There are several festivals on Planet Earth which celebrate the history of the automobile with a level of excellence and on a scale so breathtaking that car enthusiasts should attend at least once in a lifetime: the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este on the shores of Lake Como in Italy, Retromobile in Paris, the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, and the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in Florida.
This handful of events attracts a commercially-desirable audience of high net worth individuals that is almost unprecedented. The collector car auction market is now worth two billion dollars a year and it's growing.
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What's more, these five events account for the vast majority of those sales. The largest of these events is in Pebble Beach (aka Monterey and Quail Lodge), which accounted for $400 million last year. Pebble Beach and its rash of auctions accounts for the most really high end cars by a fair margin. Seventy-two of the top 100 cars ever sold at auction (72 percent) were sold in the United States, and more than half were sold in Monterey in August, regardless of the year.
It's part chicken and part egg, but the commercial activity that is growing from these gatherings of high net worth individuals wishing to manifest their wealth in conspicuous automobiles has now caused many major luxury brands to rethink their promotional budgets.
Luxury cars that were once only released at auto shows are now being shown publicly for the first time at these upmarket get-togethers, or increasingly, behind closed doors to the select few that can afford them. Luxury car marketers are increasingly finding that the target market for a $500,000 car is better represented by the thousands of people who attend a major concours d'elegance than the hundreds of thousands who attend a motor show in Paris, Tokyo, Geneva or Frankfurt.
Those companies with ultra exclusive product are only interested in perhaps a few thousand ultra wealthy individuals. They're not easy to get to and they rarely congregate, so the social occasions of Pebble Beach and Amelia Island have become a focal point of luxury marketing.
Next week the twentieth Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance will be staged and three of the world's elite automotive auction houses will conduct significant auctions: Gooding & Company, Bonhams, and the official auction of the concours, which will be held by the newly consummated combination of RM Auctions and Sotheby's.
The newly-inked Sotheby's commitment is the latest and most tangible sign that the $2 billion a year automotive collector car market is heading for $3 billion. Sotheby's has acquired a 25 percent ownership interest in RM Auctions, which will now be known as RM Sotheby's.
Sotheby’s and RM have previously collaborated on a number of successful sales in both the United States and Europe over the last decade, most notably the November 2013 Art of the Automobile auction in New York, which saw nearly $63 million worth of automobilia sold in just two hours.
The RM Sotheby's pairing has already sold eight of the world's top 100 cars at auction including the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider formerly owned by actor James Coburn (above) which was purchased by British TV and radio personality Chris Evans for a then world record price of US$10,894,900 (it actually sold for EUR7,040,000) in May, 2008 at Maranello, the home of Ferrari in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.
Other cars sold by RM Sotheby's on that list include the Le-Mans-winning 1962 Ferrari 330 TRI/LM Spider (US$9,288,469 – EUR6,875,000) at another Maranello auction in 2007, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Speziale Roadster (US$8,106,150 – GBP£3,905,000) in London in October, 2007, a 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Cabriolet by Figoni et Falaschi (US$7,150,000) and a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Competition Berlinetta Speciale (US$7,040,000), both at the aforementioned November 2013 sale, and a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM (US$7,014,433 – EUR 4,510,000) at Maranello in 2008.
The wording of the statements of the two CEOs whose business will become linked is illustrative.
"Sotheby's is thrilled to join the clear market leader in this field," commented Bill Ruprecht, Sotheby’s President, Chairman, and CEO. "RM has established a formidable position that will only be strengthened by this new phase in our relationship. Just last year, RM set a new benchmark for a collector car auction with their flagship Monterey sale totaling more than $140 million, eclipsing the previous record they had established in 2013. The incredible synergy between our businesses, including significant overlap of top collectors and a focus on new markets, will be further strengthened as we work together to expand the classic car collector base. RM’s ownership of the high end of the market coupled with our global client network positions us for great success at a time when the market for investment-quality motor cars has never been stronger."
