Ferrari 512 BB LM

1981 Ferrari 512 BB LM

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 13-14, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Ferrari has had historical success with prototype racing cars (though none in a while), but their success with taking their road cars and turning them into race cars has been pretty spotty. Sure, the 550/575 had GT racing versions, and they’ve been a little more serious since the 458, but nothing really mind-blowing. Or that famous. Well, until you get back to this car.

Ferrari’s 512 BB went on sale in 1976, and the fuel-injected 512 BBi replaced it in 1981. Luigi Chinetti (the famed American Ferrari importer and founder of NART, the North American Racing Team), had been running home-grown 365 GT/4 BB-based race cars in the late 1970s. When they finally ran out of steam, Chinetti convinced Ferrari to develop a racing variant of the 512. Ferrari built four Series 1 cars in 1978. In 1980, they introduced the Series 3 512 BB LM. Sixteen examples were built, and this is number 10.

Ferrari didn’t run the cars themselves but sold them to various independent racing teams to operate. The S3 LM was powered by a 5.0-liter flat-12 making 480 horsepower. This car was the last Ferrari sold to or raced by Chinetti’s team, and its competition history includes:

  • 1981 24 Hours of Le Mans – 23rd, DNF (with Alain Cudini, Philippe Gurdjian, and John Morton)
  • 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans – 9th (with Cudini, Morton, and John Paul Jr.)

It was supposed to appear at Le Mans in 1983, but the team folded before that could happen. Instead, the car bounced between a series of collections and has been active in historic racing. No pre-sale estimate is yet available, but you can read more about it here and see more from this sale here.

Update: Not sold.

March 811

1981 March-Ford-Cosworth 811

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | May 22, 2021

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

March Engineering debuted on the Formula One grid in 1970. Their best years were their early years, and they left after a points-less 1977. March reappeared in 1981, and then packed up their ball again and went home after 1982. They reappeared yet again in 1987 and raced as Leyton House Racing in 1990 and 1991 before a final season as March in 1992.

The 811 was their car for the 1981 season. It featured a 3.0-liter Ford-Cosworth DFV V8, which on this example was recently rebuilt. The competition history for this chassis, 811-05, includes:

  • 1981 Spanish Grand Prix – 16th (with Derek Daly)
  • 1981 French Grand Prix – 19th, DNF (with Daly)
  • 1981 German Grand Prix – 21st, DNF (with Daly)
  • 1981 Austrian Grand Prix – 11th (with Daly)
  • 1981 Dutch Grand Prix – 20th, DNF (with Daly)
  • 1981 Italian Grand Prix – 12th, DNF (with Daly)
  • 1981 Canadian Grand Prix – 8th (with Daly)

It was later campaigned in the 1982 British Formula One championship and in the final few races of the 1982 Can-Am season, during which it was modified to look more like a sports car. It was restored to its 1981 F1 glory in 1988 and has been active on the historic circuit. It is expected to bring between $300,000-$400,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $335,000.

Lancia Montecarlo Group V

1981 Lancia Montecarlo Turbo Group V

For Sale by Girardo & Co.

Photo – Girardo & Co.

The Lancia Beta was a front-engine, front-wheel-drive coupe introduced in 1972. Lancia really switched things up in 1974 with the Beta Montecarlo, a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive coupe or targa. It shared very little with other Betas, and by 1980 they dropped the “Beta” part of the name, and it was thereafter known as just the Montecarlo. The targa model was sold as the Scorpion in the U.S. in 1976 and 1977.

The Montecarlo Turbo was a racing variant built to compete in the FIA’s Group 5 class. This silhouette race car shared the road car’s center body section and engine block, and that’s about it. Power is from an Abarth-sourced turbocharged 1.4-liter inline-four that was good for 460 horsepower.

The specific competition history for this chassis is not clear, but the program was a success overall, leading Lancia to continue on with the LC1 and LC2 prototype racers. You can read more about this car here.

Lotus 88B

1981 Lotus 88B

Offered by BH Auction | Tokyo, Japan | January 12, 2020

Photo – BH Auction

Back when you were allowed to be innovative when designing racing cars, Formula One went through an era where ground effects were all the rage. It started in the late 1960s and peaked in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Things were getting pretty wild, and eventually, F1 cracked down, banning moveable aerodynamic devices.

Colin Chapman’s Lotus first started the wave, and they sort of ended it with this car, which was designed for the 1981 season. It features a twin-chassis layout that allows the standard chassis to hunker down at speed, while the second chassis works on mechanical grip. The other F1 teams were not amused and protested this car at every event. It practiced at the first two events, and later at the British Grand Prix (in 88B form), but it never raced.

Finished in John Player livery, the cars were used by drivers Nigel Mansell and Elio de Angelis in practice. Only two examples were built, and they’re powered by Ford-Cosworth 3.0-liter V8s. It is eligible for pretty much any historic F1 event and is being offered from a private Japanese collection. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

TVR Taimar

1981 TVR Taimar

Offered by H&H Classics | Buxton, U.K. | November 28, 2018

Photo – H&H Classics

The M Series was a line of cars produced by TVR in the 1970s, specifically between 1972 and 1979. Models included the 1600M, 3000S, and this, the Taimar. But this car is listed as a 1981, you say. Yes, we’ll get to that.

