Ruger Prototype

1970 Ruger Sports Tourer Prototype

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This is the second of two prototypes built by William B. Ruger that bore his name. Powered by a 7.0-liter Ford V8, the cars are built in the style of old Bentleys, etc., and this one very much has some Bugatti looks to it.

According to the auction catalog, the development of the prototypes cost $800,000 in 1969. They were too expensive to ever put into production, but the Ruger family really didn’t need a car company as they were making a killing selling guns.

You’d be hard-pressed to notice that this car was built in 1970 and not 1929. The details are great, and it’s covered almost 15,000 miles since it was built. It’s like if someone tried to build the best 1970-model-year car today with all of the new engine and chassis technology available (oh wait, that’s what Dodge has been doing for the last decade #burn). This isn’t a replica or a neo-classic. It’s a brand-new 1930 Bentley-style tourer. It just happened to be built in 1970.

This car was featured in Motor Trend in 1970. It’s the first time either of the Ruger-branded cars has ever been offered for sale, as the family has retained them since new. It’s being sold without reserve. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Five Cars from Indiana

1905 De Tamble-Miller High-Wheel Runabout Prototype

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Edward De Tamble‘s earliest cars were highwheelers. Series production didn’t start until 1908 in Indianapolis (and later, Anderson, Indiana), and this car predates that time. It carries a stamp calling it a De Tamble & Miller, but not much is really known about it.

Mostly original, it is thought that this was the prototype De Tamble, and it uses parts from the era, including the gearbox from a Ford Model F. It’s a one-off piece of early automotive history, and you can read more about it here.


1907 Kiblinger Model D High-Wheel Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

If you’re noticing a trend, yes, Indiana liked their highwheelers before 1910. The Kiblinger was a product of Auburn, Indiana, where they were built between 1907 and 1909. There are a few of them on display at the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg museum. And this car was once on display there too.

The Model D was one of six models produced by the company, and it’s powered by a 10 horsepower, two-cylinder engine that is shared with similar cars from Sears. Speaking of similar cars, company president W.H. McIntyre shut down and re-branded the company as the McIntyre after they were sued for patent infringement by Success. You can read more about this car here.


1908 Mier Model A Runabout

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The short-lived Mier was built by the Mier Carriage and Buggy Company of Ligonier, Indiana in 1908 and 1909. Solomon Mier, and his son A.B., built about 100 cars during that time before returning to the horse-drawn buggy industry, where they managed to stay in business into the 1920s.

This Model A Runabout was one of two models offered in 1908. Power is from a 10 horsepower inline-twin. Of the 100 built, only two remain, making this a great chance to get your hands on a truly rare car. Click here for more info.


1917 Elcar Model E Cloverleaf Roadster

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Elcar actually traces its roots back to Pratt-Elkhart, which was one of Indiana’s highest-quality early cars. That company later became Pratt, which was quickly reformed as the Elkhart Carriage and Motor Car Company in 1915. They built the Elcar through 1931.

This was the only model available in 1917, and it is one of four body styles offered. The Cloverleaf Roadster retailed for $845 and is powered by a 34 horsepower, Lycoming inline-four. Prediction: this car sells for what would appear to be a great deal. Click here for more info.


1931 Auburn Model 8-98A Sedan

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Hershey, Pennsylvania | October 10-11, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Somehow we’ve only featured one Auburn car prior to this. Indiana was a force in the early days of the automobile industry, and Auburn was one of its star products, which were offered between 1900 and 1937. They built some pretty fantastic cars in the mid-1930s, but everyone seems to forget that they built “normal”-looking cars like this alongside those wild boattail speedsters.

The 8-98 and the 8-98A were the only models offered in 1931. They were powered by a 98 horsepower straight-eight. Various body styles were available, and this sedan would’ve cost its new owner $1,195. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

1966 Duesenberg

1966 Duesenberg Model D Concept

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | August 29-September 1, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

What’s rarer than a Model J Duesenberg? A Model D, of course. The Duesenberg name – and its associated automobiles – have retained such an aura around them since the company originally went out of business in the 1930s that it’s no wonder there have been multiple attempts to restart it. Someone built a “Duesenberg” in 1959 using a Model J engine and a Packard chassis.