Rob Myers, Chairman and Founder (the RM in RM), RM Auctions added, "The partnership that has been formed between RM Auctions and Sotheby’s is undoubtedly the most effective way for us to reach the ever-growing worldwide audience of collectors who take a keen interest in the collector car asset class. No other organization in the world has a client base as far-reaching as Sotheby’s and since we have worked so closely and successfully with them in the past, it makes perfect sense that we form a strategic partnership that creates a truly worldwide platform for collector cars. It’s an exciting time in our company history, and for the hobby at large."
Our evolving auction previews
These previews are designed to enable one person to take a quick look at all the significant cars on offer at each round of auctions and link to the auction page regardless of the auctioneer. It's an evolving format and it will continue to get better and offer significantly greater analysis as we move forward.
Going into next week's auction, we count 37 cars we think are capable of achieving a million dollars or more, and those cars are listed below, along with a few others we've thrown in which deserve a mention despite not yet being in the seven figure bracket.
1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pinin Farina
This matching-numbers (engine and chassis) 1960 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet will probably be the most expensive car of week with an estimate of between $6,000,000 and $7,000,000. The car is rare, has just completed a no-expense-spared restoration by marque experts, and proceeds from the car’s sale will support the owner’s foundation for the education of children.
1956 Maserati 200 SIEstimate available upon request to auctioneer
A car that has been in the spotlight throughout its 55 year history, this Maserati 200 SI has the first 200 S chassis produced (Chassis 2401) and was the Maserati factory race team development car during a period when some legendary names drove for Maserati, meaning it has been driven by Stirling Moss, Jean Behra, Guiseppe Musso, Luigi Bellucci and Piero Taruffi.
Chassis 2401 participated in all the great European and South American events during its racing career, capturing podium finishes at Nurburgring, Napoli, Caracas and Bari, and competing in many historic races including the Cuban Grand Prix, Mille Miglia, Monza, Targa Florio, and the Grand Prix of Rome.
Its fine balance and unusual level of feedback earned it a reputation among the racing scene and drivers alike as one of the best handling cars of the 1950s.
Retaining its factory-delivered engine, chassis and bodywork, this 200 SI racecar has enjoyed further success in contemporary American historic events such as the Monterey Historics, the Coronado Speed Festival, the races at Moroso Park and the Shell Historic Challenge, where it captured several First-in-Class finishes.
Not only has it excelled on the racetrack but in various concours as well. In 2005, the 200 SI received Maserati Classiche certification and won its class at the 2010 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. With substantial and thorough documentation, extensive competition history, beautiful, purposeful patina and its distinctively exposed original bodywork, this 1950s two-liter racing car is one of the stars of the 2015 Amelia Island auctions.
This car was sold at Pebble Beach in 2010 for US$2,640,000, one of the top 20 auction sales of that year. It had previously been sold by RM Auctions at Pebble Beach in 2001 when it fetched US$605,000, the 35th highest auction sale of that year. If it achieves similar rankings in 2015, and based on 2014 results, it will sell for between US$3.5 million, and US$6.8 million. This is unquestionably a very significant automobile.
1988 Jaguar XJR-9
This 670 bhp racing Jaguar V12 has an exceptional racing provenance including numerous podiums (top three finishes) in major endurance events and a win in the 1990 Daytona 24 Hour race. The entire history and mechanical specification of the car is detailed on the auction site, but suffice to say that it is the sole remaining example of two purpose-built, IMSA-specification XJR-9s ever built.
If you have time (8 minutes 30 seconds required), take a look at this video featuring the minutiae of the car discussed by RM Sotheby's Max Girardo and ex-Jaguar Works and Daytona-winning driver Martin Brundle.
The car will also be sold with a comprehensive assortment of memorabilia of the XJR-9's race history.
