Offered by Bonhams | Gstaad, Switzerland | July 3, 2022
This coachbuilt beauty is one of 28 constructed by the Beutler brothers, coachbuilders based in Switzerland. It’s based on a Volkswagen Beetle and was designed and produced before the Karmann Ghia. Basically, Beutler saw the potential for a rear-engine sports car based on VW mechanicals before VW did.
The engine is a 1.2-liter flat-four good for 31 horsepower. So “sports” car is a bit optimistic. But nothing Volkswagen made was “fast” until much later. The engine is mounted out back in a lovely upholstered compartment.
The issue was that this cost more than a Porsche 356 when new (and 2.5 times more than a Beetle). This car was restored over an 11-year period ending in the 2000s. It hasn’t been used or shown much since, and it now carries an estimate of $80,000-$120,000. Click here for more info.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Phoenix, Arizona | January 27, 2022
Devin Enterprises of Southern California was one of America’s leading kit car companies of the 1950s. Various models were offered, including a couple of turn-key ones. In late 1961, they introduced the C, which used a Corvair-sourced engine.
In this car, which was a turn-key factory-built example, power comes from a Corvair flat-six, the size of which isn’t even mentioned in RM’s auction write-up. Apparently, back in the day, this car was used by the Granatelli brothers for supercharger testing at Bonneville. Pretty awesome. It also appeared at drag strips, setting a quarter-mile time of 12.44 seconds at 109 mph in period.
The current non-supercharged engine was installed during a 2010s restoration. RM estimates that about 21 Cs were built, with about 19 remaining. This one carries a pre-sale estimate of $70,000-$90,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
The Jensen 541 was a GT car produced by Jensen Motors between 1954 and 1959. In 1957, Jensen added a 541R to the range, and upgrades included four-wheel disc brakes and rack-and-pinion steering.
In 1960, both the base car and the R were replaced by the 541S, which was a luxury version. The S was in turn replaced by the C-V8 in 1963. The 541R was powered by the same 4.0-liter Austin inline-six as the base car, but it was fitted with twin carburetors for a rating of 150 horsepower.
The body is fiberglass, and this car features a two-tone paint scheme with the wheels being the same color as the roof. Only 193 examples of the 541R were built. This one should bring between $62,000-$76,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Paris, France | February 13, 2021
The Fiat 600 was introduced in 1955 and would remain in production until 1969. It was the basis for Fiat’s 500 and was available as a two-door fastback and a mini-MPV called the Multipla. They built over 2.5 million of them. But this example is no ordinary, somewhat-dumpy Fiat 600.
The famed Italian coachbuilder Vignale decided that they wanted to take this near-microcar and make it look like a fancy, two-door coupe. Its classy looks make it look a lot bigger than it is, and it isn’t made clear if this car has a 633cc inline-four or the 767cc version. In either case, the engine is mounted out back.
Fewer than 20 of these “Rendez Vous” cars are thought to have been produced, and this one was restored less than 300 miles ago. You can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.
Offered by Mecum | Kissimmee, Florida | January 7-17, 2021
Edsel was only around for three model years, and each year saw fairly different styling. The 1958 cars were the most polarizing, and the 1960 cars are quite pretty but also pretty much forgotten about. The 1959 cars are the most common, and, style-wise, the most mainstream, if you can call them that.
I love them, not as much as the ’58s, but I still find them to be quite stylish cars. Two models were offered in ’59: the Ranger and the Corsair (there were also wagons with different names). The Corsair was the higher-trim level and looked exactly like a Ranger. It just had a bigger engine and some styling/equipment differences. This car is powered by a non-original 5.9-liter V8. The stock 5.4-liter, 225-horsepower V8 is missing.
Only 1,343 Corsair convertibles were produced in 1959, making it the rarest body style for the model year. You can read more about this one here, and see more from Mecum here.
Offered by Dorotheum | Vosendorf, Austria | July 10, 2020
Hans Glas had his own car company until he sold it to BMW in 1966. Before that happened, he actually produced cars until two brands: Glas and Goggomobil. The latter was responsible for what were essentially microcars.
The lines started to blur at the 1957 Frankfurt Auto Show when Goggomobil introduced the T600, which was larger than their earlier cars. A more powerful T700 was also offered beginning in late 1958. It was powered by a 688cc flat-twin that made about 29 horsepower. Top speed was 69 mph.
