Nash-Healey Coupe

1953 Nash-Healey Le Mans Coupe

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 6-7, 2020

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

The Nash-Healey was one of America’s first post-war sports cars, beating competitors like the Chevrolet Corvette to market by a number of years. The first Nash-Healeys went on sale in 1951 and were only available as convertibles.

The cars were restyled for 1952 to more closely resemble what you see here, and a hardtop model was introduced in 1953. Named the “Le Mans” coupe, the hardtop commemorated Nash-Healey’s podium finish at Le Mans. It cost twice as much as a 1953 Corvette when new and features a body penned by Pininfarina.

Power in this car is from a 4.1-liter inline-six from Nash capable of 140 horsepower. Only 62 coupes were built for 1953, and only 30 are thought to survive. This one was restored in 1994 and is now being sold at no reserve. Click here for more info and here for more from RM in Amelia Island.

Update: Sold $89,600.

Alpine GTA V6

1991 Renault Alpine GTA V6 Turbo Le Mans

Offered by Historics at Brooklands | July 7, 2018

Photo – Historics at Brooklands

Alpine was a car company founded in 1955 by Jean Rédélé. They built rear-engined sports cars, like the A110, and were closely linked to Renault for much of their early history. So closely linked, in fact, that Renault bought Alpine outright in 1973.

The GTA above replaced the Alpine A310 in 1985. This was the first car branded as a Renault (though this car’s successor would revert to just “Alpine”). The Renault Alpine GTA was offered in a few different variations between 1985 and 1991.

Still rear-engined, this GTA “Le Mans” Turbo uses a 2.5-liter turbo V-6 making 200 horsepower. The sprint to 60 mph took 6.7 seconds and top speed was 150 mph. The Le Mans model was introduced in 1990 and 325 were made over the course of about a year. These are rare, pretty cool, and definitely eye-catching cars. This one should bring between $25,000-$35,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $44,738.

Tracta Gephi

1927 Tracta Type A Gephi

Offered by Osenat | Fontainebleau, France | June 18, 2017

Photo – Osenat

It’s interesting when there is a car in an auction catalog with a low estimate of over half a million dollars and it’s online lot list entry consists of a single sentence. Luckily, you can download Osenat’s full catalogs as PDFs and, though they’re in French, it’s possible to glean enough info to know that this is a truly special car.

Automobiles Tracta operated between 1926 and 1934. They specialized in front-wheel drive cars, and this low-slung race car exhibits founder’s Jean-Albert Grégoire’s expertise in that field. The FWD layout offers the ability to mount everything very low, making it look (and operate) a lot faster than most of its competition.

The first example was built in 1926, prior to the company even being founded. A second example was built for the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans, of which the catalog describes in detail. It’s a pretty wild story involving Mr. Grégoire driving the race in bandages the day after suffering a terrible accident. At one point, it seems, he had to pull over and exit the car in pain. Le Mans did their best to outlaw “napping under a tree mid-race” for 1928. It’s very unclear if this car was entered in the 1927 race, but it was for sure in 1928.

It’s race history includes:

  • 1928 24 Hours of Le Mans – 16th (with Roger Bourcier and Hector Vasena)
  • 1929 24 Hours of Le Mans – 15th, DNF (with Lucien Lemesle and Maurice Benoist)

The engine is a 1.0-liter straight-four, probably supercharged. The owner of this car heard it drive past his house in the 1950s and chased it down. Years later, in 1958, he was finally able to acquire it, barely beating out an Italian who was also on the hunt for this very car. It’s been the pride of his collection for 59 years. It’s a wonderfully interesting automobile – one of the sportiest French cars of the 1920s – and it has Le Mans history. It is expected to sell for between $560,000-$790,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $786,394.

Lenham Le Mans

1967 Lenham Le Mans Coupe

Offered by Coys | Birmingham, U.K. | January 14, 2017

Photo – Coys

In 1967 Peter Rix joined Julian Booty’s Vintage Sports Car Garage and they changed the name to the Lenham Motor Company. Their first cars were based around the Austin-Healey Sprite. Racing cars and other models followed. Production ceased in 1982 but the company was revived later on and is still doing some work.

