Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 16, 2019
The 1950s were a great time for one-off road racing specials. Returning soldiers saw the light in Europe with their lightweight sports cars and came back with an increased technical know-how to get it done. And that’s what we have here.
Charles Hughes and Kurt Kircher teamed up to build this very pretty special. Kircher was an ex-GM man who helped develop the Powerglide transmission. Hughes was an ex-G.I. who happened to buy a Jaguar XK120. He took it to Kircher, now in Colorado, and used the XK120 engine, a tube-frame chassis, and an MG steering rack to create the first version of the Hughes-Kircher Special. The body was done in aluminum.
After a few years, the car ceased to be competitive. Somehow, the duo got their hands on a Mille Miglia-prepped 300SL race engine and plopped it under the hood. Later, that engine was swapped for a 240 horsepower, 3.0-liter inline-six from a “standard” 300SL. It still has such an engine, just a different one, as the second straight-six was eventually reunited with its factory Gullwing chassis.
This car has raced all over the world and has been in some major collections. It’s been restored and looks as good as any period Ferrari. But it’ll be much cheaper – between $300,000-$400,000 will take it home. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Mecum | Monterey, California | August 15-17, 2019
One-off racing specials were commonplace in the U.S. in the 1950s. Enterprising individuals would take some off the shelf components, drive down the street to the local fiberglass fabricator, and get their self-designed body produced.
Then they’d tear up the tracks in SCCA events for a couple of years. Surely, countless examples of these pieces of mechanical creativity have been lost to time. But a good number remain, including this one, which was originally constructed by George Kopecky using a pre-war Maserati chassis and an aluminum body.
The history thereafter is a little hazy. The catalog description says that the body was bought by Johnny Wright in 1954 and that an upgraded frame was also built. It’s powered by a 5.4-liter V8 from a 1957 Corvette and was clocked at 143 mph in 1957. It’s an interesting build and very of-the-era. You can read more about it here and see more from Mecum here.
Offered by H&H Classics | Buxton, U.K. | July 19, 2018
Photo – H&H Classics
McLaughin started as a carriage building business in 1869. They founded the McLaughlin Motor Car Company in 1907 in Oshawa, Ontario. Then, they formed a partnership with Buick (to use their engines) and eventually were bought out entirely by General Motors. In 1918, they officially became General Motors of Canada Ltd. Beginning in 1923, the Canadian-built cars were branded as McLaughlin-Buick and were sold that way through 1942.
So this is essentially a Canadian-market Buick that was built in Canada. And at some point, it made its way to the U.K. The Series 40 Special was the entry-level Buick for 1936. It’s powered by a 93 horsepower, 3.8-liter straight-eight. Six different body styles were offered in ’36 with the sedan being far and away the most popular.
This example has been in the same family for the last two decades and shows 88,600 miles. Recent work to the gas tank and braking system mean that this car is ready for the road. It’s a stylish, middle class car from the 1930s and it serves as an interesting history lesson about General Motors. The pre-sale estimate is $18,000-$22,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, U.K. | July 13, 2018
Photo – Bonhams
Bonhams has assembled quite the lineup for their Goodwood Festival of Speed sale. There’s an Aston DB4GT, a DB4GT Zagato, a Blower Bentley, and much, much more. But, to us, this is the most exciting car of the sale. Marendaz existed in England for 10 years: 1926 to 1936. In that time they turned out precious few cars and they are sporty.
This car, the 13/70, was available from 1932 through 1934. It’s powered by a 2.4-liter Continental straight-six rated at 70 horsepower. The factory used this engine but slimmed it down when new to 1.9-liters for tax purposes. So this car has the “correct” engine, but just not in the same specification it would’ve had when new. It’s got open four-seat coachwork with exhaust reminiscent of a Mercedes Type S.
Despite offering nearly 15 different models over the course of the short decade that Donald Marcus Kelway Marendaz’s company existed, they managed to only build between 80 and 120 cars in total. They’re sporty, very rare, and the entire history reminds one of manufacturers like Arab, Squire, and Alta. It’s an interesting old sports car for sure and the price should fall in the $93,000-$110,000 range. You can read more here and see more from Bonhams here.
Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Palm Beach, Florida | April 12-15, 2018
Photo – Barrett-Jackson
The name of the entry-level Kaiser automobile seemed to change every year. In 1953 it was the Deluxe. In 1954 it was the Special (it was different in ’52 and ’55 too). And some of those 1954 Specials were just rebadged 1953 Deluxes that were left over (they also had some styling tweaks applied as well). The Special could be had as a four-door sedan or a two-door Club Sedan.
The Special is powered by a 3.7-liter straight-six making 118 horsepower. This car is one of the 1953 carry-over cars. It still sports the “jet airscoop” front grille that marked all 1954 Kaisers (which was added by the factory before sale) but you can tell it is a “first series” car because the rear glass is a single piece that does not wrap around to the sides.