1955 Jaguar D-Type
Estimated $3,750,000 to $4,250,000
Enzo Ferrari once said of the E-Type Jaguar that it was "the most beautiful car ever made." I love Jags, have owned a concours-winning E-type and I disagree. I think the D-Type was the pick of the litter and in terms of painstaking authenticity, this D-Type has a full hand, including a remarkable story verified by tracing its components through two racing cars and back together again. The story is worth a read. This car has been ice-racing (successfully at that), is the only Jaguar D-Type ever to race in the Soviet Union (at the 1961 Leningrad Grand Prix where it won the Formula Libre class), was owned for many years by Swedish Davis Cup (tennis) player Curt Lincoln, and its restoration to nut-and-bolt authenticity was documented in a five-part feature series in Jaguar World Monthly magazine between December 2002 and September 2003. The absolute real deal.
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4
Not quite a barn find, but close, this 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 has been owned by the same family for 43 years and was last registered for road use in 1982. It is hence a wonderfully original example of a significant Ferrari model of which fewer than 300 were built.
The 3.3 liter V-12 of the 275 GTB/4 was the final development of the Colombo-designed engine, and though only producing a modest boost in peak power to 300 horsepower, the quad cam engine was significantly stronger across the range. The GTB also wore spectacular Pininfarina-designed Scaglietti coachwork closely and purposely modeled by Pininfarina upon the all-conquering 250 GTO.
At Pebble Beach 2014, a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 sold for more than $10 million. It was formerly owned by Steve McQueen, and hence is perhaps not a good example.
Accordingly, we've assembled a list of all the 275 GTB/4 sales across the last two decades and put them in chronological order to illustrate the marketplace movements. Obviously, there are significant differences in the quality of the cars, but even allowing for such differences, the exercise clearly illustrates the strength of the market in recent times, not to mention the effects of the GFC.
1972 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider by Scaglietti
The 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider is one of Ferrari's most desirable cars – the world's fastest car of the time in droptop form was so desirable that with only 121 real Daytona Spiders built, people have been cutting the tops off perfectly good 365 GTBs and GTB/4s for decades. These conversions come up as regularly at auction as genuine Spiders and are also fetching ever-increasing prices. Not long ago, a good conversion would fetch in the $300,000–$400,000 range, but in Paris last month a Bachelli et Villa 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spider conversion fetched $742,700 (€649,750). You'll often see the word "un-molested" in an auction description. There are those who feel that cutting a Ferrari up is a capital offense. Clearly there are now a lot of people who don't.
The Ferrari Classiche certified example offered by RM-Sotheby's is top shelf thanks to a spectacular and thorough restoration, which in turn has already won a Platinum Award.
RM-Sotheby's seem to handle the sale of the vast majority of 365 GTB/4 Daytona Spiders, and the progression of prices the model has fetched in recent times indicates makes interesting reading.
1935 Mercedes-Benz 500/540 K Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen
The Mercedes-Benz 500 K was introduced at the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (Berlin Motor Show), in March 1934, and sold alongside the 380 K until the end of 1934. The 4,984 cc engine produced 100 hp in normal operation and 160 hp with the supercharger engaged and 342 were eventually built, though only 33 of the Cabriolet A were among them. This Cabriolet A was upgraded to 540 K specification in 1938, giving it 180 hp with the blower engaged, and creating a particularly potent combination mated to the lighter and more flexible 500 K chassis. The full history of this car is available, though meticulous detail is available beginning with a European concours restoration from 1999 through 2001. In 2009, its mettle was tested on the rigorous 1000-mile journey through the mountain roads of the Colorado Grand, and it performed flawlessly.
Only 33 examples of the Mercedes-Benz 500 K Cabriolet A were constructed, and it is believed that only 11 remain, with a small number of those having the more powerful 5.4-liter engine mated to the lighter 500 K chassis, as 105384 does.
This car has benefited from an outstanding restoration and excellent care and maintenance, making it not only a mere piece of sculpture that would be an exceptional contender for entry into any of the most prestigious concours around the world but also a driving machine that is capable of long-distance touring in the spirit for which it was originally built.
1938 Bugatti Type 57C Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff
One of only three extant examples of the Aravis Cabriolet by Gangloff. Only Gangloff and Letourneur et Marchand were allowed to dub their 2/3-seater cabriolets the Aravis, and it is believed that each coachbuilder produced six of these bodies, of which three by Gangloff survive, as do three by Letourneur et Marchand. The other two surviving Bugatti Aravis by Gangloff are in long-term collections.
