Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 13-14, 2021
The “Junk Formula” was an era of the Indianapolis 500 that lasted from 1930 through 1937. It allowed for a much wider variety of cars at the track, which had the effect of increasing field sizes. It also encouraged race car builders to use production car parts. A mechanic from Saginaw, Michigan, named Jack Mertz decided to build his own Indy car. Using a Hudson chassis, he bodied this car himself.
Under the hood is a 4.2-liter inline-eight capable of 150 horsepower. Mertz then drove the car from Saginaw to Indianapolis to enter the 1932 race. But he arrived too late and missed the field. The following year, Mertz sold the car to a Detroit car dealer named Lawrence Martz, who then named the car after himself. The competition history for the “Martz Special” includes:
1933 Indianapolis 500 – 15th, DNF (with Gene Haustein)
1934 Indianapolis 500 – 30th, DNF (with Haustein)
It actually crashed during the ’34 race, and by the end of the decade the trail of this car went cold. That is, until the 1970s when it was discovered. The restoration was done in the early 1980s, and the car was shown at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours. It is now expected to bring between $250,000-$350,000 and will sell without reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Historics Auctioneers | Ascot, U.K. | May 15, 2021
The Lanchester Motor Company was founded in 1899 by the three Lanchester brothers: George, Frederick, and Frank. They sold their first cars in 1901, and the company was acquired by BSA in 1931. The last cars were produced in 1955, and the brand name was acquired by Jaguar in 1960 and has remained with the Jag through its various acquisitions.
The 30HP Straight Eight was designed by George Lanchester and was sold between 1929 and 1932. Power is from a 4.4-liter SOHC inline-eight rated at 30 taxable horsepower. As we all know, 1929 was a poor year to launch a high-end new car (see Duesenberg; also see Lanchester’s subsequent 1931 takeover by BSA).
Only 126 examples of the Straight Eight were built. This one was re-bodied in the 1960s in its current style and is one of the final examples produced. The pre-sale estimate is $97,000-$111,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 7-17, 2021
LaSalle was Cadillac’s “companion marque,” and it launched in 1927. After Pontiac, it was the most successful marque of GM’s companion program with production continuing through 1940. A 1941 LaSalle mockup was produced but never entered production, and instead, it became the 1941-only Cadillac Series 63.
The brand produced V8-powered cars for the entire run, and styling was certainly derivative of Cadillac’s (or, you know, the same). It was, and looks like, a junior Caddy. The Series 345B was 1932’s model and the successor to 1931’s 345A. It was more or less identical to the V8 Cadillac of the same year. I mean, the differences were extremely subtle. Power is from a 5.8-liter V8 rated at 115 horsepower.
Two wheelbases were offered, and this is the shorter of the two, on which four body styles were available. The five-passenger Town Coupe sold for $2,545 when new (Cadillac’s V8 five-passenger coupe cost an extra $400). Only 3,290 LaSalles were built in 1932, and they did not have as good a survival rate as their Cadillac counterparts. You can read more about this one here and see more from Mecum here.
Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | October 30, 2020
Well here’s a new class of vehicle we haven’t featured before. The Showman’s Road Locomotive. It’s basically a steam traction engine that is made to go down the road, helping transport a circus or carnival. And then once it gets to where it’s going, it’s the powerplant for the show. They are very large and very ornate.
This one was manufactured by John Fowler & Co. of Leeds. The company built four B6 “Super Lion” road locomotives. These were the last such machines built, as steam’s popularity was on the wane. The last road locomotive ceased operation in 1958, and most of them ended up scrapped. This example is the first of the four Super Lions, two others of which also survive.
When new, it was used to power carnival rides until it was retired in 1946. It had two owners between 1950 and 2018, and it was restored over a two-year period in the mid-1990s. Like many other showman’s locomotives, it features a full canopy, a front dynamo, and a lot of brass.
Steam traction engines are impressive beasts in the own right, but once you add this sort of over-the-top glamour to them, they really just become awe-inspiring. This one is expected to sell for between $1,000,000-$1,600,000. Why not? Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020
Franklin, whose air-cooled cars first hit the market in 1903, decided to move slightly upmarket in the early 1930s with the introduction of a V12 model. This was bad timing, as the economy had crashed, and engineering an entirely new engine was a big financial outlay, one that would not be recouped. Franklin was gone after 1934.
