Al Jolson’s Mercedes

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/120/180 Sports 4 by Sindelfingen

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

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

I know we featured a similar-looking Mercedes-Benz S-Type just a week ago but this… this is one of my favorite cars of all time. This is Al Jolson’s Mercedes and it is wonderful. The S-Type was sort of the entry-level model of Mercedes-Benz’s first halo car, introduced in 1926. The cars only get better as they added letters: the SS, the SSK, and the SSKL.

Under that long hood is a 6.8-liter straight-six. Under normal operating conditions, it makes 120 horsepower – but there is a supercharger strapped to the motor that, when engaged, pushes the power to 180. The body is a two-door, four-seat tourer by Mercedes’ in-house coachbuilder, Sindelfingen. The cream exterior with red interior is a great combo and the low-slung dramatic stance this car has is just incredible.

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

We never use more than one photo of a car, but it’s impossible not to here. I’d use all of them, but RM Sotheby’s would probably get angry, so just go check out the rest of them here on their site.

According to its third owner, famed American designer Brooks Stevens, this car was given to Mercedes-Benz factory racing driver Rudolf Caracciola when new. But it’s first traceable owner was none other than Al Jolson, one of the biggest stars of stage and screen (and radio) in the 1920s. He owned the car until 1947 when Stevens bought it. Stevens owned the car until 1990 when he sold it (and then the new owner restored it).

About 10 years ago (give or take) this car was offered at the Auto Collections (or the Blackhawk Collection, I can’t quite recall which, but aren’t they essentially the same thing?). It was there for a while and that’s when it became my “lottery car.” It’s a spectacular looking example of one of the finest pre-war sporting tourers money could buy. And imagining it being manhandled around Jazz Age Hollywood by one of its top stars just adds to its appeal.

RM Sotheby’s is estimating that it will bring $3,500,000-$4,000,000. On a related note, can anyone lend me $4 million? You can see more from this sale here.

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.

Maseratis in Monterey

Maseratis in Monterey


1959 Maserati 3500 GT Spyder by Frua

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

We did this a few years ago when there was an abundance of Maseratis on offer during the Pebble Beach auction weekend. It turns out there’s quite a few nice examples being offered this year as well. And there’s nowhere near enough time to feature them all.

This is a 3500 GT, a model produced between 1957 and 1964. It was the company’s first successful GT road car and, really, the first successful production car that Maserati launched. It’s powered by a 3.5-liter straight-six making 217 horsepower with the three Weber carburetors as configured in this car. Introduced as a coupe, coachbuilder Frua designed a single convertible to show the company that a Spyder was a good idea.

As good looking as it is, Maserati chose Vignale’s design instead and that car become the series production 3500 Spyder. That makes this a one-off – and one of only five 3500 GT chassis bodied by Frua. The current restoration was freshened in 2000. Click here for more info.

Update: Sold $605,000.


1956 Maserati A6G/54 Berlinetta by Zagato

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 18, 2017

Photo – Gooding & Company

This car looks loud… like a muffler-less, high-revving car with a heavy clutch. Sort of like a race car with a road car body. Which is kind of what it is. Maserati’s A6G/54 was a road car based on the A6GCS race car and was available between 1954 and 1956. The’re powered by a 160 horsepower, 2.0-liter straight-six.

The aggressive body here is by Zagato, one of only 21 of this model bodied by the coachbuilder. Of those 21, they are broken down by three different variations on this body style. And they were only built in ’55 and ’56. This example was raced in its day and restored recently with it debuting at the 2014 Villa d’Este. It’s rare and should bring between $4,000,000-$5,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Company.

Update: Sold $4,400,000.


1968 Maserati Mistral 4000 Spyder by Frua

Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 18, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

The Mistral was a 2-door Maserati GT car that was built between 1963 and 1970. It replaced the 3500 GT and was replaced by the Ghibli. It’s the perfect 1960s Maserati tourer, a competitor to the likes of the Aston Martin DB6.

Pietro Frua designed the Coupe and the Spyder variants. The Spyders were much rarer, with only 120 built to the Coupe’s 828. There were also three engine choices offered and we’ve already featured a Mistral Spyder with the smallest engine. But the car you see here has the largest: a 4.0-liter straight-six making 265 horsepower. Only 37 of the Spyders were the 4000 model, making it the rarest version of the Mistral.

