The Andrews Collection went to auction last weekend, becoming the single most valuable car collection yet to reach the auction block with a value of US$53.9 million, beating the previous record holder, the Pratte Collection ($40.4 million in Scottsdale in January of this year but with lots of automobilia in that total), the Milhous Collection ($38.3 million but much more diverse including furniture, guns, and cultural artifacts), and the former LA Times publisher Otis Chandler's collection which fetched $36.1 million in 2006.
It's difficult to compare auctions from different eras because the marketplace would probably value the Otis Chandler Collection at much more today – many of the cars sold into the top 100 cars and just as many of the motorcycles are in the top 250 motorcycles.
Comparing "collection values" at auction is also fraught with difficulty because the Fort Worth auction was only part of the collection assembled by enthusiasts Paul Andrews and his son Chris.
The collection reached a peak of over 150 cars a few years ago and has been systematically culled once before. This auction saw it reduced by a further 75 cars to a core of just 15 keepers. It's an indication to me that the Andrews are more than just pseudo swap card collectors in that they intend to drive the cars they keep rather than keep them wrapped in cotton wool in a temperature-controlled environment and track the value on a spreadsheet. Bravo!
Apart from a few century–old player organs, the bulk of the value in this segment of the Andrews Collection which went to auction was largely comprised of superb quality automobiles with some exquisite automobilia. We'll get to the automobilia at the bottom of this article, but in terms of world class collectible automobiles, the fact that 16 of the cars sold for more than a million dollars says it all. This one-off auction almost equalled RM's auction at Amelia Island in value, and Amelia Island is a significant event indeed.
These are those 16 cars.
$7,645,000 – 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pininfarina
The $7,645,000 paid for the auction's poster car, a 1962 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet by Pininfarina, saw it move comfortably inside the top 100 cars ever sold at auction.
That price sees it slot into the top 100 in 41st place, just ahead of the Ford GT40 Prototype from 1964, a Figoni et Falaschi 1938 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Teardrop Cabriolet , the world’s oldest Rolls-Royce and the famous “Corgi” 1912 Rolls-Royce and just behind the second most valuable movie car ever sold at auction (a 1965 Shelby Daytona Cobra Coupe), a 1929 4½-Litre Supercharged 'Blower' Bentley, a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante Coupe and between a pair of Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadsters (here and here) – esteemed company indeed.
It’s not the first Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB Cabriolet to break into the top 100 this year. In March, a similar car (pictured directly above) took top sale honors at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance week fetching $6,380,000 to comfortably set a new world record for the model at auction.
So this too is a world record which isn’t surprising because it's the original 1962 Geneva and New York show car with a rich provenance including a 145 mph run on the Bonneville salt flats. RM-Sotheby’s estimates suggested it would fetch between $7,000,000 and $8,500,000 and those estimates proved remarkably accurate almost bisecting the difference.
$4,180,000 – 1934 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Stationary Coupe
A 1934 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Stationary Coupe by Dietrich (Lot 233) sold just outside the top 100 cars of all time at $4,180,000, at the same time as besting the previous world record price for a Packard by nearly a million dollars. The previous record for a Packard was held by this 1934 Packard Twelve Runabout Speedster which sold at RM’s Scottsdale auction in January, 2006 for $3,190,000 (pictured directly below).
$3,630,000 – 1935 Duesenberg SJ Town Car by Bohman & Schwarz
The third highest price at the Andrews collection sale was Lot 231, a 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Town Car by Bohman & Schwarz which has previously been in the top 100 cars of all time, only being pushed out by the increasing prices of the last twelve months.
Indeed, someone bought well by paying only $3,630,000 as the car sold into the Andrews Collection at RM’s Monterey (Pebble Beach) auction in 2006 for $4,400,000.
The car was originally designed by Duesenberg's chief designer, J. Herbert Newport, for thirties sex symbol Mae West, best known for the lines she wrote or delivered such as “Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”, “When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better”, “Between two evils, I generally like to pick the one I never tried before”, “It's not the men in your life that matters, it's the life in your men” and her famous response to "Goodness! What lovely diamonds!" which was “Goodness had nothing to do with it, dearie.”