The current owners acquired this car a decade ago, consigning it to LaVine Restorations for a full concours-quality restoration, while the engine was rebuilt by Sam Jepson. The finished car has won numerous awards, including Best of Show at the Glenmoor Gathering in 2011 and Best of Show at this event (Amelia Island) in 2012.
1971 Lamborghini Miura SV
One of the signature car of the sixties, the Miura was the first supercar from Lamborghini, creating a sensation when it was unveiled at the 1966 Geneva Salon. The fastest car in the world at the time, with looks to match, Miura owners include or have included such names as the Shah of Iran, Miles Davis, Rod Stewart, Frank Sinatra, Jamiroquai, Elton John, Nicholas Cage, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, English property tycoon Jon Hunt and a Miura was famously gifted to Stamatis Kokotas by Aristotle Onasis.
Lamborghini built just 21 examples of the Miura SV specifically for the United States market and the car offered here is the prototype that was built to be tested by the EPA, and the first Miura SV sold in the United States.
This is the car photographed for the Miura SV brochure and the Boston Auto Show display car. It is also the cover car from Joe Sackey’s book, The Lamborghini Miura Bible in which Sackey devotes an entire chapter to his pursuit, acquisition, and restoration of this significant SV. Having appeared in many magazine articles and other Lamborghini books, this car is recognizable to almost any Lamborghini enthusiast.
As this first American-delivery SV is still powered by its original "sperimentale" engine and is in every respect just as it was in 1971, it is not only historically significant but also one of the most unmolested, beautifully restored, and authentic of all examples.
1931 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 Gran Sport Spider by Zagato
Estimated $2,300,000 to $2,600,000
A 1931 6C 1750 Spider with coachwork by Zagato, this particular Alfa Romeo is a correct, fifth-series example with matching body stampings throughout. A comprehensive restoration was completed in 2009, this exceptional car was imported to the United States in 2011 and exhibited at Pebble Beach in 2012.
1961 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet
This Ferrari is a very special example of the Series II Pinin Farina Cabriolet, not just because it is rare (200 built between 1959 and 1962), but because of the scientific process applied by its automotive engineer owner.
Although it was already in very good condition at the time of his acquisition, the consignor commissioned The Creative Workshop in Dania Beach, Florida, to perform a comprehensive, show-quality restoration. During this painstaking two-year process, every effort was undertaken to ensure it would be a leading concours contender.
As the restoration was nearing completion in early 2012, the car was certified by the Ferrari Classiche Department, confirming it as a correct and authentic example retaining its original chassis, engine, coachwork, and other important components.
Since the restoration was completed, the outstanding, eye-catching presentation of 2489 GT has been recognized with major awards at numerous leading national concours and Ferrari Club of America events. It has won four Platinum Awards at the most competitive marque gatherings, including the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic and the annual FCA Field and Driving Concours, in addition to receiving class awards at Mar-a-Lago, Amelia Island, and Boca Raton.
While campaigning the Ferrari on the concours circuit, the consignor continued to perfect the car’s already magnificent presentation, obtaining judging sheets and consulting with recognized marque experts to make sure that any small imperfection discovered during judging could be properly addressed before the next concours appearance.
When buying a car such as this, it is very reassuring that the owner has a degree in automotive engineering. Beyond that however, finding the minor blemishes on a near perfect car and correcting them leaves little doubt as to the superb quality this vehicle embodies.
1967 Shelby 427 'Semi-Competition' Cobra
One of 29 authentic Semi-Competition Cobras built, approximately 485 hp is produced by the car's 427 cubic inch “medium-riser” V-8. This car has been part of the Cobra fraternity for a long time with renowned Cobra enthusiast owners. Genuine, documented, authentic and well-maintained.
1953 Ferrari 212 Europa Coupe by Vignale
One of only six early Vignale-bodied Ferrari 212s built. Matching-numbers, original engine and gearbox, two-time Copperstate 1000 participant. Freshly serviced and ready to rally or show.
