Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Online | June 23-30, 2021
The 1950s was the golden era of fiberglass. And Jim Byers took full advantage of it in El Segundo, California, in 1955 when he designed the SR-100. This body was constructed of fiberglass and was meant to fit over a 100-inch wheelbase. He sold the molds to Victress in 1960.
Approximately 25 bodies were produced in that time, and only 10 are known to still exist. This one is fitted on a modified 1949 Ford chassis and features independent suspension. Power is from a 4.3-liter Chevrolet V8 that is mounted behind the front suspension, which technically, I guess, makes this car mid-engined.
It’s a pretty great example of a rare, cool, old sports car. The pre-sale estimate is $60,000-$70,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
The BMW 502 was the V8-powered version of BMW’s six-cylinder 501. The 501 went on sale in 1951 and the 502 in 1954. Confusingly, there was also a “501 V8” model sold, with a detuned version of the 502’s.
The 502 was also better appointed than the 501, which made it expensive. They only sold 190 in the first sales year. The standard body style was a sedan, but Baur-built coupes and cabriolets were also available. This car is one of 57 cabriolet examples.
This one is powered by a 3.2-liter V8 sourced from a later BMW 3200L. The 502 was Germany’s first post-war V8-powered car. With a single carburetor, this engine was rated at 140 horsepower when new. The removed factory 2.6-liter V8 is included with the car.
This car was restored between 2011 and 2013, and it looks pretty fantastic. It’s been at Pebble Beach and is being offered out of a museum. The bidding is already at $125,000 as of this writing, and it is scheduled to end two days from this posting. Click here for more info.
Offered by Historics Auctioneers | Ascot, U.K. | May 15, 2021
A few weeks ago we featured a Nash Metropolitan, which is what this car is usually referred to as. But, it was actually built under four different brands including Nash, Hudson, Metropolitan, and Austin. The easy way to identify an Austin is the right-hand-drive layout.
Actually, Austin built them all and then shipped most of them to the States for sale by Nash/Hudson/AMC. Metropolitans aren’t uncommon in the US (I love them), but the Austin version sure is. This one is still in England though.
Power is from a 1.5-liter inline-four (sourced from the Austin A50 Cambridge) that made about 68 horsepower. While the Metropolitan launched in the US in 1953, they didn’t go on sale in the UK until the very end of 1956, making this a very early UK model. Austin-branded production continued through 1959. There were no ’60 models in the UK, and 1961 cars were just known as “Metropolitans” as they were in the US. Both coupes and convertibles were available.
This one looks good and should bring between $20,000-$25,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Auburn, Indiana | September 3-5, 2020
Frank Kurtis built quite a few race cars in his day, but he only built one 500E. In fact, he only built three cars in 1956 in total, two of which were Novi-powered 500Fs. The E was produced for the Federal Engineering race team, and it was an evolution of the earlier 500D, except the engine was tilted to the left and the fuel cap shifted places on the tail.
The engine would’ve been an Offenhauser inline-four. The car currently houses a mock-up of an Offy, but it’s not actually powered. The competition history for this chassis includes:
1956 Indianapolis 500 – 7th (with Bob Veith)
1957 Indianapolis 500 – DNQ (with Billy Garrett)
1958 Indianapolis 500 – 14th, DNF (with Bob Christie)
1959 Indianapolis 500 – 14th, (with Jimmy Daywalt)
1960 Indianapolis 500 – 17th (with Shorty Templeman)
1961 Indianapolis 500 – 10th (with Norm Hall)
1962 Indianapolis 500 – 21st, DNF (with Chuck Hulse)
1964 Indianapolis 500 – Never arrived
Yeah, it was raced at Indy, a lot. It was supposed to go back in ’64, but they never ended up preparing it. The car’s trail went cold, until John Snowberger, went on the hunt for his dad’s old race cars (his father, Russ, was Federal Engineering’s crew chief for many of those Indy appearances). He found a rusty old frame in a Detroit-area shop, which later turned out to be the remains of the 500E. It has been semi-restored, and is now expected to bring between $90,000-$120,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Mecum | Indianapolis, Indiana | July 10-18, 2020
Rambler is one of the most confusing American automotive marques. The first Ramblers were produced in 1900. They would become a product of the Jeffrey company in 1914, and Jeffrey became Nash during WWI.
Nash would later produce Rambler-branded cars, up until 1958, when Rambler became its own marque again (before once more becoming a model under the AMC brand). The 1956 Rambler was completely redesigned, and some seem to think it was its own marque beginning in 1956. The ’56 and ’57 Ramblers were pretty cool looking, especially in wagon form as shown here.