In the 1960s, Augie Duesenberg‘s son arranged financing (which ultimately fell apart) to restart the company with serial production. This prototype was conceived and it. Is. Lavish. Boasting features that wouldn’t be standard for another 30+ years, the car is powered by a 425 horsepower, 7.2-liter Chrysler V8.

The body was styled by Virgil Exner and crafted by Ghia in Italy. Yes, it evokes the Stutz reboot that occurred just a few years after this car debuted. And there’s a good reason: Exner styled that one as well.

Apparently, the company received around 50 orders before it all went wrong. This car stayed in the ACD Museum in Auburn for over three decades before joining a prominent collection. It’s more-or-less as it was the day it was built, with just 800 miles on the clock. RM estimates $300,000-$350,000 to take it home, which still means it’s cheaper than the comparatively-common Model J. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Surlesmobile Streamliner

1945 Surlesmobile Streamliner

Offered by Worldwide Auctioneers | Auburn, Indiana | August 31, 2019

Photo – Worldwide Auctioneers

This bubble was designed by Don Surles in the 1930s and was built in the Tokyo Bus Works. So it is technically Japanese. The prototype was built to showcase innovative features such as doors that split in the middle, sliding up and down to allow entry. It also has bench seating that folds into a bed, shatter-proof glass, and a shape that would allow the car to roll over in an accident with a “90% chance” that it lands back on its wheels.

It features four-wheel-drive and is powered by a 50 horsepower, 1.5-liter Continental inline-four. Within hours of its arrival in San Francisco, it was hit while driving. It was later repaired and was last repainted in 1966.

The car has resided in a museum since 1966 and is now being sold at no reserve. Looking it at, the only place I can imagine it ending up is in the Lane Motor Museum. We’ll see in a week or so. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $30,800.

Serenissima Ghia GT

1968 Serenissima Ghia GT

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 8, 2019

Photo – Artcurial

Here is another Serenissima road car that never got beyond the prototype stage. This unregistered car was shown at the 1968 Turin, Geneva, and New York motor shows. It looks eerily reminiscent of a De Tomaso Mangusta, but with bits of other cars of the era sprinkled in that you just can’t put your finger on.

The design was done by Tom Tjaarda at Ghia. Interestingly enough, Giovanni Volpi, who owned Serenissima, was good friends with Alejandro de Tomaso, who owned Ghia at the time. They joined forces to build this car, which is perhaps why it has that Mangusta DNA in its blood.

Power is from a 3.5-liter V8 that was good for 320 horsepower. This car is still owned by Volpi, who has not used it in a long time. It will require a recommissioning before use, but it is the only example built. Therefore, it should command between $450,000-$675,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $513,883.

Vector Avtech Roadster

1993 Vector Avtech WX-3R Roadster Prototype

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 17, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

A week ago we featured the coupe version of this car, the Vector Avtech WX-3. This is the topless form, the WX-3R Roadster. Nothing says over-the-top supercar quite like a rear-engined V-12 roadster with no roof, scissor doors, and headrests that appear to be taller than the ridiculously-raked windshield.

This car debuted alongside the coupe at Geneva in 1993 and is powered by a twin-turbo 6.0-liter V8 and a GM automatic transmission that could take this thing to over 200 mph. Series production never occurred, and this remains a one-off, fantastically 90s, supercar prototype. I literally had a poster of this car on my bedroom wall as a kid.

This is the first time this car has ever been for sale publicly, as it is being sold from company founder Jerry Wiegert‘s personal collection. It should bring between $450,000-$550,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $500,000.

The First 275 GTB

1964 Ferrari 275 GTB Prototype

Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2019

Photo – Gooding & Company

The Ferrari 250 series of cars went on sale in the early-1950s. Ferrari iterated on them for over a decade, but by 1964 they were pretty long-in-the-tooth. So when the 275 GTB was introduced, it was a revelation.