Mae West turned down the design, though no-one is quite sure why – it certainly wasn’t the cost, because she was the second-highest earning person in America at the time.
The car was eventually built for Ethel Mars, the wife of Mars Candy company founder Franklin Clarence Mars and a trailblazer for high-achieving females just as significant as Mae West. By the time Ethel had this car built, her husband had died in 1934 and she was running Mars Confectionary very successfully. Her son added Mars Bars and M&Ms; to the Snickers and Milky Way lines already developed by her late husband and as a sideline she had developed one of the most prominent equine bloodstock stables on the American thoroughbred racing circuit at her 2800 acre Milky Way Farm in Tennessee. Her horses won the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, and she was one of the landmark women who developed leading edge business interests across multiple spheres.
The 1935 Duesenberg Model SJ Town Car by Bohman & Schwarz was a fitting conveyance for a woman of such gravitas.
$3,520,000 – 1931 Duesenberg Model J 'Disappearing Top'
Lot 244 at the Andrews Collection sale is one of the (believed to be just 25) original Murphy-built "Disappearing Tops," the style that evolved from the original traditional tonneau covers to the flush-fitting metal lid which enabled the smooth elegant lines of the convertible to be retained when the top was down, running from the edges of the hood to the doors and down over the rear deck.
With reportedly $500,000 spent at the most recent restoration, this 1931 Duesenberg Model J still has its original chassis, engine, and body and has won multiple awards.
$2,860,000 – 1963 Ferrari 400 Superamerica LWB Coupe Aerodinamico by Pininfarina
The fifteenth of 18 Series II long-wheelbase examples built by Ferrari, this 1963 400 Superamerica LWB Coupe Aerodinamico by Pininfarina (Lot 196) is a meticulously restored specimen in its original colors of Grigio Argento over Red leather. It was a Platinum winner at the 2011 Cavallino Classic. A matching-numbers example, it is was the thirty-second of a total of thirty-five 400 Superamericas constructed in total.
$2,200,000 – 1934 Packard Twelve Sport Coupe by LeBaron
This 1934 Packard Twelve Sport Coupe by LeBaron (Lot 221) is the last of just four built, and was the 1934 New York Show car. Having been such a significant car in Packard's history, the car has a complete history from new and has been in many prominent collections at different times during it's eighty year existence.
Restored in the early 1980s, it won a 1983 AACA National First Prize badge and a CCCA National First Prize badge. This highly regarded Sport Coupe is also featured in Hugo Pfau’s The Custom-Bodied Packard, Dennis Adler’s Packard, Beverly Rae Kimes’s Packard: A History of the Motor Car and the Company, and Michael Lamm and Dave Holls’s A Century of Automotive Style.
Estimated at $1,600,000-$2,500,000, the Packard New York Sport sold for $2,200,000.
$1,980,000 – 1962 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra
The first racing-specification Shelby Cobra sold to the public, this 1962 Shelby 289 Competition Cobra (Lot 237) boasts an estimated 340 bhp from its 289 cu. in. engine. The car was sold with an extensively well-documented ownership and race history, and presented in period livery.
$1,925,000 – 1930 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Sedan by Murphy
Lot 205 was a 1930 Cadillac V-16 Convertible Sedan by Murphy with a pre-auction estimate of $1-$1.4 million but with a spectacular provenance. The car was built new for horse racing legend Charles S. Howard, one of Buick's original dealers who built an empire on the back of becoming the biggest Buick dealer on the West Coast. Howard's bloodstock interests and keen eye for horseflesh saw him buy an undersized, knobby-kneed, lethargic two-year-old colt in 1936 for $8,000. The colt had raced thirty-five times for just five wins, but with an unorthodox training regime its potential was realized, and Seabiscuit went on to win the "race of the century" plus all other major races in the country bar one to end his career with prize-winnings of $437,730 and a name that resonates with the public to this day. That's Howard with Seabiscuit below.
