American-bodied Isotta Fraschini

1927 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A S Roadster by Fleetwood

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

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Isotta Fraschini dates to 1900, when it was founded by Cesare Isotta and the three Fraschini brothers: Vincenzo, Antonio, and Oreste. Cars were available from the outset, with production wrapping up about the time WWII came around (though five units were produced after the war).

The legendary and most well-regarded models in the company’s history were from the Tipo 8 line. The Tipo 8A was the second-generation model, available from 1924 through 1931. It’s powered by a 7.4-liter straight-eight and horsepower depended on which car you bought. This is a “Sport” model, so it rides on a shortened wheelbase.

NYC-based Fleetwood bodied two similar Tipo 8As in period. This one was custom built for legendary silent film star Rudolph Valentino but, unfortunately, he died before the car was delivered. The current owners bought the car in 2001 and had RM do a thorough, award-winning restoration, as the car has been shown successfully on multiple occasions since. It’ll be a big dollar car when it crosses the block in Monterey. Click here for more info and here for more from RM.

Update: Not sold.

A Brand New Isotta Fraschini

1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Landaulet by Sala & Riva

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 19-20, 2016

Photo - RM Sotheby's

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

Isotta Fraschini built cars between 1900 and 1949 in Milan, Italy. When the 1920s came, Isotta jumped to the top of the heap as far as luxury manufacturers went. They were right there with Delage, Hispano-Suiza, and Voisin (among others) as the best Europe had to offer. They were so nice, that most were actually chauffeur-driven. In fact, so many were driven this way that Isotta offered drivers’ training in their large cars.

It is thought that this Tipo 8A, a car manufactured between 1924 and 1931, is the first example built (of 950 total). It was never known to have been sold and was instead used for chauffeur training. Once they were done with it, they parked it in a warehouse where it sat untouched until 1993 when the brand name was revived and sold to an Italian defense company.

That company came into possession of this car and sold it to someone in the U.S. in 2016. It has never been titled or registered, effectively making it a brand new car. The engine is a 110 horsepower 7.8-liter straight-eight and the body is by Cesare Sala with later updates by Carrozzeria Riva. This miraculously untouched, straight-off the factory floor Isotta Fraschini is being sold at auction to it’s first official owner. Click here for more unbelievable photos and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $434,500.

Update: Not sold, RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island 2019.

Isotta-Fraschini Tipo PM

1911 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo PM Roadster by Pavesi & Crespi

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, England | June 26, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Isotta-Fraschini got their start selling Renaults in Italy but quickly dropped the French line in favor of their own – which sprouted and grew quickly. By the 1920s and 30s, they were some of the most desirable cars in the world.

But even their earlier models were well sought after, too. Prior to WWI, the company offered a huge range of models, among them the Tipo PM you see here. It is powered by a 6.0-liter straight-four. It was built for two years only – 1911 and 1912. Only 60 were constructed and only three remain.

The restoration was completed in 2012 and the body is by Carrozzeria Pavesi & Crespi of Milan, a short-lived and not very well known coach builder that went bust shortly after this two-seat roadster was completed. This car should sell for between $540,000-$730,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $547,929.

Isotta 8A SS

1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A SS Cabriolet by Castagna

Offered by Bonhams | Paris, France | February 5, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

There is no argument to be had: Isotta Fraschinis have the best grilles. That lightning bolt crossing it is so eye-catching it’s hard to believe it wasn’t copied all over the world. Isottas were some of the most prestigious cars on the market in 1930 – right there with Duesenberg Model Js and Rolls-Royces. In 1930, a coachbuilt Tipo 8A could cost you upwards of a stunning $20,000.

Isotta Fraschini marketed the world’s first straight-eight engined car in 1920. In 1924, that car was replaced by the Tipo 8A. It uses a 7.4-liter straight-eight engine. In SS trim, the engine put out nearly 150 horsepower.

The four-door cabriolet body work on this car was done by Castagna – a very popular coachbuilder for Isottas. It is believed that this car sat on the stand at the 1930 Milan Salon and from there it was believed sold to the son of William Randolph Hearst. It was restored by the current owner, who acquired the car in 2009, at a cost in excess of $800,000.

Only 950 Tipo 8As were built, with the SS being much rarer. And one with the history of this car will elevate it above all others. It is expected to sell for between $1,100,000-$1,500,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams in Paris.

Update: Sold $1,066,288.