Power is from a 3.2-liter inline-six that was factory rated at 130 horsepower. Production totals are hard to come by for the $2,326-when-new Cross Country wagon, as the totals are combined with the mid-level Rambler Super Station Wagon. Between the two models, 21,554 were built. Turquoise is one of the best 50s colors, making this wagon a winner. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Bonhams | Knokke-Heist, Belgium | October 5, 2018
Photo – Bonhams
Elva Engineering Co. Ltd. was founded by Frank Nichols in 1955. The first series of cars, the Mk I, were based on a previous Nichols creation, the CSM, and were sold as bare rigid tubular chassis with a live rear axle. Some assembly required.
In 1956 the Mk I/B was introduced and it came with an engine – a 1.1-liter Coventry Climax straight-four. The streamlined fiberglass body was actually built by Falcon Shells and it’s estimated that only 14 were built. This example was road raced around the Midwest its first owner, seeing track time at the likes of Road America and more.
This car was expertly restored in the early 2000s and still shows very well. It is thought to be the final Mk I/B built and is expected to bring between $160,000-$260,000 at auction. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Bonhams | Carmel, California | August 24, 2018
Photo – Bonhams
The Fina Sport was a dramatic and beautiful American-built, Italian-styled, 1950s dreamboat designed and constructed by automotive engineer Perry Fina. Fina gained a lot of knowledge working for Fiat and Isotta Fraschini – both in their early years – before returning home and setting up shop in New York to fine tune other people’s cars.
The first model he built under his own name was a coupe and then he opted for a convertible. Styled by Vignale in Italy, it clearly blends American and Italian lines. Power comes from a 5.4-liter Cadillac V-8 good for 250 horsepower.
Fina only built a few cars and this is the only restored example in existence. The restoration was completed earlier this year and it’s ready and eligible for all the major shows. A rare car from a manufacturer that barely got anything out the door, this convertible should bring between $750,000-$950,000 at auction. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.
Offered by Brightwells | Bicester, U.K. | June 24, 2018
Photo – Brightwells
Derek Buckler was one of many enterprising Britons who wanted to build light sports cars in the aftermath of WWII. Based in Reading, he set up shop in 1947 and managed to churn out about 400 cars through 1962. The intended destination for his cars were race tracks.
These are not common cars today. As you can see, they are tiny and look a little basic. But this two-seat roadster made up for any design demerits while on track. The Mk V is powered by a 1.2-liter straight-four from a Ford Prefect. Top speed? 80 mph.
The Mark V was the first car Buckler built (but so named so others wouldn’t know), becoming available in 1949 and lasting through 1955. A slightly lengthened Mk VI was also offered. This would be a great car for hillclimbing and welcomed at most such events. It should bring between $8,000-$10,500. Click here for more from Brightwells.
Offered by Barrett-Jackson | Palm Beach, Florida | April 12-15, 2018
Photo – Barrett-Jackson
DeSoto was introduced as a new marque by Walter Chrysler for the 1929 model year and in 1933 Chrysler took it upmarket. In 1955 they introduced the Fireflite as their top-level car. For 1956 the cars were mostly carried over, but the introduction of the Adventurer put the Fireflite as the mid-level car in DeSoto’s lineup.
For 1956 the Fireflite could be had in four different body styles (plus a limited package on the convertible to commemorate the car’s use as the Indy 500 Pace car in 1956). A non-Pacesetter Convertible would’ve run you $3,454 in 1956 and 1,485 were built (pace cars included).
Power came from a 255 horsepower, 5.4-liter V-8. A no expense spared frame-off restoration was performed and the car wears two-tone Shell Pink and Charcoal. It looks like ice cream on wheels. DeSoto Convertibles always bring big money at Barrett-Jackson auctions, but most of those are ’57 or ’58 cars. It’ll be interesting to see if this beautiful car brings as much. It is coming from the famous John Staluppi Cars of Dreams Collection. You can read more here and see more from this sale here.
Offered by Mecum | Houston, Texas | April 5-7, 2018
Photo – Mecum
Here is one of the loveliest American cars of all time. When it was released in 1956, it was the most expensive car sold in America. In 1956 the base price was $10,400 – the same as a Rolls-Royce and double the price of a Cadillac. And this was no Lincoln. Ford knew they were making a special car and created the Continental Division to produce this car under a separate marque.
It was so opulent that it only lasted two years, through 1957. It’s powered by a 285 horsepower, 6.0-liter V-8 (the ’57s got 300 horsepower). While Mark IIs look best in white (opinion) I really love this 1950s pastel blue with wide whitewalls. The interior is the same shade of blue, mixed with white.
In beautiful condition, this Mark II was once owned by socialite Lolita Armour. It’s one of just 2,550 examples built in 1956 and one of only 2,996 built in total. They’re rare, but they’re around. Click here for more info on this one and here for more from Mecum in Houston.
Update: Not sold, high bid of $42,000.
Update: Not sold, Mecum Indy 2018, high bid of $35,000.
Update: Not sold, Mecum Harrisburg 2018, high bid of $40,000.