This was the first example they built, and it – like all of the other examples that followed – used technology brought about by Ferrari’s 275P Le Mans program. Power is from a 3.3-liter V-12 making 265 horsepower.

Ferrari kept the car through 1965, using it as a workhorse and revising it until they got it where they liked. Even the coachwork changed from its initial debut. It now wears a long-nose body style.

The car was entered by its first owner in the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally. Ferrari provided support, which is why this car is equipped with front rally lighting, three windshield wipers, and more. It’s had a string of known owners since and was acquired by the current collection in 1994.

It hasn’t been shown publicly in 25 years and is said to be in need of some serious service before use. Still, it should bring between $6,000,000-$8,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Company.

Update: Not sold.

Vector Avtech WX-3

1993 Vector Avtech WX-3 Prototype

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 17, 2019

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

If my schoolgirl-like giddiness for this car becomes too distracting in the text that follows, please just bear with me. I love Vectors. They are outrageous. The company traces its roots back to the 1970s when founder Gerald Wiegert showed his first prototype, the W2, in 1978. The W8 was their first production car in 1989.

The Avtech WX-3 debuted in 1992 and was to go into production with three engine options. This, the coupe version (just wait until next week), is finished in a beautiful shade of Brilliant Aquamarine, though it was originally silver.

Wiegert lost control of the company shortly after this car debuted and the new owners, while barred from using this design, more or less did anyway with the very similar-looking M12 that used Lamborghini engines. This car is powered by a twin-turbocharged 7.0-liter V8 putting out 1,000 horsepower.

This is the only car like it in the world, and Wiegert has never parted with it, until now. It’s so over-the-top in a wonderfully 90s kind of way. I just love these cars. The details are just so extreme, to wit: its shark-like appearance and the fact that the fuel cap looks like it was ripped right off of a Cessna. It is expected to bring between $450,000-$550,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $615,500.

Alfa 155 GTA Stradale

1993 Alfa Romeo 155 GTA Stradale Prototype

Offered by Bonhams | Padua, Italy | October 27, 2018

Photo – Bonhams

The Alfa Romeo 155 was Alfa’s “compact executive car” built between 1992 and 1998. In some trims, this was a downright good-looking car (and still is). They used it in DTM and various touring car series throughout Europe. After some victory in ’92, Alfa decided to build a road-going series of 155 GTA Stradale cars like Mercedes and BMW had been doing for years.

Built by Abarth, the cars were to use a turbocharged 2.0-liter straight-four capable of 190 horsepower. It’s got 4-wheel-drive and an aero kit was added to make it appear boxier and more DTM-like. Company executives wanted a V6, and then they realized how expensive it would be to actually produce a run of these things…

So the project went nowhere. And this was the only example produced. First road-registered in Germany in the late 1990s, the car has accumulated 40k kilometers through a handful of owners. It’s pretty awesome and will cost a serious enthusiast between $210,000-$250,000 to purchase. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Bonhams’ Padua lineup.

Update: Withdrawn from sale.

Matra Jet Prototype

1967 Matra Jet 6 Prototype

Offered by Aguttes | Linas, France | September 30, 2018

Photo – Aguttes

The Djet was a product of the Rene Bonnet company but when they went bankrupt in 1964, Matra bought it out and continued production of the little sports car. They iterated on the cars, selling the Djet 5 and 5S. Eventually they dropped the “D” and the car became the Jet 5S.

And then came version 6. What we have here is a prototype that used a Jet 6 as the starting point and is now a purpose-built race car. It’s powered by a bored-out 2.0-liter Gordini straight-four from an Alpine.

It was raced by its original builder, Marcel Moissonnier, in hill climbs around France. The current owner acquired it in 2015 and has used it on closed-circuit tracks. One-of-a-kind, it should bring between $17,000-$23,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.