Bentley Empress II

1991 Bentley Turbo RL Empress II Coupe by Hooper

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 17-18, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Before we get into the coachbuilt rareness of this car, let’s start with a little model background. The Bentley Turbo R was a sedan introduced in 1985 and was produced in several iterations through 1999. It was sold in two wheelbases initially, long and short. An updated model went on sale in 1995, and the limited-edition Turbo S was sold in 1995.

In 1996, the short-wheelbase cars ended production. Prior to that, long-wheelbase cars were sold as the Bentley Turbo RL. After 1996, they were all long-wheelbase and the “L” was dropped. That’s a long-winded way to tell you that the car presented here is a long-wheelbase Turbo R. But (intrigue!) it’s a coupe. Bentley ever only sold it as a sedan.

That’s where Hooper comes in. The coachbuilder, with a longtime association with Bentley and favored car-crafting masters of the British Royal family, built this two-door aluminum-bodied coupe. Still powered by a 296 horsepower, 6.75-liter turbocharged V8, the car features streamlined coachwork and a bespoke interior. Only five were built, and this car – the fourth built – was used in Hooper’s advertising. It’s one of two left-hand-drive examples and is being sold from the Calumet Collection. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

The Gullwing Alfa Romeo

1976 Alfa Romeo Giulia 2000 GT Veloce Gullwing Coupe

Offered by Aguttes | Lyon, France | November 10, 2018

Photo – Aguttes

The original 4-door Alfa Romeo Giulia went on sale in 1962 and spawned the Series 105/115 Coupes that followed in 1963. There were quite a few variants of the 2-door Giulia. This car began life as a 2000 GT Veloce, a model offered between 1971 and 1976.

Such cars were powered by a 2.0-liter Twin Cam straight-four that made 130 horsepower. They’re great-looking cars, as were most Alfa 2-doors from this era. One thing they didn’t offer from the factory though: gullwing doors.

Some enterprising German decided to build such a car, because, why not? After all, Mercedes-Benz did it 20 years before, so how hard could it be? The car was fully restored and finished in brown. The new doors look seamless – as if this was how the car was born. It’s funky. We love it. It’s a unique one-off creation that is expected to bring between $55,000-$90,000 at auction. Click here for more from Aguttes.

Update: Sold $121,467.

Borgward Isabella

1960 Borgward Isabella Coupe

Offered by Oldtimer Galerie | Toffen, Switzerland | October 20, 2018

Photo – Oldtimer Galerie

The Isabella was a car built by Carl F.W. Borgward GmbH between 1954 and 1962. It was the brand’s volume model and the one they are best remembered for. It was available as a two-door sedan, wagon, pickup, coupe, and convertible.

This car is powered by a 1.5-liter straight-four, as were all Isabellas. Power was rated at 75 horsepower and they were underpowered compared to their competition. The Coupe was not initially available and went on sale halfway through the production run.

Unfortunately, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1961 and various conspiracy theories persist to this day as to why, and Borgward himself died in 1963. It makes for an interesting read, but I don’t really want to go down that rabbit hole right now. This blue example should bring between $24,000-$26,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Honda S800 Coupe

1969 Honda S800 Coupe

Offered by H&H Classics | Duxford, U.K. | October 17, 2018

Photo – H&H Classics

The S800 was Honda’s third sports car, after the S500 and S600. It was the second that could be had as a coupe or convertible. We’ve previously featured an S800 Roadster and this is the much rarer coupe variant.

Introduced in 1966, the S800 is powered by a 791cc DOHC straight-four. These cars are screamers, with a tachometer that lets you rev it like it’s a superbike. Along with the Datsun Roadster, these were Japan’s answer to tiny British cars from Austin-Healey, MG, Triumph, and the like.

This 56,000-mile example has had three owners. Apparently, it has a starter issue, so it will need a little work before being roadworthy. Only 11,536 S800s were built, many of them drop-tops. This rare coupe should bring between $14,000-$17,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $17,615.

Bristol 404

1954 Bristol 404 Coupe

Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | September 8, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

A 404 error is what you get when a server can’t find what you’ve asked it for. The Bristol 404 was not an error, but it’s pretty hard to find when you go looking for one: between 1953 and 1958 the company only built 52 examples.

The 404 and 405 were two models manufactured side by side. The 404 was a two-door coupe with a very short wheelbase, whereas the 405 was a longer wheelbase four-door sedan that could also be had as a two-door convertible. These were the first Bristol cars to completely break away styling-wise from their predecessor’s BMW lineage.