Another thing that happened in the early 1930s was that Franklin switched from “Model 123” nomenclature to actually giving their models names. The Airman was introduced in 1932 and was joined by the Olympic in 1933. The Airman was their only product in 1932, and it was offered in a variety of body styles. Power came from a 4.5-liter air-cooled inline-six making 100 horsepower.
Franklin was America’s most successful manufacturer of air-cooled cars, and this later model is a rarity. This car appears largely original and carries an estimate of $25,000-$30,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Dorotheum | Vosendorf, Austria | August 29, 2020
In 1904, a car company sprang up in Eisenach, Germany, that sold vehicles under the Dixi brand. In 1928, BMW took over that company. BMW dated back to 1916, but they didn’t produce their first car until after taking over Dixi. The Dixi 3/15 was an Austin Seven built under license, and they were branded as BMWs from 1929 through 1932.
The followup to the Dixi 3/15 was the BMW 3/20. That technically makes this the first BMW car, as the Dixi was not initially a BMW. It still used the Austin engine – a 788cc inline-four making 20 horsepower. The car itself was larger than its predecessor and was built in four versions, with this, the AM1, being the first.
The 3/20 was manufactured between 1932 and 1934. These early BMWs are very rare. Most pre-ware Bimmers offered at auction are just 328s. These are unusual. And interesting. It should bring between $14,000-$21,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1932 Duesenberg Model J Convertible Coupe by Murphy
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020
The Walter M. Murphy Company of Pasadena, California, bodied more Duesenberg Model Js than any other coachbuilder, and their most popular body style was this, the convertible coupe. While only 25 were built with a convertible soft top, that was enough to make it the top seller among a very limited production run.
Power, of course, is from a 6.9-liter straight-eight good for 265 horsepower. This car is apparently one of a few Duesenbergs owned by gangster Jake the Barber. It was restored in 1995 and was purchased by the current owner, Keith Crain, about 16 years ago.
Crain is dumping a few classics at this sale, all at no reserve… which is interesting. You can see more about this car here and see more from this sale here.
1932 Duesenberg Model J Stationary Victoria by Rollston
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020
A few weeks ago we featured a Model J Duesenberg with engine number J-490X. The X is said to denote a factory rebuild and restamp. Why they would’ve restamped it with a number of an engine that was already out there in another car is beyond me.
This car is said to retain its original chassis, body, and 265 horsepower 6.9-liter straight-eight engine. The body is by Rollston, and it is a one-off creation that was specially ordered to resemble Rollston’s convertible victoria – but in fixed-roof fashion.
It has known ownership history since new and was “cosmetically restored” at some point in the past. I think that’s another way of saying a body-on restoration. You can see more about this car here and more from this sale here.
Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 9, 2020
So what’s the deal with the engine number on this one? The Model J that carries engine J490 is out there, alive and well. But this car also has a 265 horsepower, Lycoming 6.9-liter straight-eight that has “J490” stamped on it. But it also has an “X”… which most likely means this engine was returned to the factory during the 1930s, rebuilt, restamped, and sold. It probably carried a different number prior to the factory rebuild.
Meanwhile, engine J490 was probably rebuilt separately and used in another car. Remanufactured or not (many of these engines have been rebuilt over the years), this is still a real-deal Duesey engine and a real-deal Model J frame. The body, however, is a reproduction of a Derham Tourster.
This car is said to originally have had a Derham body, but it could’ve been a sedan or something and probably wasn’t one of the original eight Toursters. With this muddled history, the car is expected to fetch between $350,000-$450,000. A bargain. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
1932 Hispano-Suiza J12 Dual Cowl Phaeton by Binder
Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 18, 2020
The J12 was the pinnacle of Hispano-Suiza motorcars. It was introduced in 1931 and replaced the H6 line of cars that dated back to 1919. The model was produced by the French arm of the company and lasted through the end of Hispano-Suiza production in 1938.
It’s powered by a 9.4-liter V12 equipped with two carburetors and good for 220 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. It was no slouch in its day. This car carries beautiful dual cowl phaeton coachwork from Binder. Of the 114 examples of the J12 built, only 10 survivors are open cars.
Provenance is where this car really shines. It was purchased by Briggs Cunningham in 1954. It later made its way to the Collier Collection in Florida, where it remained until it went back to the West Coast in 1988, entering the Blackhawk Collection. That’s where the current owner bought it in the 1990s. That’s quite the lineage. The expected price tag is $1,500,000-$2,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.