The Le Mans was a GT car based on the Sprite and the engine is likely a 1.3-liter straight-four making in the neighborhood of 65 horsepower (if this particular car is based on a Mk IV Sprite). The body is fiberglass and the car is fully race-prepped for vintage racing.

What makes this car interesting is that it was the final official Le Mans Coupe converted by Lenham. It’s a neat, rare little race car that would be a great way to get into historic racing and it should sell for between $24,500-$30,500. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold (about) $25,723.

Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica

1950 Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | September 10, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

I feel like every time we feature one of Archibald Frazer-Nash’s spectacular automobiles, we have to have the conversation about the word “replica.” In this case, replica refers to a production vehicle modeled after an actual race car the company built. In this case, Frazer Nash built a car for the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans. Because it was successful, they built a run of similar cars for customers.

This example, with known ownership history from new, was first sold in the U.K. in 1950. It is powered by a 2.0-liter straight-six from Bristol making 125 horsepower. One owner has had this car for over four decades. At one point in time, it was owned and raced by famed driver Roy Salvadori.

This was the 20th of 34 built. Frazer Nash only built about 85 cars after WWII, with this model being the most popular. With pre-war production included, Frazer Nash output was only about 400 cars. Not a large amount. But they are among the best of the breed – true sports cars. This example – which is all original – should bring between $760,000-$840,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $785,031.

Vantage V600

2000 Aston Martin Vantage V600 Le Mans Coupe

Offered by Bonhams | Newport Pagnell, England | May 21, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Here is a massively powerful Aston Martin that was never sold in America. Aston had a spotty export record through most of the 1990s, until Ford bought them and started shipping the DB7 stateside. They never bothered with this, as it was very low production.

This car is part of a line of cars that started in 1989 with the Virage coupe. The Vantage was introduced in 1993 and built in very limited numbers through 2000. Almost all were coupes (all but nine that is). The base Vantage came with 550 horsepower. The V600 was powered by the same 5.3-liter supercharged V-8 but instead of 550, it made a monstrous 604 horsepower. Top speed was reported to be 200 mph. It’s a legitimate supercar.

Only 40 Le Mans versions of the Vantage were built and it could be had in base or V600 form. Thirty of them were to V600 specification. This is one of the most powerful and intense cars Aston Martin has ever built and, as an example of this generation Vantage, is one of the last hand-built Newport Pagnell Astons before Ford’s economies of scale production took over. It should sell for between $470,000-$610,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $654,859.

Sunbeam Tiger Race Car

1964 Sunbeam Tiger Le Mans Coupe

Offered by Bonhams | London, U.K. | December 6, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

We’ve featured a Sunbeam Tiger before. That car was a road car – a true cousin to the Shelby Cobra. It’s a simple formula: take a nimble British Roadster and shove a big American V-8 under the hood. But this Tiger is a little different.

For starters, it isn’t a roadster. It’s a fastback and it’s one of only three such Tigers built by the Rootes Group. All three were competition specials – prototypes whose sole purpose was the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans. The body was the work of Brian Lister – no slouch at building competition cars. The engine is a 4.2-liter V-8 from Shelby making 275 horsepower.

This car was the prototype. Once it was deemed competitive in testing, two further cars were built that were sent to Le Mans. This car only saw competition once it was sold and used in privateer hands. It’s passed through a number of hands and has recently competed in the Le Mans Classic and other historic events. It’s the rarest Sunbeam Tiger you’re likely to find and it should bring between $460,000 and $610,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

The 3rd Place Car from the 3rd Race at Le Mans

1925 Lorraine-Dietrich B3-6 Le Mans Torpedo Sport

Offered by Bonhams | Chantilly, France | September 5, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

At one time, Lorraine-Dietrich shared as many 24 Hours of Le Mans victories as did Bentley (actually, they won it two years in a row, so they had more victories than did Bentley. And Porsche. And Audi. Combined). Sure, that year was 1925, the year in which this car competed – and its sister car won – the famed 24 hour race. It was the event’s third such running. Lorraine-Dietrich could trace its automotive roots back to 1896. Their last cars were made in 1935.