It’s a not-unattractive car, but it’s small. But not small enough, because Glas would rename the T600/T700 the Glas Isar at the end of 1959. The cars lasted until 1965, with 73,311 two-door sedans built. That means a very small percentage were Goggomobil-branded 700s. They are almost unheard of today. You can read more about this car here and see more from this interesting sale here.
AC’s first post-war product was the 2-Litre, a kind of frumpy-looking thing using an engine that dated back to 1922. In 1953, they decided to put a sports car into production that was based on a John Tojeiro design. That same dated 2.0-liter engine was the initial underhood offering, but things soon got more exciting.
Beginning in 1956, AC offered a 2.0-liter inline-six from Bristol that made 120 horsepower. Sadly, this engine was also based on a pre-war design, but it made the car capable of 116 mph, which really upped AC’s sports car cred. They won their class at Le Mans and were popular on the sports car racing circuit. By 1961, a Ford-based 2.6-liter inline-six was offered for a short time. AC also offered a coupe version called the Aceca.
The Ace ceased production in 1963, but by that point, an American called Carroll Shelby had found the car and stuffed a V8 into it and called it the Cobra. The Ace name would also reappear in the 1990s on a different car.
In all, 463 Aces were built with a Bristol powerplant, the most common of the three engines offered. But it’s still rare, and it’s still “one of those cars.” It’s sports car royalty, and it’s for sale by Bonhams for $423,164. Click here for more info.
For Sale by Fantasy Junction | Emeryville, California
I thought we featured this car a long time ago, but apparently not. So here we are. The 1950s were the golden age of this sort of sports racing special. This particular car was named for two gentlemen: Bill Sadler and Van Meyer. The car started as Meyer’s own rail-frame special that he competed with for a number of years.
In 1958, he took that car to Bill Sadler, who ended up building a number of Sadler-branded race cars. He also heavily reworked Meyer’s special. It used a ladder frame and a Pontiac V8. The aluminum body is reminiscent of a period Maserati. Sadler was successful campaigning the car in hillclimb events before eventually selling it.
The car has changed hands a few times and has been restored twice, most recently in 2008. The engine was replaced over the years and is now a 5.6-liter Chevrolet V8 that makes 425 horsepower. Fantasy Junction sold this car once in 2015 (which is probably why I thought we featured it) and now they’ve got it back. It’ll run you $395,000. Click here for more info.
Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | March 29, 2020
Calm down, Austin-Healey lovers. This car started life as a 1959 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk I. Bonhams lists it as an Austin-Healey with “coachwork by Fiberfab,” which is a fancy way to say this big Healey wears a fiberglass body produced in California in the late 1960s, which is roughly when this car was re-bodied.
The engine is a 2.9-liter inline-six that has been rebuilt and tuned to an impressive 285 horsepower. This thing will scoot. Which is good, because it is being marketed as a historic competition car.
The Jamaican was Fiberfab’s best-looking product, and to see one fitted to a Healey is kind of rare. Many were placed on TR3/4, MGA, or even Volkswagen underpinnings. This one is expected to bring between $58,000-$71,000, which might seem like a lot for what some would consider a fiberglass kit car, but a big portion of that estimate is for the car underneath. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.
Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 7, 2020
Charles Deutsch and Rene Bonnet built cars under the Deutsch-Bonnet marque until 1947 when they shortened it to DB. Their HBR5 model was sold between 1955 and 1961, with both road cars and race cars constructed.
The HBR5 was powered by an 848cc flat-twin. Cars with the smaller 747cc flat-twin were dubbed “HBR4,” such as this one here. It was purchased new as a road car and modified by its first owner, Jacques-Edouard Rey, for competition use.
It was successful its first time out, so much so that Rene Bonnet ended up building 10 factory examples. The interesting competition history for this car includes:
1960 Rallye Monte Carlo – DNF (with Andre Guilhaudin and Jacques-Edouard Rey)
1961 24 Hours of Le Mans – 20th (with Guilhaudin and Jean-Francois Jaeger)
The car remained in Rey’s possession until 1989, and it was restored in 1994 to its 1961 Le Mans configuration, which is how it sits today. How many cars have competed in the Monte Carlo Rally and Le Mans? This one should sell for between $155,000-$200,000. Click here for more info and here for more from Artcurial in Paris.