1953 Fiat 8V Coupe
A spectacular example of Italian Automotive Artistry from the fifties, this 1953 Fiat 8V Coupe is one of 114 8Vs and one of just nine Vignale Coupes. It has been restored in original colors to Concours standard and its awards include first in class at Pebble Beach and best in class at Amelia Island.
1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
Estimated $1,600,000 - $2,000,000
An outstanding late-production 300 SL with just 18,000 original miles and four owners in 52 years. Highly authentic presentation including original interior and factory hardtop. One of only 218 alloy-block, disc-braked examples.
1991 Ferrari F40
Staggering performance (478 hp at 7,000 rpm from 2,936 CC DOHC V-8 engine with twin IHI turbochargers and Behr intercoolers and Weber-Marelli EFI), this 1991 Ferrari F40 is one of 1,315 examples produced of the last Enzo-era Ferrari. Ferrari Classiche Red Book Certified. Factory-supplied luggage.
1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
This impeccably detailed, low-mileage 300 SL roadster has undergone an outstanding restoration by marque experts, and comes with fitted luggage, Rudge-type wheels, and Becker Mexico Radio. Part of a top-tier collection for 25 years.
1938 Delahaye 135 MS Coupe by Figoni et Falaschi
There are many who consider the work of French coachbuilders Figoni et Falaschi as the most beautiful cars in existence. The company's introduction of the Goutte d’Eau, or teardrop streamliners, which were built as coupes and cabriolets on both Delahaye and Talbot-Lago chassis, was the highlight of the thirties.
Both pre- and post-war, Figoni et Falaschi’s stand at the Paris Salon was a “must-see” attraction. Although teardrop cars were made in relatively small numbers, they were so immediately eye-catching that they became instant icons, and they remain so today.
This car was displayed on the Figoni et Falaschi stand at the 1938 Paris Salon. It has undergone a concours restoration by marque specialists, and is powered by a racing-specification MS engine.
1974 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0 RSR
Estimated $1,200,000 to $1,500,000
A correct and historically significant example of the revered 3.0 RSR with a log-file of class and outright wins in major international events covering six years. Beautifully restored, and offered with current FIA papers and reports from Jürgen Barth and John Starkey. Eligible for Tour Auto, Le Mans Classic, and Rennsport Reunion.
1930 Duesenberg Model J 'Sweep Panel' Dual-Cowl Phaeton by LeBaron
Estimated $1,200,000 to $1,400,000
The most iconic Duesenberg body style and the only long-wheelbase Sweep-Panel Dual-Cowl Phaeton ever built, this car comes with 70 years of well documented and outstanding provenance. It recently had a cosmetic restoration and freshening and comes as ACD Club Certified Category One (D-132)
1992 Ferrari F40
Estimated $1,200,000 to $1,400,000
This car is the last US-specification example of 213 US-delivery F40s ever produced and hence incorporates all of the production-run upgrades. It has had few owners, done less than 10,000 miles and is Ferrari Classiche Certified.
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera 2.7 RS Lightweight
Estimated $1,100,000 to $1,400,000
Originally delivered in Switzerland, this M471 Lightweight is from the first series and comes with its original Light Yellow with Black Color Scheme. Has been subjected to an award-winning restoration by noted experts Nate Cantwell and Douglas Brown
1961 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
Estimated $1,100,000 to $1,300,000
Owned by an enthusiast for 35 years, this 300 SL Roadster is believed to have had just three owners from new and comes with both factory hardtop and soft-tops.
1908 American Underslung 50HP Roadster
Estimated $1,100,000 to $1,200,000
The American Automobile company of Indianapolis is best remembered for its innovative Underslung models which place the frame rails below the axles, giving a significantly reduced center of gravity and valuable protection at a time when sealed roads were rare.
The problems of ground clearance were remedied by the use of significantly oversized wheels. This design innovation resulted in a chassis with remarkably sure handling while still retaining the necessary clearances to handle the poor road conditions of the day.