One of the Earliest Sports Cars

1908 Isotta Fraschini Tipo FENC Two-Seater

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 17, 2013

1908 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo FENC

Milan-based Isotta Fraschini began building cars of their own design in 1904. This car came not long after that. The Type FE was a race car built by Isotta to compete in the great European races of the day. Its predecessor, the Type D, used a 17.2-liter straight-four engine. That’s “train-size.”

Well that big engine didn’t fare so well in competition, detonating itself after one lap. So, for the 1908 races, Isotta tried something different. Instead of brute power via displacement, they went for the whole package. The cars were light and handled well – weight was only 1,342 pounds – which is probably close to what the 17.2-liter engine weighed. And then they fitted it with a light 1.2-liter straight-four.

They were more successful at the track and Isotta Fraschini built some for the road and dubbed them “FENC.” The engine was enlarged to 1.3-liters and makes about 17 horsepower. It is capable of 60 mph. You could call it a sports car. Only about 100 FENCs were built and only two are known to survive. This one was discovered in 1985 in bad shape and then thoroughly restored. It sold at auction in 2008 for $166,500. We’ll see how it goes this time around. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum in Monterey.

Update: Sold $145,000.

S/N: 6023

March 2013 Auction Round-Up

The first auction that happened in March was Bonham’s Oxford sale. Top sale went to this 1968 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Re-Creation that was converted from an original 1968 Ferrari 365GT. It sold for $382,700. A real 250 GT would’ve brought much more.

Other interesting cars included this 1975 Lotus Elan +2S 103/5 Coupe, which for $15,600, seems like a bargain for a Lotus Elan.

Our feature cars both sold. First, the 1922 Benjamin cyclecar brought $29,500. And the Charron Charronette sold for $12,150. Other cool cars included this 1927 McLaughlin-Buick Model 28.496 Master Six Tourer. It sold for $90,200.

This 1989 Royale Sabre Roadster was a throwback car built in the U.K. in the early 1990s based around a late 1980s Ford. It’s definitely interesting for $5,200.

And finally, this 1918 De Dion-Bouton Model HD 15CV 2.9-Litre Charabanc may not have been too expensive. It also wasn’t the cheapest car at the sale. But for the sheer number of doors on this thing, it qualifies as interesting. It could’ve been yours for $13,800. Click here for full results.

Next up was Gooding’s sale at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. The top sale there was this 1928 Bentley 4.25-Litre Semi-Le Mans Tourer for $2,750,000.

Among our four feature cars, only the Aston Martin Short Chassis Volante failed to sell. Of the two Duesenbergs, the Model JN brought $594,000 and the Model J brought $462,000. One interesting car was this 1938 H.R.G. Airline Coupe with coachwork by A. Crofts. It sold for $253,000.

The rest of our highlights are all million-dollar cars, most of them Ferraris. At the low end, a 1969 365 GTC brought $1,072,500.

Then there was the 1966 275 GTS for $1,127,500 followed by a 1995 F50 for $1,375,000 (second below).

Two similar million dollar Ferraris – see if you can tell the difference (for $750,000). First, a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 for $1,650,000 (first below). Then, a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Long Nose Alloy for $2,365,000. They look identical but aren’t (obviously).

Our featured Fiat 8V Supersonic brought $1,760,000. The final million dollar car was this 1929 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Derby Speedster with coachwork by Brewster. It brought $1,980,000. Full results can be found here.

Then we move on to RM Auctions’ sale also held at Amelia Island. The top sale was out featured Duesenberg SJ by Walker-LaGrande for $4,510,000. Our featured Pegaso was the only one of our feature cars that failed to sell. As is normally the case, the million-dollar club featured a few Ferraris including a 1965 275 GTB (below) for $1,375,000 and a 1952 225 Sport Tuboscocca by Vignale for $1,237,500.

The only other million dollar cars were our featured Lozier, which more than doubled the lower end of its estimate and sold for $1,100,000. The other was this 1933 Stutz DV32 Convertible Victoria by Rollston which sold for $1,512,500.

Interesting sales were highlighted by this gorgeous 1947 Delahaye 135 MS Coupe by Langenthal that I so desperately wanted to feature but ran out of time. It sold for $330,000.

A couple of our older feature cars were the Derham Tourster Duesenberg for $825,000. And the beautiful Hispano-Suiza Transformable Torpedo brought $495,000. This 1929 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A Convertible Sedan by Floyd-Derham sold for $473,000.

The three oldest cars we featured all sold. First, the Tribelhorn Electric brought $77,000. The unrestored Locomobile sold for $176,000. And the big, brilliant Austin Touring car sold for $379,500 – shy of its estimate. There were a trio of rare Cord L-29s at this sale and these two were very interesting. First, this 1930 L-29 Sport Cabriolet by Voll & Ruhrbeck sold for $990,000.