Power comes from a 2.0-liter straight-six that could be had in 105 or 125 horsepower versions. This car was restored some years ago and is being sold out of a collection of Bristol road cars. It’s a nice example of one of the rarer models from one of Britain’s rarest automobile manufacturers. It should bring between $100,000-$130,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

375 America

1954 Ferrari 375 America Coupe by Vignale

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 24-25, 2018

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The first America model from Ferrari went on sale in 1950. Ferrari stuffed their largest V-12 engines into these big (for the day) GT cars. Many of them were coachbuilt. And very few were built. The third model in this line was the 375 America, built in 1953 and 1954 only.

A 4.5-liter V-12 provided power. Rated at 296 horsepower, it could propel the car to 160 mph. This particular car was bodied by Vignale and is finished in burgundy with a silver greenhouse, the original colors it came with.

It was purchased new by an American and spent many years in the U.S., making up part of the Blackhawk Collection at one point. It found itself in the Netherlands for a while, again coming stateside in 2009 before being refinished in its original paint scheme. Only 12 examples of the 375 America were built and this is the first up to come up for sale since 2011. It’s a big money Ferrari and you can find out more about it here. Click here for more from RM Sotheby’s.

Update: Not sold.

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.

Update: Sold $962,000.


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.

Update: Sold $3,277,500.


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.

Update: Not sold.

Bitter SC 3.9

1985 Bitter SC 3.9 Coupe

Offered by Brightwells | Bicester, U.K. | June 24, 2018

Photo – Brightwells

Erich Bitter began producing his own cars in 1973. The first car, the Opel-based CD, was offered through the end of the decade. He followed it up with another Opel-based sports car, the SC.

Launched in 1979, the SC Coupe was built through 1985. There was a limited edition convertible and an ultra-exclusive sedan as well. Two different engines were available: a 3.0-liter straight-six and the hot version: a 3.9-liter straight-six that this car carries. It’s good for 207 horsepower – up from 177 in the base car.

Personally, I think the SC is the best-looking of all of Bitter’s cars. He managed to make just 461 Coupes total and this is one of just 31 right-hand drive examples made. Rare, this car is expected to bring between $24,000-$30,000, which is about the right price. Perhaps, as 80s stuff becomes more collectible, these will rise in price. Who knows. You can see more from Brightwells here.

Update: Not sold.

Whippet Coupe

1928 Whippet Model 98 Coupe

Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Uncasville, Connecticut | June 21-23, 2018

Photo – Barrett-Jackson

Whippet was a small car built by Willys-Overland between 1926 and 1930. Upon its introduction, it was the smallest car on sale in America. The Model 98 was Whippet’s six-cylinder model that went on sale in 1928, replacing 1927’s Model 93A. The Model 98 would evolve into the Model 98A for 1929 and 1930.

The Model 98 is powered by a 2.4-liter straight-six (even though the catalog description says it’s a four-cylinder… there are clearly six spark plugs present. So that makes me question the displacement too). It was available in five different body styles for 1928 and the cheapest one cost just $615. The advertisements read “the world’s lowest price six!”

Well, it won’t be the world’s lowest price six when it sells at no reserve at auction this week because this thing looks mint. It’s beautifully presented and you can read more about it here. Click here for more from Barrett-Jackson.

Update: Sold $13,970.

LaFayette Coupe

1924 LaFayette Model 134 Coupe

Offered by H&H Classics | Duxford, U.K. | March 21, 2018

Photo – H&H Classics

LaFayette has an interesting history. Founded secretly by Charles Nash and staffed with ex-Cadillac designers and engineers, the first LaFayettes hit the market in 1921. It was a full-on luxury car aimed squarely at Cadillac. At first, it was a completely separate endeavor from Nash Motors.

After a slow start, LaFayette was reorganized and moved from Indianapolis to Milwaukee with Nash Motors as the largest shareholder, effectively making it a Nash subsidiary at last in 1923. Later that year Nash introduced the Ajax at the low end of the market and LaFayette became part of that division.

This car is powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 good for 100 horsepower. Seven body styles were offered in 1924, which was the final year for production as Nash sort of gave up on the venture. This four-door coupe (that’s right, LaFayette was almost 100 years ahead of the times) was a four-passenger car. The only two-passenger LaFayette was the Roadster. When new, this car cost a not-insignificant $6,300. Only 2,267 LaFayette motorcars were produced (with just 441 of those being produced in 1924) making this extremely rare. This car, which is selling in England, sports a claimed $200,000 restoration and is expected to bring between $35,000-$48,000. If you want to make a quick buck, buy this for even the upper end of that estimate, ship it to the U.S. and take it to auction at Hershey. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $63,614.