The American Underslung is regarded by the historian and collector, Dr. Fred Simeone, as the first American sports car. In his book The Spirit of Competition he states "...the American Car Company only made an automobile specifically for sport, at least in 1907 when the famed underslung chassis was introduced. Thus, arguably they are America's first exclusive sports car maker."
This car is of exceptional provenance having been one of the foundations of the collection of D. Cameron Peck. It was shown at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in 2014 and is offered from long term ownership.
1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SC Cabriolet
An exceptional, authentic, award-winning restoration of a rare car - only 49 were built.
1934 Duesenberg Model SJ Touring Berline
E.L. Cord acquired Duesenberg in October 1926, challenging Fred Duesenberg to create the world’s finest automobile. The result was the Model J and could be upgraded to the SJ model. This car was purchased new in 1934 for $18,000 ($320,000 in today's money) and was taken overseas for several European tours during its initial ownership. The car received a complete restoration in 2013 including a colour change to the current two-tone maroon. It was exhibited at Pebble Beach in 2014, and won the Chairman’s Award at the 2014 St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance held in Cambridge, Maryland. A wonderful example of one of the finest and most important classic automobiles ever conceived.
1955 Austin-Healey 100S
Estimated $975,000 to $1,375,000
The first chassis of just fifty built of this special alloy-bodied racing model, the car was delivered to actor Jackie Cooper to drive in the 1955 12 Hours of Sebring race. Lots of period images of the car and its celebrity owner. Detailed history.
1996 Porsche 993 GT2
Estimated $950,000 to $1,250,000
The last of the air-cooled turbocharged 911s and one of 57 roadgoing 993 GT2s ever built. Highly original with just 36,000 km from new.
1963 Shelby 289 Cobra
Estimated $950,000 to $1,150,000
Formerly owned by Ford Special Projects Director Jacques Passino, this car has been restored to its original color combination of Guardsman Blue over a black interior, and is fitted with its original wire wheels.
1968 Toyota 2000GT
Estimated $900,000 to $1,100,000
Released at the 1965 Tokyo Motor Show, the Toyota 2000GT broke new ground and signalled the coming of the Japanese car market for enthusiasts for the first time. It has subsequently become the first Japanese car to break the million dollar barrier and is still the most sought-after Japanese collector car of them all, although if one of the original two convertibles built for product placement in the 1967 James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice, ever comes to market ...
Legend has it that the 2000GT could not comfortably accommodate frame actor Sean Connery’s 6'2" frame, so the film producers requested two open-top models for the movie and Toyota obliged (pictured above). The moral of the story might well be that if you're over 6 ft tall, maybe the Toyota GT2000 isn't the ideal car for you.
A replica of the film car surfaced in 2010 and sold for £179,200 (US$282,831) at an RM London auction but it would appear that the money spent on the conversion significantly decreased the worth of the car as it was not regarded as a genuine article and subsequent sales of the few that have come to auction bear that out.
Prior to that sale in London, we can only find two Toyota 2000GTs that have come to public auction, being a 1967 model at Bonhams & Butterfield's Pebble Beach auction in 2001 which sold for $140,000, and a Hershey auction by Brooks in October 2000 where a 1967 model sold for $151,000.
A decade later there has been a flurry of activity and the price of a restored Toyota 2000GT is now clearly in the seven figure domain. This is a list of all recent results.
2011 Ferrari 599 SA Aperta
Extremely rare (only 80 produced) and convertible variant of the 599 GTO, this car has just 350 miles on the clock. Comes equipped with optional carbon-fiber roof panel.
1967 Ferrari 330 GTC
Retained by one owner for over three decades, this car is highly original with just 12,000 miles from new. Comes with the original tool roll, owner’s handbooks, and extensive records. Documented by Ferrari Historian Marcel Massini.