Auctioneers talk of provenance, but if you have a spectacular car with a specular history, it's all about the story in determining the value of the car so it's not surprising this Caddy ran half a million over its top estimate to sell for $1,925,000.In essence,
$1,842,500 – 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster
Mercedes' original 300 SL Roadster just continues to appreciate in value and the sale of this pristine matching-numbers 1959 model for a stellar figure was entirely expected, though the price of $1,842,500 it fetched was above RM-Sotheby's estimate of $1,300,000 to $1,600,000. When new, the 300 SL Roadster cost $11,000, which was a very large amount of money in 1959 – roughly the equivalent of $90,000 today. Is it any wonder that one of Mercedes-Benz' key selling features is retained value?
This 1959 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster was exquisitely restored by 300 SL specialist Mark Allin and has taken a Best in Class at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, indicating just how wise an investment in a perfect restoration can be.
$1,760,000 – 1938 Packard Eight Cabriolet by Graber
This 1938 Packard Eight Cabriolet (Lot 234) isa prime example of Packard's once flourishing export business to Europe, where it was one of the few American automobiles that enjoyed the same prestige as in its home country. As was often the custom with prestige cars, a large percentage of Packards were exported as a rolling chassis and then custom-bodied once they reached their destinations.
This example was built in Switzerland by renowned carrossier Hermann Graber and was the 1938 Geneva Auto Salon car. In recent times the recipient of a Steve Babinsky restoration, it won Best in Class at the 2011 Pebble Beach Concours.
$1,650,000 – 1962 Chevrolet Corvette "Gulf Oil" Race Car
This 360 hp, 327 cu in. 1962 Chevrolet Corvette Race Car was the 1962 SCCA A/Production champion in the hands of the "Flying Dentist," Dr. Dick Thompson driving for Grady Davis’ Gulf Oil Racing team. It's first year score card read 14 starts, 12 wins and two second places. Not surprisingly, such a significant car commanded a significant price, though it didn't quite reach the estimated price range of $2 to $2.5 million, and no doubt a delighted purchaser now has a car with a wonderful history that has already won more on the show circuit than it did in its glorious first racing season half a century ago.
$1,320,000 – 1953 Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe by Bertone
Lot 194 was one of the few cars which didn't meet their estimated prices and given this Aston Martin DB2/4 Drophead Coupe's history, I must say I'm surprised. At $1,320,000 it missed the estimated bracket of $1,400,000 to $1,800,000. The car represents many things: it is exclusive being one of only two made to this design; it has three times won awards at Pebble Beach; it has been the subject of a feature in Automobile Quarterly; it is aptly described in the catalogue as "a Gentleman’s Express of singular beauty and importance," but most importantly, it was a gift to Charles A. War, a man whose career is a triumph of redemption. The story of his journey from prison to wealthy, eccentric philanthropist is as good as the car.
$1,320,000 – 1931 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe by LeBaron
This 1931 Marmon Sixteen Convertible Coupe by LeBaron sold well above its pre-auction estimate of $700,000 to $900,000, being one of just eight known Marmon Convertible Coupes with a massive eight liter 200 bhp V-16, all-aluminum engine, the largest American engine from the classic 1930s era.
With such a bohemoth under the shapely LeBaron coachwork, the Marmon had an unmatched power-to-weight ratio and was reportedly capable of out-accelerating a Duesenberg Model J at one third the price.
$1,210,000 – 1955 Lincoln Indianapolis by Boano
$1,127,500 – 1955 Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon by H.J. Mulliner
The Mulliner-bodied Bentley R-Type Continental of the mid-fifties was unique in that it combined the swiftness of a Ferrari, the driving precision of an Alfa Romeo, and the spaciousness and comfort of a Rolls-Royce in one elite, built-to-order, aluminum-bodied package that cost $18,000 at the time. Dubbed by Autocar magazine as “a modern magic carpet,” only 193 were built.
$1,045,000 – 1934 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Convertible Sedan by Dietrich
As this 1934 Packard Twelve Individual Custom Convertible Sedan by Dietrich has been exhaustively restored and is thoroughly accurate in all of its details, with nearly perfect panel gaps, it presented at auction as a concours-finished automobile in all regards. It's worth reading the full story.
... and much, much more
RM's auction page for the Andrews Collection is well designed and enables an easy browse through and drill down to the imagery created by RM's principal photographer Darin Schnabel and the detailed history of each lot. All of the imagery in this article is the work of Darin, and there are high resolution studio images of all the cars at the site if you wish a closer look at any of the items.