About 3,500 1953 Kaisers were carried over and sold as 1954 Specials. The number of actual 1954 cars is much, much lower. But the Club Sedan is definitely the rarer of the two body styles. This car has had a cosmetic restoration and an engine rebuild, but the interior is original. These Kaisers are beautiful and rare cars that will stand out at any cruise-in you attend. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach lineup.
The era of the Special – a unique, one-off automobile based around something else – is long gone. People just don’t do it anymore. Today, if someone wants a custom car they either customize a car they’ve purchased but leave it largely intact, start a company in hopes of building a supercar, or build a kit car. But Russell Mexone is one of very few people who just build their own cars.
He had already constructed two other specials before building this one in the early 1990s. He took a 1978 Jaguar (hence the car’s year listed above) and made a body for it. The 5.3-liter V-12 (yes, this is a 12-cylinder car) made 265 horsepower when new in 1978.
The car was made street legal prior to it being sold to its second owner sometime around 2010. The aluminium body was handcrafted thereafter by a Scottish company. A lot of money has been put into this and it is expected to bring between $23,000-$28,500. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Brightwells | Bicester, U.K. | April 5, 2017
Photo – Brightwells
Michael McEvoy was an engineer who founded McEvoy Motorcycles in Derby in 1925. The company produced very fast motorcycles through 1929, when the money behind the company was killed racing on the Isle of Man. McEvoy moved on but eventually came back around to motorized transport and produced this, the McEvoy Special.
Based on the Wolseley Star/Morris Minor of the late 1920s/early 1930s, the McEvoy Special shared those cars’ mechanicals but sported a body from Jensen. This seemingly tiny car will seat four and cost £149 when new.
This particular Special is based on a 1932 Morris Minor and is powered by that car’s 847cc straight-four that made 20 horsepower in Morris form. McEvoys could be had as a standard “Model 60” or, when fitted with an upgraded carburetor, a “Model 70.”
This car has known history back to 1962. The owner put it in a museum in 1973 where it underwent a 16 year restoration. It exited the museum in 1989 and has been used extensively since. Coming out of 55 year ownership, this car – one of about 60 built – should bring between $18,000-$22,000. Oh, and after WWII, McEvoy found himself in Germany where he played an active part in saving Volkswagen’s factory from destruction and ensuring the marque’s future. No big deal. Click here for more info.
1935 Armstrong Siddeley Special Mk II Touring Limousine
Offered by H&H Classics | Duxford, U.K. | March 29, 2017
Photo – H&H Classics
Armstrong Siddeley was a company that came together when two other companies merged. Those companies were Armstrong Whitworth and Siddeley-Deasy. Each of those companies were the result of a merger of two other companies. Basically Armstrong Siddeley was the culmination of four different, earlier, automotive companies.
Armstrong Siddeley began in 1919 and produced cars until 1960. From that point on, they focused on aircraft and aircraft engines. Through a series of mergers, they are now part of Rolls-Royce (the aircraft company).
This Special is one of the rarest Armstrong Siddeleys ever built. It was introduced in 1932 and went on sale for 1933, being sold through 1937. Only 253 were built. It’s powered by a 5.0-liter straight-six that offered pretty good performance for its day. This would’ve been their attempt to compete with the likes of Rolls-Royce.
This particular car was a factory demonstrator and is one of about 30 cars that are still in existence. Recently, it was owned by the a trustee of the National Motor Museum and the head of the Armstrong Siddeley Heritage Trust. It runs and drives, but needs a little work to be roadworthy. It will sell at no reserve and you can find more about it here (and more from H&H Classics here).
This is not an MG, nor is it a Morgan. It’s not even a one-off special, if you can believe it. The Vale Engineering Co. LTD. of London was in existence only briefly, from 1932 to 1936. It was founded by Pownoll Pellew who later in life became a Viscount.
The first cars were based around Triumph mechanicals and this car, like many, is powered by a Triumph-sourced 832cc straight-four which likely produced somewhere around eight taxable horsepower. Thing was, they weren’t powerful or quick enough (top speed was 65 mph) for sports car racing and didn’t offer enough ground clearance for trials racing – but they were good, sporty road cars that exhibited great handling.
Later cars could be had with larger engines, but by then it was too late. In total, 103 Vales were produced and less than 30 survive today. No estimate is provided, likely because they don’t trade hands often enough, but look for it to bring much more than its as-new price of £192. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Las Vegas, Nevada | October 13-15, 2016
Photo – Barrett-Jackson
The first Buick Special was introduced in 1930. For 1936, it was redesigned and gained more of the look of the car you see here – except that this is a very rare, specially-bodied car by Brewster of Long Island. The Special would continue in Buick’s lineup (taking a few years off here and there) until 1969.
The 1938 Series 40 Special is powered by a 107 horsepower 4.1-liter straight-eight. With the Special being a full-size car, it was still Buick’s entry-level model. The cheapest 4-door Series 40 cost $1,022 in 1938 – but you can bet this car cost a lot more.
It’s always interesting to see the chassis people chose to have a coachbuilt body applied to. In this case, it was a popular one and the beautiful end result makes for a very special Special. You can read more about this car here and check out some other no reserve cars from Barrett-Jackson here.