Then there was this 1929 L-29 Town Car by d’Ieteren Freres that sold for $154,000. Our featured Marmon Two-Door Prototype sold for $407,000. Check out full results here.

Now on to Osenat’s auction, where the top sale was a 1936 Cord 810 Sportsman convertible, of which there was no reasonably good picture I could snag. It sold for $129,000. Both of our feature cars sold. The Darracq-Italiana brought $32,985 while the the Voisin Flatbed Prototype sold for $23,220. The other most interesting car was another Voisin prototype, a 1956 Biscooter C31 Prototype with bodywork I haven’t seen before. It brought $25,800. Check out full results here.

And finally, Auctions America’s Ft. Lauderdale sale. Our featured Ron Fellows Edition Corvette sold for $52,800. Our featured Baldwin Motion Phase III Corvette brought $136,400. The 1977 Panther DeVille did not sell. Top sale went to a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL that sold for $880,000, which sounds like a new high sale for Auctions America.

Our other feature car, the Lexus LFA, sold for $319,000. Other cool cars included this 1960 Chevrolet Nomad for $26,400.

And finally, this 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 Factory Lightweight sold for $106,700. Check out full results here.

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale 2013 Highlights

Barrett-Jackson’s auction is so big in Scottsdale, Arizona in January – and it’s so well publicized (not to mention live results) that it makes it easy to catch all the action. And last year we found it necessary to split up the highlights over two posts (and weekends). This year, the first three days were kind of lackluster with regards to interesting cars (plus I don’t have the time), so I’m combining them into a single post.

The top sale for the first three days (charity cars notwithstanding) was a pitifully photographed 1968 Shelby GT500 KR that sold for $108,900. We only featured one car from these three days, a 1906 Success Highwheeler, which sold for $33,000.

Overall, the top sale was the first Batmobile ever made. Built by George Barris around the 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept car, this Batmobile has been in his possession since the end of filming when he bought it for $1. There are a lot of replicas out there, but this is the first one. It sold for $4,620,000. I would describe this price as bat$&!t crazy. Those replicas don’t sound so bad now.

1966 Lincoln Batmobile #1

One of the other most eye-popping results that will be making people rethink whether or not they will be keeping theirs was this 1970 Oldsmobile 442 W30 Convertible for $357,500.

There were a few other million dollar cars, starting with this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL that was purchased new by Clark Gable. It originally didn’t meet its reserve on the block but was sold shortly after for a slightly lower price. It sold for $2,035,000.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

The next million-dollar car was one of our feature cars. The 1934 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Beverly Sedan sold for $1,430,000. There was another Duesenberg at this sale, that we featured a while back, that failed to meet its reserve. Another feature car that failed to sell was the Shelby EXP 500. The other car that came from Craig Jackson’s personal collection was the 1971 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda Convertible that sold for $1,320,000. Another top sale was this 1929 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A SS Castagna Roadster for $1,320,000.

1929 Isotta-Fraschini Tippo 8A SS Castagna Roadster

Our featured Chrysler Diablo Concept car sold for $1,375,000. Another concept car was this 1954 Packard Panther Convertible that sold for $825,000.

1954 Packard Panther Convertible

More million-dollar cars: this 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L-88 Owens/Corning race car sold for $1,100,000.

1968 Chevrolet Corvette L-88 Owens/Corning Racecar

There was also a pair of 1940s French beauties that crossed the million-dollar mark. First, this 1949 Delahaye Type 175 Saoutchik Coupe de Ville sold for $1,210,000.

1949 Delahaye Type 175 Saoutchik Coupe de Ville

Then there was this 1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 Gran Sport by Franay that brought $2,035,000.

Of our three other feature cars, Fatty Arbuckle’s Pierce-Arrow failed to sell. The incredible Ruxton Sedan was stolen for $275,000. And the Hudson Italia sold for $396,000. There was another Isotta-Fraschini at this sale, a 1925 Tipo 8A S Boattail Roadster by Corsica. It sold for $935,000.

1925 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A S Boattail Roadster by Corsica

There was also this 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Dick Harrell 427 that sold for $253,000.

1969 Chevrolet Camaro Dick Harrell 427

This 1927 Bugatti Type 38 with Four-Seat Open Tourer coachwork by Lavocat et Marsaud sold for $715,000.

