Four unique German automotive artworks from the Taj Ma Garaj Collection
The Taj Ma Garaj Collection going to auction in Dayton, Ohio on September 28, 2019, offers a treasure trove of Porsche and Volkswagen memorabilia, and it's all going to auction without reserve, meaning there will almost certainly be bargains. The collection features 30 Porsche and Volkswagen cars, along with 350 lots of memorabilia, literature, collectibles, engines, and an assortment of arcade ephemera.
The collection began after the now late John Dixon was driving to high school in the 1990s and his muscle car was overtaken by a Porsche 911 on the freeway. That seemingly banal event had a big influence on Dixon, sparking a love affair with the famous German sports car brand that would see him buy his first Porsche the following year before going on to amass a collection of over 30 different Porsche and Volkswagen (the owner of Porsche) vehicles that have been open to the public as part of the Taj Ma Garaj, a banquet hall in Dayton.
Foremost among the cars are the four genuine rarities we've picked out here, though if you're a fan of German automotive history, there's almost certainly something for you.
1970 Volkswagen Beetle "Casa Linda Lace" by Rafael Esparza-Prieto
Estimate: US$40,000 to $60,000 | Official Auction Description
To catch the eyes of the world's athletes as they descended on Mexico City for the 1968 Olympics, Volkswagen created two Beetle bodies using wrought-iron, a material long associated with Mexican design as evidenced by its popularity in property fences and gates. The design was relatively simple, but the subsequent widespread fame of these vehicles prompted VW to commission artist and master blacksmith Rafael Esparza-Prieto to recreate the Beetle body in wrought iron for the company's Aguascalientes' Mexico assembly plant. His more elaborate design so impressed Jose Barajas, a Mexican restaurant owner from Montecito, California, that he commissioned his own in the early 1980s. The lace-patterned Beetle Esparza-Prieto crafted using just a hammer and an anvil boasts 2,600 individual floral-inspired curlicue designs. The hand-crafted wrought iron sits over the top of a fully functional 1970 Beetle interior, chassis and powertrain. It is this vehicle, which long attracted diners to Barajas' Casa Linda restaurant, that is up for auction.
1956 Volkswagen Beetle Outlaw "Death" by Franz Muhr
Estimate: $40,000 to $60,000 | Official Auction Description
This car stands just 36 inches (91 cm) tall, from the highest point of its curved roof to the asphalt, which is an astonishing feat in itself. Hot Rod magazine called this custom, “the most outrageous thing we saw the entire year” when they named it one of their top 10 customs in 2008. Weighing in at just 1,300 lb (590 kg), and powered by a modified 1,914 cc flat-four, this Beetle has the performance to match its mean looks at the dragstrip. Proving that not all Beetles have to be cute, this one earned the nickname "Death" thanks to the seriously diminished outward visibility of its gun-slit window openings. The car was created by Muhr's Kustom Coach Werks in Grand Junction, Colorado, from an abandoned '56 Baja Bug project. The team lowered the roof 8 in (20 cm) at the B-pillars and 9 in (23 cm) at the windshield and rear window to achieve the mean look and give the driver just a 4-in (10-cm) windshield to peer through. The Mad Max-esque feel extends to the interior where a bashed and bruised right-hand drive dash sits in front of seats with visible springs and burlap-covered door panels and seat backs.
1958 Porsche 356 A Sedan Delivery "Kreuzer"
Estimate: $100,000 to $150,000 | Official Auction Description
This Porsche delivery van began life as a Reutter-bodied 1958 U.S.-market 356 A finished in black over red leatherette upholstery and equipped with a sunroof. All those features were retained as the car was rebodied into one of the most beautiful shooting brakes we've ever seen. Originally envisaging a 911 with a delivery body, Dixon realized the 356 would be a better fit for his concept and turned to Bob Bennet of Bennet's Rod Shop west of Dayton to make the "Kreuzer" (a Germanized version of "cruiser") a reality. Bennet's managed to keep remarkably faithful to Dixon's original sketches, keeping the car stock from the B-pillar forward and extending its roofline so that the rear section is almost vertical. Helping make the finished custom appear like it could have come out of the Porsche factory as is, Bennet's kept the stock rear fenders and capped with standard Porsche taillights. Although it is not currently installed, the Kreuzer comes with a period-correct 1600 Type 616/1 engine, that can be mated to a 356 A transmission the has been retained in the car.
1953 Porsche 356 Limousine Custom
Estimate: $150,000 to $250,000 | Official Auction Description
While the front part of this stretch 365 limousine may indeed be from a 1953 “bent-window” 356, there are at least two other later model 356 bodies mixed into the final product. Originally built for the wedding of Dixon's daughter, this car is almost certainly the only Porsche 356 stretch limousine in the world, and considering the scarcity of project 356s, it is likely to remain that way. With an estimate of $150,000 to $250,000, the cost of building this car from new in today's environment, the fact there is no reserve price, the buyer of this vehicle will be getting more value than the money paid.