U.K. | September 6, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The great Hispano-Suiza began in 1904 in Spain. Over the course of the company’s life, even though its name translated to Spanish-Swiss, it shifted some automobile production from Barcelona to Paris. Most of the big, beautiful, later cars produced by the firm came out of France, including this mighty K6.

This was Hispano-Suiza’s six-cylinder model, powered by a 135 horsepower, 5.2-liter straight-six. Introduced in 1934, it was the replacement for the H6 series of cars that dated to the end of WWI. Hispano-Suiza was building 12-cylinder cars alongside the K6, but the K6 was the final model the company introduced as their automobile production wound up in 1938.

This car carries beautiful, long sweeping body work by Carrosserie Brandone, a coachbuilder that did not body as many cars as some of their French counterparts of the day. Past owners of this particular car include the Blackhawk Collection and Peter Mullin. Only about 70 examples of this model was built and this one is quite imposing. It should bring between $2,060,000-$2,320,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Three Late Ferraris

1952 Ferrari 342 America Cabriolet by Vignale

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

RM Sotheby’s really packed their Monterey catalog this year, so much so in fact that I thought they were finished adding cars to it so I mapped out which cars to feature over the three weeks prior to the Pebble Beach Weekend. And then they added these three rare Ferraris. Time is tight, so they are being combined into one post. Enjoy the Ferrari overflow!

The 342 America was the second car in the Ferrari America line, produced in 1952 only. It’s powered by a 4.1-liter V-12 making 200 horsepower. This particular car is the only 342 America bodied by Vignale and it totally has that early-1950s Ferrari appeal.

The amazing thing about the 342 America is that Ferrari only built six examples (with this being the first). Six! That’s it. It’s one of the rarest road-going Ferraris ever made. Only three of them were drop tops and this car was delivered new to Switzerland. The current owners acquired it in 2007 and had it restored to the spec you see here. The estimate on this car is $2,250,000-$3,000,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $2,255,000.


1954 Ferrari 500/735 Mondial Spider by Pinin Farina

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The car in this photograph definitely has the look of a child’s car. But it is not, as it is a true Ferrari race car. It started life as a 500 Mondial, the third car in Ferrari’s Monza line of sports racers. Bodied by Pinin Farina, it doesn’t quite resemble other 500 Mondial Spiders by the same coachbuilder.

Before it left the factory, Ferrari installed an engine from the slightly-earlier 735 S race car. That means this 500 Mondial is powered by a 2.9-liter straight-four that puts out 225 horsepower. That’s actually quite an upgrade over the Mondial’s comparatively weak 170 horsepower, 2.0-liter unit. To this day, no one knows why Ferrari built this car this way.

Sold new to a man in California, it spent its early days tearing around tracks on the West Coast in regional sports car races. The current owner has had the car since 1999, meaning it is being offered from relatively long-term ownership. It’s one of only 13 Pinin Farina Spider-bodied 500 Mondials. And possibly the only one with a 735 S engine. It should bring between $4,000,000-$5,500,000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $3,850,000.


1955 Ferrari 121 LM Spider by Scaglietti

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is one of the more obscure Ferraris. But because it’s a sports racer from the 1950s, that means it’s worth a huge amount of money. Ferrari’s chief competition during the 1955 World Sportscar Championship were cars like the Jaguar D-Type. So Ferrari went head-to-head, developing a monster six-cylinder engine to take down the English.

This car is powered by a 360 horsepower 4.4-liter straight-six. This chassis began life as a 118 LM and was one of two examples of that model to be upgraded by the factory to 121 LM specification. In this new spec the cars were unbelievably fast: capable of over 180 mph! The race history for this car includes:

  • 1955 Mille Miglia – DNF (with Paolo Marzotto as a 118 LM)
  • 1955 24 Hours of Le Mans – DNF (with Maurice Trintignant and Harry Shell as a 121 LM)

After that, Ferrari sold it and it entered service as a privateer car in California road races. Unfortunately, driver Ernie McAfee was killed while racing this car in Northern California. The then-owner rebuilt it and the present owner acquired it in 1997. This is a rare chance to acquire a factory Ferrari Le Mans racer. One of just four 121 LMs built, it should bring between $6,500,000-$7,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $5,720,000.