1927 Bugatti Type 38 Four-Seat Open Tourer by Lavocat et Marsaud

And finally, one of my favorite cars from this sale was this 1913 Fiat Tipo 55 Speed Car that brought $198,000. Which is less than it would have had it been sold elsewhere, I would bet. You can check out full results here (the final day of the auction is still on-going as I write this).

1913 Fiat Tipo 55 Speed Car

Bonhams Preservation Sale Highlights (10/12)

Bonhams held a really interesting sale at the Simeone Foundation in Philadelphia on October 8, 2012. Many of the cars were unrestored survivors but not offered from the Simeone Foundation itself (unfortunately). And some of them were quite interesting, the most interesting of which, I think, still has to be the Woods Mobilette cyclecar that we featured. It sold for $48,300. Our featured Hahn pickup failed to sell. Top sale went to a one-owner 1973 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona for $357,000.

The “interesting sales” portion of this sale consisted of, well… most of the sale. This 1960 Facel-Vega Excellence Sedan is pretty rare and the price showed it, even in “used-car” condition, at $159,000.

But old cars were the name of the game. And barn finds at that. Check out this 1928 Packard Custom Eight Series 4-43 7-Passenger Touring and how, well, creepy it looks. Love it. It sold for $36,000.

And they got even older still: this 1903 Knox Model C Runabout was the oldest car that sold and it brought $69,000.

This 1917 Crane-Simplex Model 5 Dual-Cowl Victoria had wonderful Phaeton coachwork by Farnham & Nelson and is the type of car people dream about coming across in an old garage somewhere. It has never been restored – just preserved, which was the name of the game here and it’s incredible the kind of cars they found that hadn’t been restored. This one sold for $208,500.

Our two other feature cars both sold: the 1904 Buckmobile Runabout for $46,000 and the 1910 McIntrye High-Wheeler for $37,950. Another car I kind of liked was this 1913 Hupmobile Model 32 convertible. It looks gigantic for being a two-seater. It sold for $32,200.

This barn-fresh 1931 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8A with Lancefield Faux-Cabriolet coachwork was offered publicly for the first time since 1961. It sold for $186,500.

Not everything was priced exorbitantly. There were some steals to be had. Were I there, I would have definitely bid on this 1926 Buick Standard Six Model 20 Coupe – and probably right up to its $6,900 sale price.

And there were other cars that were just as attractive – in both style and price. You can check them all out here. In any case, this sale proves that there are people who love cars in original condition – even if that means unsightly rust and/or wear. Over-restored cars are pretty on TV or on the lawn at Pebble Beach. But those cars aren’t any fun and they are completely devoid of personality. Give me an 80+ year old car with scrapes and dings and chipped paint and torn seats over some trailer-queen exotic any day.

Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Highlights Pt. II

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – but especially Saturday – are the big days at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona. The past few years have seen this event be strictly a No Reserve auction with every car that crosses the block selling, but this year there were some heavy-hitters in the auction’s new “5000 Series” of classics that did in fact have a reserve. And not all of them were met – like the 1955 Flajole Forerunner we featured a few weeks ago: it was a no-sale.

A few of the other cars we featured did sell – and for a boatload of money. The 1930 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A by Castagna sold for $1,100,000. The 1928 Daimler Double Six P.1.50 Limousine brought $1,155,000. The 1930 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Town Car was hammered sold for $1,045,000. Another “bargain” was the 1954 DeSoto Adventurer II which sold for $1,430,000. Keep in mind, all of this happened within about an hour’s time.

One car we didn’t feature was this 1947 Bentley Mark VI by Franay:

It came from the collection of collector Ron Pratte and sold for $2,750,000, which was just barely more than I was going to offer to pay for it. The other mega-sales included the 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow. The live television broadcast of the auction showed an overhead shot of the Silver Arrow and the lines of that car are actually perfect. It is breathtaking. It sold for $2,200,000. And the top sale of the entire auction was the 1948 Tucker Torpedo (also from Ron Pratte’s collection) which was hammered away for an astounding $2,915,000 – about three times my estimate of $1 million.

The only other million dollar sale was this all-original 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing:

$2,200,000 brought this car home. It only had 4,149 original miles on it and was one of 146 Gullwings built that year. Other highlights from Saturday included a 2009 Devon GTX – one of just two produced. It’s a Dodge Viper-based supercar that went out of production as quickly as it entered it because the Viper was axed just after the GTX was announced.

A 650 horsepower American supercar that was originally supposed to cost $500,000 sold for $220,000.