Restored to as-new condition (with the addition of a second fuel pump), this car has covered 7,000 miles since completion. It is expected to bring between $750,000-$900,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.


1964 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe by Michelotti

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The 5000 GT was an extremely rare Maserati offered in Coupe-only form between 1959 and 1964. It wasn’t even a car the company planned on building: the Shah of Persia liked the 3500 GT but requested Maserati build him one with a modified version of the engine from the 450S race car. So Maserati capitulated, stuffing a 4.9-liter V-8 engine making 325 horsepower under the hood.

Each car was specially built by leading coachbuilders of the day. Designer Giovanni Michelotti built this example for famed American sportsman Briggs Cunningham. Cunningham requested a 5000 GT that resembled the 450S and the result was something that resembled no other 5000 GT (nor any other Maserati). It almost looks like a custom Ferrari of the era.

The restoration dates to the early-1990s. It’s pretty special, and as a one-off version of a production car that only ever saw 33 examples built, it should bring big bucks. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $1,017,500.


2007 Maserati MC12 Corsa

Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 16-19, 2017

Photo – Mecum

The MC12 is the coolest Maserati of the last 25 years – easily. The car was designed around the underpinnings of the Ferrari Enzo. But unlike Ferrari, who doesn’t take their halo cars to the track, Maserati’s entire aim with this project was to return to the FIA GT Championship. Production of road cars began in 2004 and they had to homologate 50 of them to go racing, which they did by the end of 2005.

And racing they went. And it was pretty a successful endeavor – or successful enough that some customers demanded their own track version. So after the 50 road cars were built, Maserati constructed 12 “MC12 Corsa” examples that were track-only versions of their supercar. It’s powered by a 6.0-liter V-12 making 745 horsepower – pretty much the same powerplant from the factory-backed MC12 GT1 race car. These cost nearly $1.5 million when new. We’ll see what it brings in a couple of days. Click here for more info and here for more from Mecum.

Update: Not sold, high bid of $1,700,000.

Aston DBR1

1956 Aston Martin DBR1

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

On their home page, RM Sotheby’s describes the DBR1 as “the most important Aston Martin ever built.” Why’s that? Because David Brown bought Aston Martin in 1947 and set his sights on winning Le Mans. With the DBR1, he finally succeeded, putting his little car company in the spotlight and ensuring its survival for decades to come.

This car is not the Le Mans winning car, but the first of five DBR1s built (chassis #2 triumphed at Le Sarthe). This was built in 1956, there was one example in 1957, one in 1958, and two in 1959. If you’re a big fan of Astons, perhaps this car reminds you a little bit, styling-wise, of the DB3S.

This DBR1 is powered by a reproduction 3.0-liter straight-six developing 302 horsepower. The owner had the engine specially constructed for this car so it could be used in historic events without fear of damaging the original 3.0-liter unit (which peaked at 255 horsepower).

The competition history of this factory race car includes the following:

  • 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans – 14th, DNF (with Tony Brooks and Reg Parnell)
  • 1957 1000km Nurburgring – 6th (with Roy Salvadori and Les Leston)
  • 1957 24 Hours of Le Mans – 34th, DNF (with Salvadori and Leston)
  • 1958 12 Hours of Sebring – 52nd, DNF (with Salvadori and Carroll Shelby)
  • 1958 1000km Nurburgring – DNF (with Salvadori and Shelby)
  • 1958 24 Hours of Le Mans – 34th, DNF (with Salvadori and Stuart Lewis-Evans)
  • 1959 12 Hours of Sebring – 62nd, DNF (with Salvadori and Shelby)
  • 1959 1000km Nurburgring – 1st (with Stirling Moss and Jack Fairman)

What a race history! Tony Brooks, Roy Salvadori, Carroll Shelby, and Stirling Moss all drove this car in period. And it won the 1000km of the Nurburgring (with Moss at the wheel, no less). The current owner, a major Aston Martin collector, has owned this car since 2009. RM hasn’t published estimates at the time of this writing, but it’s possible this one gets tagged with the ubiquitous “Inquire.” Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $22,550,000.

The First DB4GT

1959 Aston Martin DB4GT Prototype

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Asrton Martin DB4, DB5, and DB6 are the best looking of all the classic Astons (though I will forever maintain that the DB7 is the best looking period, especially the convertible). The DB4 was built between 1958 and 1963 until the DB5 took its place.