1932 Lincoln KB Custom Stationary Coupe
One of only 17 built and three known to exist, this 1932 Lincoln KB Custom Stationary Coupe is believed to be Dietrich’s 1932 Los Angeles Auto Salon car and has been part of several prominent West Coast Collections. The subject of an exhaustive and exquisite restoration by Stephen Babinsky, it has won some major events as a show car including Pebble Beach, plus it is an AACA National Prize Winner.
1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Transformal Phaeton
This is a car with the lot, plus a bit more. It's a 1930 Rolls-Royce Phantom I Transformal Phaeton (a convertible limousine) and was given new to one of history's greatest stars, Marlene Dietrich, by legendary film director Josef von Sternberg upon her arrival in America to further her already illustrious career.
It is one of only two Transformal Phaetons ever made (an identical cream-colored car with coachwork by Hibbard and Darrin of Paris was owned by Paramount boss Jack Warner and the studio paid US$24,000 for Dietrich's welcoming gift - the equivalent of $330,000 in today's money.
The car was driven at all times by an armed chauffeur who was vested with the responsibility of keeping the studio's leading lady safe. Dietrich was Paramount's answer to the number one box office draw of the day, Greta Garbo and apart from being a femme fatale of the silver screen, Dietrich also had a number of global number one hit songs including Lili Marlene, Falling In Love Again and La Vie en Rose. Ironically, Dietrich and Garbo had a secret affair which ended rather badly, and for many years they refused to acknowledge they knew each other.
The Transformal Phaetons appeared conspicuously in Dietrich's first American film, Morocco, in which she starred opposite Gary Cooper, and won an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Furthermore, when the car was last sold (it fetched $524,000), it had just emerged from a $500,000 restoration. It has since featured prominently in Tom Cotter's book The Cobra in the Barn, which is not about snakes, but about famous "barn finds", of which this car is one. If the value of a car is related to the stories it could tell, then Marlene Dietrich's Roller undoubtedly witnessed one of the most infamous trysts in history, between the two sex symbols of the era.
1932 Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat Convertible
Estimated $850,000 -to $1,200,000
America's equivalent to the Mercedes-Benz SSK, this Stutz DV-32 Super Bearcat Convertible is believed to one of just twenty of the four-valve-per-cylinder straight-eight machines produced and less than ten are known to exist today. In the midst of the depression, they sold new for nearly $6000.
The last Super Bearcat to reach auction fetched $594,000 in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis. This is a very special American-made supercar of a different era – the estimate may not contain the final hammer price.
1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Touring
Estimated $775,000 to $975,000
A near perfect example of the original first series 911, this RS has covered less than 1,000 miles since a complete restoration. In 2013, at the 30th annual Concours d’Elegance of Colorado, it won the Early Porsche category and was awarded an unprecedented score of 240.6 points (out of 240) by the Porsche Club of America. The additional 0.6 points were awarded for the car’s high level of genuine components. There were 1308 of the RS model built, and it's testimony to their desirability that prices are now pushing seven figures.
1970 Maserati Ghibli 4.7 Spyder by Ghia
Estimated $750,000 to $900,000
Two owners and 49,000 miles from new, this 1970 Maserati Ghibli 4.7 Spyder by Ghia comes from the collection of Bill Warner, the chairman of the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Beautifully restored, exceptionally well documented, one of the very finest examples in existence.
1970 Nissan Fairlady Z 432
This car might look like a 240Z Datsun/Nissan but it is indeed a Japanese domestic market 1970 Nissan Fairlady Z 432, incorporating the 160 hp, 24-valve, DOHC two liter six-cylinder engine and drivetrain of the first-generation GT-R – a car equally as legendary in its day as its distant descendant, Godzilla, is today. Only around 400 were built and many have perished on the racetrack. Very few have escaped Japan where the car is understandably a legend.
This is the first time that a Z432 has appeared at auction outside Japan, and hence we're thinking that the estimate might be a bit light on. Last year at Monterey (Pebble Beach), a 1972 Nissan Skyline H/T 2000GT-R 'Hakosuka', which runs the same drive train, sold by RM for $242,000. This one has the potential to go higher, particularly given the beautiful shape of the original Ferrari-inspired Z car and the likelihood that there are more than a handful of newly-minted American HNWIs who grew up aspiring to own a Z one day. This is the holy grail of Z cars and there won't be a lot of them escaping Japan where they were appreciated long before they became fashionable.