The Taimar was a hatchback powered by a 3.0-liter V6 that made 142 horsepower. It was the second-to-last M Series car to be introduced, going on sale in late 1976. Only 395 examples were built through 1979.

This car is listed as a 1981 because it was the final Taimar registered in the U.K. – and likely wasn’t first registered until 1981. At any rate, it’s described as being in good condition and should sell for between $9,000-$12,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $11,198.

Matra Murena

1981 Talbot-Matra Murena

Offered by Osenat | Fontainebleau, France | October 20, 2018

Photo – Osenat

The Bagheera was a 2-door sports car produced by Matra (technically Matra-Simca, then Talbot-Matra once Chrysler Europe sold out to PSA). The successor to that car was this, the Murena, which was technically marketed as the Talbot-Matra Murena but is often referred to simply as the Matra Murena. It was available from 1980-1983.

Different specifications were available, and this example is a base trim car with a 1.6-liter straight-four capable of 88 horsepower. Top speed was 113 mph, so consider it more of a hot hatch than a die-hard sports car.

It’s an interesting little car from a dying manufacturer. There was no successor to the Murena, as it was Matra’s final original road car. Only 5,640 of the 10,680 units produced had the 1.6-liter engine. This is a cheap way to buy an unusual classic sports car and get into the car collector world. It should bring between $9,000-$11,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

Renault 5 Turbo

1981 Renault 5 Turbo

Offered by Silverstone Auctions | Silverstone, England | July 29-30, 2017

Photo – Silverstone Auctions

The Renault 5 was a hatchback built by the French company in two different series, the first lasting from 1972 through 1985 (though the early cars don’t resemble this one at all). A second generation was built between 1984 and 1996. There was nothing particularly sporty about the 5 – some used engines as small as 782cc.

Rallying was the place to be seen in 1980s Europe, and Renault wanted a part of the action. They developed the 5 Turbo as a rally car. It was essentially nothing like the front-engined, front-wheel drive 5 hatchback, as these are mid-engined, rear-wheel drive cars. The engine is a 1.4-liter turbocharged straight-four that made 158 horsepower. It was a serious hot hatch – one of the first such factory specials.

In order to take it rallying, Renault built some road-going models as well. This is one of 3,576 of the original 5 Turbos. This car was delivered new to Switzerland and sports a brilliant two-tone blue paint scheme (which is a respray) and awesome 1980s-style “Turbo” graphics. This 40,000 mile example should bring between $92,225-$105,400. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $97,512.

1981 Stutz Sedan

1981 Stutz IV Porte

Offered by Auctionata | Berlin, Germany | December 15, 2016

Photo - Auctionata

Photo – Auctionata

Harry C. Stutz changed the name of the Ideal Motor Company to the Stutz Motor Company in 1912 (after just one year). They built some of America’s best cars in the 1920s and into the 30s but the company closed their doors in 1935. In 1968, the Stutz name was resurrected by James O’Donnell to build a great new design by Virgil Exner.

The first cars were two-door coupes and convertibles. They began production of a sedan in 1979 called the IV Porte (four door). It was based on the Pontiac Bonneville/Oldsmobile 88 Royale of the era and this car is powered by a 165 horsepower 5.7-liter V-8. Production of the IV Porte stopped in 1981 and was succeeded by the Stutz Victoria.

Only about 50 of this model were ever built. This example has only covered about 2,600 miles and was in a German museum for 30 years. It has a partially gold plated interior, side exhaust and rear mounted spare. These are very distinctive cars and somewhat collectible. The bidding starts at $42,500. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Clenet Series II

1981 Clenet Series II

Offered by Auctions America | Santa Monica, California | June 25-26, 2016

Photo - Auctions America

Photo – Auctions America

In the 1970s and 80s, neo-classics became somewhat popular in the U.S. with their retro styling and modern drivetrains. This trend was exemplified by cars like the Zimmer Golden Spirit, the Tiffany, and even the rebirth of Stutz. And Alain Clenet’s Clenet Coachworks of Goleta, California, was right there in the mix.

Most neo-classics were based around other cars. For example, this one features a Ford V-8 engine. It’s a two-door convertible that seats four and has a lot of tiny, unnecessary details like etched glass and Waterford crystal ashtrays. When new, these cars cost approximately $75,000 and they make great daily drivers if your commute includes a parade route.

This car is all-original and is one of 187 Series II Clenets. The Series II (there were four total) isn’t the best-looking of the bunch (the Series I and IV are both more attractive), but it was the most-produced. This one should bring between $15,000-$20,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $28,000.

Alfetta GTV Grand Prix

1981 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Grand Prix

Offered by Artcurial | Paris, France | February 8, 2014

1981 Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Grand Prix

Photo – Artcurial

Here’s the other limited edition Alfetta GTV we’re featuring. It’s a “Grand Prix” special edition. It was built to commemorate Alfa Romeo’s return to Formula One, which occurred in 1981.

Underneath, it’s all Alfetta GTV. The engine is a 2.0-liter straight-four making 128 horsepower. Between 1981 and 1982, only 650 examples were made and this one has low miles. It should sell for between $11,000-$16,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of Artcurial’s lineup.

Update: Sold $14,477.