Among the most sought-after DB4s were the DB4GTs. These were lightweight, short-wheelbase, near-racing spec cars. Nineteen of them sported bodies by Zagato. One of them received a Jet Age body from Bertone. In all, 75 DB4GTs were built – but this is the first.

The GT came with an upgraded engine, a 302 horsepower 3.7-liter straight-six to be exact. Top speed was 151 mph – pretty stout for something pre-1960. The story of this car is that program manager John Wyer took an early DB4 chassis, shortened it, and wrapped it in aluminium to save weight. They tested it at Le Mans and actually entered in the 1959 race. Here’s how it fared:

  • 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans – 52nd (of 53), DNF (with Hubert Patthey and Renaud Calderari)

So maybe that race entrance was a little premature. After Le Mans, Aston converted this car to road spec and pushed it into service as a press car. The first real owner came in 1961 and it turned out to be a relative of the Royal family. The current owner acquired the car in 1986 and had the factory restore it in 1989. Between their original acquisition and now, the car was at one point owned by actor Rowan Atkinson.

At the time of writing, RM has not yet published an estimate for this car. It won’t come cheap, and rightly so. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $6,765,000.

L’Uovo

1950 Ferrari 166 MM/212 Export by Fontana

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

This early Ferrari is certainly a unique design. Check out how short that windshield is. Driving it has to feel as if you are just strapping yourself to an engine and hanging on for dear life. It sort of has a proto-pontoon fender look to it, but it all curves inward at the passenger compartment before the bobbed rear end. It’s aggressive, racy, and screams “competition Ferrari.”

This car was purchased new by the Marzotto brothers in Italy in 1950. It has serious competition history in period, including:

  • 1950 Targa Florio – DNF (with Umberto Marzotto)
  • 1950 Mille Miglia – DNF (with Umberto Marzotto and Franco Cristaldi)
  • 1951 Mille Miglia – DNF (with Giannino Marzotto and Marco Crosara)
  • 1952 Mille Miglia – DNF (with Guido Mancini and Adriano Ercolani)

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t super successful in it’s day, but it still ran at the biggest races in the world. After the 1950 racing season the car was rebuilt by Carrozzeria Fontana, with the body you see here having been constructed at that time. Dubbed “L’uovo,” or the egg, it was designed to be aerodynamic and light.

After the 1952 season, the original 166 MM engine was replaced by an engine from Ferrari’s newer 212 Export model, which would mean that it carries a 2.6-liter V-12, which makes 175 horsepower (though this is unclear from the catalog description). In 1953 the car made it’s way into Californian ownership. In 1986, an Italian buyer brought the car home from the U.S. and had it restored. Displayed infrequently, the car has competed in the modern Mille Miglia a few times in the last 20 years.

This one-off, big money Ferrari will go under the hammer next month. For more information, check out RM Sotheby’s site here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Sold $4,500,000.

Voisin C28 Cabriolet

1938 Voisin C28 Cabriolet

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo – RM Sotheby’s

It seems like there is maybe one of Gabriel Voisin’s automobiles that trade hands each year. This year, it looks like this beautiful, windswept C28 Cabriolet is the one you can get your hands on. The C28 was introduced in 1936 and we featured a relative of this car previously.

Voisin used sleeve-valve engines in his cars. This car is likely powered by a 3.3-liter straight-six with a power rating of 102 horsepower. Racing cars they were not. Instead, these were mechanical marvels with beautiful coachwork and sometimes wild interiors. This is one of the more restrained Voisins I’ve seen come up for sale. Part of the reason is that the coachwork was done outside of the factory, something that, while common in its day for cars of this stature, was quite uncommon for Voisin.

The body was designed by R. Saliot, a Voisin service center. They didn’t have the ability to actually build the body, so they outsourced their design elsewhere. This car is one of two with coachwork known to have been designed by Saliot (the other one won Pebble Beach). It was actually applied to this chassis when it was about 10 years old, which is why it looks a little post-war.