Another car that has started to interest me a little more is this Chevrolet Corvette 2003 Commemorative Edition built by Advanced Automotive Technologies. It’s a standard 2002 Corvette with a custom built body. Coachbuilding isn’t quite as vogue as it used to be but I think over time these cars won’t depreciate wildly like some other “customs.” It sold for $66,000. Another one sold on Friday for $88,000.

And of course ultra-rare muscle cars are the order of the day at Barrett-Jackson. Among Saturdays highlights was this barn-find (yet mechanically “refreshed”) 1965 Shelby GT350. I hope whoever bought it doesn’t restore it – although they paid a pretty penny for it at $385,000. 

Another rare Ford was this 1969 Ford Talladega Prototype. This car was built by Ford for Ford. It’s the only red Ram Air Talladega built. Regular Talladegas aren’t something you see everyday, much less a factory prototype. $137,500 sale price. Oh, and do everyone a favor. If you’re going to sell your car at auction and you‘re responsible for the photography: get a quality camera.

Friday also had its share of highlights including the Nash Bridges Cuda we featured. Last time it sold it was right at about $150,000. This time it sold for $88,000. Other interesting Friday cars included this 1970 Pontiac GTO Judge Ram Air III Convertible ($158,400).

There were a pair of ultra-rare and very famous 1960s drag cars. First, this 1964 Ford Thunderbolt sold for $242,000.

And right after that crossed the block, this 1968 Plymouth Barracuda Super Stock rolled across. It’s an actual “Mr. Five & Fifty” drag car built by Hurst for Chrysler. It also sold for $242,000.

Something from the quirky side was this 1929 Ford Model A Snow Bird built by B.P. Arps Company of Wisconsin. This was something that was done back in 1929 and there are multiple of them out there. It could have been yours for $66,000.

In 1987, Buick took their not-your-daddy’s-Regal Grand National and souped it up to 276 horsepower and 360 lb-ft torque and called it the GNX. They built 547 of them and recently that have become the most collectible American car of the 1980s. This time capsule example with only 1,200 miles on it sold for $88,000. For a 1980s Buick.

The only thing truly odd to cross the block on Sunday was this 1971 Kelsen Sports Rider Electric. It was a street-legal microcar built in from 1963-1973 in California. There were a number of companies who built similar vehicles and I’m not sure I’d drive any of them on the street. A golf course, maybe. When new in 1971 it cost $1,295. It sold on Sunday for $1,540. It’s not really appreciation if you’ve had to sit on it for 40 years to make $250. I used to have a ’92 Century – maybe I should have held on to it and used it to start a retirement fund.

There were also hundreds of other interesting cars. Check out full results at Barrett-Jackson’s website.

Bonhams Scottsdale Highlights

We featured a few cars from the January 19, 2012 Bonhams auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. One of them, this 1967 Fiat Abarth TC Berlina Corsa, sold for just under it’s auction estimate at $46,800. One of the big sales of the auction was this 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Transformal Phaeton by Hibbard & Darrin.

Once owned by actress Marlene Dietrich, it sold for $524,000. The car was given to her as a gift from director Josef Von Sternberg. The coachwork is slightly unusual with the convertible top that comes down between the windows. Interesting and pretty cool.

Another top sale was the 1924 Isotta-Fraschini Tipo 8 Torpedo Phaeton that we featured last two weeks ago. Estimated between $425,000-$525,000, it ended up in the middle at $447,000. Two more of our feature cars did not sell: the 1967 Porsche 906 factory race car and the 1929 Duesenberg Model J Murphy Convertible Sedan. So if you missed them, there’s still time!

However, the interesting 1954 Cramer Comet that we did feature fell right in the middle of it’s pre-sale estimate of $100,000-$150,000 at $122,500. It has a 1350 horsepower Allison aircraft V12. Somebody’s going to have some tire-melting fun.

The top sale of the auction goes to this 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet C. This 180 horsepower German beauty is a very desirable car. RM Auctions sold a few pre-war Mercedes “K” cars back in Monterey for millions and millions of dollars. Comparatively, this was a steal at $667,000.

And look at the detail of the dashboard. These cars are magnificent.

And finally, the final car we featured from this auction was a 1947 Delahaye 135M Three-Position Drophead Coupe by Figoni et Falaschi. It blew the doors off its estimate of $250,000-$350,000 and sold for $474,500. Looking back, that estimate was pretty conservative given the ravenous appetite for pre-war French classics (not to mention anything containing the name “Figoni et Falaschi”) that existed only a few years ago. Times and tastes change and auction houses have to be aware of that. But in this case it seems that good taste prevailed.

For complete results, please check out Bonhams website here.