Ferrari 330 P2 Junior Child’s Car by De La Chappelle
1968 Mazda 110S Cosmo Sport Coupe
Japanese cars are finally beginning to find acceptance amongst American car collectors and the halo car for Mazda is already clearly acknowledged as the Cosmo, the first rotary-engined pure sports car. Rarity is likely to become quite a factor with the Cosmo because although 343 Series 1 cars were built, the Cosmo (offical Mazda page) was never officially imported into the United States, so availability will be very limited.
Jay Leno has a Cosmo in his garage, Gooding and Company sold a Cosmo last year at Pebble Beach for $264,000, while Bonhams sold one for $110,000 at Scottsdale this year and another for €55,200 (US$75,081.92) in Paris in February, 2014.
Like so many decidedly excellent things that have come out of Japan in the the last few decades and are now beginning to begrudgingly find acceptance in Western markets, the work of Japanese pop artist Tadanori Yokoo has an uncanny parallel with the Cosmo because way back at the launch of the car he was asked to create the brochure. There's a lovely story on the brochure here.
1951 Lotus Mk IIIB
Estimated $250,000 to $450,000
In terms of heritage, this car is a pearl. It's the very first Lotus to wear the distinctive Yellow badge, the first Lotus customer car and it was raced in period by Lotus-founder Colin Chapman, who went on to build one of the finest names in motorsport history.
1930 "Blue Train" Bentley Recreation
Bentley Motors has been producing luxury motor cars for 96 years and has never been in better shape financially or produced more gloriously desirable motor cars, but it was during the twenties that the company really did have its glory days, thanks to a bunch of very wealthy enthusiasts known as the Bentley Boys.
Barnato drove in the Le Mans 24 hour race three times, winning on all three occasions (1928, 1929 and 1930), but by far his most outrageous feat was to race and beat the Blue Train.
In 1930, Barnato was staying in Cannes at the Carlton Hotel with his golfer friend, Dale Bourn. He accepted a wager that he could not only beat the Blue Train to Calais, as had been done before, but could be at his club in London before the train reached Calais.
On the day of the race, he finished his drink in the bar at the Carlton hotel when he heard the train had departed at 17.54. He had arranged for fuel stations to remain open through the night in Aix-En-Provence and Lyon, and a tanker lorry in Auxerre, and despite a puncture near Paris, he reached Boulogne with an hour to spare. He arrived at the Conservative Club in St James, London for a celebratory drink having passed the clock at Victoria Railway Station at 15.30 the next day, four minutes before the train was due to arrive in Calais, having averaged 43.43 mph driving on pre-motorway roads. He won the £100 wager, although the Automotive Club de France attempted to fine him £200 for an un-authorised race in France.
This vehicle is a replica of the car Barnato drove in the race against the Blue Train and it is estimated it will fetch between $550,000 and $650,000.
Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion car
Finally, and this really is a treat, is Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion car – we'll be posting a full story early next week on one of the most interesting automobiles in history. The car is a recreation of the original design and understandably isn't for sale.
Watch the auctions live
The webcasting of auctions began before free-to-air and cable TV discovered what compelling and cost-efficient viewing auctions generated, meaning that the spectacle and excitement of the classic car auction market has bypassed the TV network bottleneck and is available globally. Might we suggest wherever you live, if you're an auto enthusiast, these events are worthy of consideration for your viewing.
All three of the major auctions at Amelia Island will be webcast live.
Bonhams' auction will be live on its web site at 10am on Thursday, March 12.
Gooding & Company's auction will be live on its web site at 11am on Friday, March 13
The official auction of the concours, which will be held by the newly consummated combination of RM Auctions and Sotheby's, will run from 11:00 am - 4:00 pm on Saturday, March 14, 2015.
You can check the time zone differences here (Amelia Island is in the same time zone as Miami).View gallery - 218 images