The model is the 15CV B3-6 which uses a 3.5-liter straight-six making somewhere from 85 to 100 horsepower. This was a factory Lorraine-Dietrich race car and its race history includes the following:

  • 1925 24 Hours of Le Mans – 3rd (with Henry Stalter and Edouard Brisson)
  • 1925 24 Hours of Spa – 5th (with Stalter and Brisson)

So, a very successful, early racer that continued racing with the factory through 1926 and was still competitive a decade later in the hands of privateers. Strangely, in 1949, the car was taken apart and used as farm equipment, but thankfully it was rescued and restored.

The restoration was completed in 1997 but it still looks great. Imagine how fun this would be at historic racing events. It’s entirely unassuming – unless you knew, you’d never be able to guess that this thing finished on the podium at Le Mans. It should bring somewhere in the huge range of $650,000-$1,100,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Not sold.

The 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans Winner

1982 Porsche 956

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 15-16, 2015

Photo - Gooding & Company

Photo – Gooding & Company

Group C was new for 1982 and a whole new wave of closed coupe prototype race cars came flying out just about of all of the world’s major manufacturers. Porsche (and their 956 and 962 models) defined the Group C age with unrivaled success. The 956 was built between 1982 and 1984, with the 962 replacing it for 1985. They are different cars, but one could be forgiven for not being able to immediately differentiate between the two.

This car is powered by a 2.7-liter twin-turbo flat-6 making 630 horsepower. It is not a slow car. The 956 holds the lap record at the Nürburgring. This was one of 10 Porsche factory race cars and it’s competition history includes:

  • 1982 24 Hours of Le Mans – 2nd (with Jochen Mass & Vern Schupppan)
  • 1982 1000km Spa – 1st (with Jacky Ickx & Mass)
  • 1983 24 Hours of Le Mans – 1st (with Al Holbert, Hurley Haywood, & Schuppan)

It was raced a few times after that and then Porsche sold it to Vern Schuppan who kept it until 1996. The new owner restored the car and it has led a privileged life since, having been kept mostly off the track and in the hands of a few other owners. Only 22 Porsche 956s were built and only 10 were lucky enough to be factory race cars. They do not come up for sale often, and this, a Le Mans winner, is one of the best. It should sell for between $7,000,000-$9,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $10,120,000.

HRG Le Mans Lightweight

1947 HRG Le Mans Lightweight Sports

Offered by Bonhams | Chichester, England | March 21, 2015

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

HRG was founded by three men, none of whom you probably know personally, nor have ever even heard of. Actually, one of them – Ron Godfrey – worked at both Frazer Nash and GN, the cyclecar company prior to co-founding HRG. The first HRG was available in 1936.

They were a sports car company that enjoyed showcasing their products on the track, through their factory racing team, L’Écurie du Lapin Blanc. All HRGs were either 1100 or 1500 models, denoting engine size. This car uses a 1.5-liter straight-four making 60 horsepower and was originally built as an HRG Aerodynamic – one of only 35 built.

It had some early racing success and HRG decided it would be a good car to use to try out a new body. HRG converted three cars to a new style and they competed in the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans. This car DNF’d after 83 laps, finishing 36th with drivers Jack Scott-Douglas and Neville Gee.

After the race, all three cars were sold to the same guy. In 1953, the body was changed to what you see here. The wheelbase was also shortened, if you can believe it, as it already looks quite lengthy. The current owners have had the car for eight years and had it restored. It’s a lovely old race car welcome at many historic events – a place where HRGs excel. In fact, HRG only built 241 total cars and 225 are still around – many of them can still be seen on the track. This one should bring between $250,000-$340,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $243,444.