It is known that a monk acquired this car before selling it at auction in the late 1960s. Restored in the early 2000s, it comes from a “prominent” collection. Only about 60 C28 Voisins were built and this one is the only one quite like it. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

June 2017 Auction Highlights, Pt. I

We kick of June’s results with one from May, RM Sotheby’s in Villa Erba, Italy. The top sale was the Talbot-Lago Teardrop Coupe we featured. It sold for $3,757,824. The Talbot-Lago T26 we featured was also a million dollar seller, bringing $1,252,608. Would-be million dollar sales that failed to hit their reserves included the McLaren P1 GTR and a previously-featured, Pebble Beach-winning Mercedes-Benz 680 Torpedo Roadster. We’ll give Most Interesting to this 1935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Prototype that brought $3,382,041.

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Our other four feature cars all sold, with the WRE-Maserati leading the way at $814,195. The Aston Martin V8 Vantage Zagato brought $513,569 and the Lancia Delta S4 Stradale a similar $551,147. The other Lancia we featured came in at $313,152. Click here for all of the results from this sale.

H&H Classics is holding two sales in June, the first of which was at the National Motorcycle Museum. The Rover we featured sold for $7,464. As is seemingly always the case, the top seller at this H&H sale was an E-Type, specifically a 1971 Jaguar E-Type Series III Coupe for $67,456. Click here for more results.

Photo – H&H Classics

Now we move to Bonhams Greenwich sale where two of our feature cars failed to sell: the Rickenbacker and Pierce-Arrow. The Rambler we featured sold for $73,700. The Bugatti was a strong seller, bringing $676,000, but it wasn’t enough to be the top sale, which went to this 1990 Ferrari F40 for $877,250 (which, compared the recent F40 prices, was kind of a steal). Complete results can be found here.

Photo – Bonhams

Next up, Aguttes in Lyon. The top sale was this 1993 Mercedes-Benz E60 AMG that brought an impressive $156,885.

Photo – Aguttes

The Venturi we featured failed to sell. Check out complete results here.

Finally: Mecum in Portland. The top sale was this 1968 Chevrolet Camaro Yenko for $395,000.

Photo – Mecum

The Plymouth Savoy we featured failed to sell. Mecum’s site has the rest of the results.

Abarth 1100 Ghia

1953 Abarth 1100 Sport by Ghia

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18-19, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

In 1949, Carlo Abarth jumped off of the sinking ship that was Cisitalia to start his own business… utilizing the leftovers of Cisitalia. It started with sports cars and today is a trim level of sporty Fiats. Abarth only built cars in limited numbers and the 1100 you see here is a one-off.

There was a car called the Abarth 205 and they took a chassis from that car and fitted Fiat’s new 1100 engine to it. The car was sent to Ghia for this incredible Jet Age body, and voila! Originally, Fiat’s 1.1-liter straight-four made about 35 horsepower. Abarth no doubt increased that figure.

This Ghia masterpiece has all the right little details, not to mention a brilliant blue interior that will blow you away because you just don’t expect the vividness it provides. Exhibited initially by Ghia at the 1953 Turin Salon, this car was later shown at the 1954 New York Auto Show by its first owner, who re-christened it the “Vaughn SS Wildcat,” with V-8 underhood.

The car was rediscovered in 1982 and the current owner had it restored in 2015, correct Fiat engine re-installed. It’s an awesome – and remarkably small – 1950s Italian design. You’ll be the only one with anything like it. Click here for more info and here for more from RM Sotheby’s in Monterey.

Update: Sold $891,000.

Talbot-Lago T26 by Franay

1948 Talbot-Lago T26 Grand Sport Cabriolet by Franay

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Villa Erba, Italy | May 27, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Post-war Talbot-Lagos have always been desirable and appreciated cars. This car was shown at concours shows when it was brand new. The fact that it sports body work from one of the most sought-after coachbuilders only strengthens its case.

The T26 Grand Sport went on sale at the end of 1947 and it was a short-wheelbase version of the T26, which was introduced a year earlier. They were the sporty car in Talbot-Lagos catalog and could be had as a race car. Road cars were also constructed, with bodies from Europe’s top coachbuilders. The T26 Grand Sport is powered by a 190 horsepower version of the T26s 4.5-liter straight-six.

Only 29 cars were built on the short wheelbase and only 26 still exist. This chassis was shown at the 1949 Paris Auto Salon. Franay painted it black in 1950 and had its grille updated in 1951. The car sold in 1960 for $800 and wasn’t restored until 2010, a few owners later. This one-off T26 GS will bring slightly more this year than it did in 1960; it has an estimate of $1,300,000-$1,650,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

S/N# 110121.

Update: Sold $1,252,608.