Three $10-million-plus cars heading to auction at Concours of Elegance
Ten-million-dollar automobiles are few and far between: just 48 automobiles have sold for more than US$10 million since the barrier was first breached on 17 May 2009 when a Ferrari Testa Rossa sold for $12.4 million in Italy. So far this year, there hasn't been a car sold for eight figures, but one auction to be held at the Concours of Elegance on September 5, 2020 could see three cars all surpass that mark inside two hours.
Gooding & Co has been the official Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance auction house for more than a decade and was planning its first international auction, scheduled for 1 April 2020 at Somerset House in London until the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled those plans.
Gooding & Company has now joined with the Concours of Elegance to be held at Hampton Court Palace, the once home of King Henry VIII and the Tudor dynasty, and the “Passion of a Lifetime” auction will now go ahead in a setting more fitting of the quality of wares on offer.
There are just 15 lots in the entire auction, but they all hail from one of the world's most revered private collections. The lesser cars on offer are as follows:
· 1955 Aston Martin DB3S (£3,000,000 – £4,000,000)
· 1935 Aston Martin Ulster (£1,600,000 – £2,200,000)
· 1939 Bentley 4 1/4 Litre Cabriolet (£450,000 – £600,000)
· 1927 Bentley 3 Litre Speed Sports Tourer (£350,000 – £450,000)
· 1928 Bugatti Type 35C Grand Prix (£3,000,000 plus)
· 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV (£1,600,000 – £2,000,000)
· 1965 Lamborghini 350 GT (£400,000 – £550,000)
· 1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America (£700,000 – £900,000)
· 1959 Lancia Flaminia 2500 Sport (£400,000 – £500,000)
· 1924 Lancia Lambda 3rd Series Torpédo (£320,000 – £400,000)
· 1919 Rolls-Royce 40/50 HP Silver Ghost (£1,000,000 – £1,400,000)
· 1924 Vauxhall 30-98 OE-Type Wensum (£800,000 – £1,200,000)
The three $10-million cars are naturally quite exquisite. They are:
1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato
Estimate: £7,000,000 to £9,000,000 (US$9,250,000 to $11,750,000)
Specifications: 314 hp, 3,670 cc DOHC twin-plug alloy inline six-cylinder engine with triple Weber 45 DCOE carburetors, four-speed synchromesh alloy-cased manual transmission with overdrive, front and rear coil-spring suspension, and four-wheel Girling hydraulic disc brakes.
Just 19 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagatos were made, officially becoming the world’s fastest road car with a run of 153.5 mph (247 km/h). It took that mantle from Aston Martin's own DB4 GT which had been timed at 152 mph (245 km/h) by the magazine Autosport in December 1961, which in turn had taken the crown from the DB4 which had a top speed, as tested by Autocar magazine in 1961, of 141 mph (227 km/h).
In 1988 Aston Martin approved the construction of four “Sanction II” DB4 GT Zagatos to use allocated but unused chassis numbers. Fitted with a larger 4.2-liter engine, the new old cars cost over $1,000,000 32 years ago. In 1992, a further two “Sanction III” cars were built.
Last year, Aston Martin began delivering another 19 DB4 Zagato Continuation models, each produced at a cost of £6 million (about US$7.9 million depending on when the money drops). The new cars are being created to higher standards than when they were new.
Each car is being constructed using a blend of old-world craftsmanship and the sympathetic application of modern engineering advancements. The new cars are much faster than the old ones as they come with a 390-hp 4.7-liter version of the straight-six and, for a variety of compliance reasons, they cannot be driven on the road. Fortunately, that price includes a roll cage so you can safely get crazy on the racetrack, but be very aware that trashing one of these would be a serious wealth hazard if it isn’t exactly a health hazard.
Finally, each DB4 GT Zagato Continuation comes with a 2020 DBS GT Zagato, so you’ll have something to drive on the road that will subtly convey to people that your other car is indeed a DB4 GT Zagato. The $7.9-million price gets you what Aston Martin calls the "DBZ Century Collection" of two cars, with deliveries of the DB4 GT Zagato Continuation having begun in Q4 2019 and DBS GT Zagato deliveries beginning next month.
Just two DB4 GT Zagatos have gone to auction in recent times, with one selling for $14,300,000 (RM-Sotheby’s | New York | December 2015) and another selling for £10,081,500 (US$13,323,861) (Bonhams’ | Goodwood Festival of Speed | July 2018). The three DB4 GT Zagato auction descriptions, one each by the three international automotive auction houses, are worth reading if you are a fan of the breed.
1934 Bugatti Type 59 Sports
Estimate: £10,000,000 plus (US$13,000,000 plus)
Specifications: 3,257cc DOHC inline 8-Cylinder with twin Zenith Carburetors and Roots-type supercharger, developing
250 hp at 5,000 RPM. Four-speed manual gearbox. Four-wheel cable-operated mechanical drum brakes, solid front axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs and De Ram shock absorbers, rear live axle with reversed quarter-elliptic leaf springs and De Ram shock absorbers.
Close to unicorn status, this car is one of the eight Bugatti Type 59 racing cars built, of which only five have survived, with the four racing cars gathered together for Pebble Beach Concours in 2019. You'll get a much greater sense of the importance of the Type 59 from the video below.
The car going to auction at Hampton Palace is a fifth genuine Bugatti Type 59 that has a number of historic victories and pole positions to its name as a factory racer. When its only season as a racing car was complete, it returned to the factory in Molsheim where it was converted into a road car and sold to King Leopold III of Belgium in 1938. It remains in the original condition of King Leopold's ownership.
The only example to be offered this century at public auction was sold at Bonhams' Goodwood Festival of Speed sale in 2005 for £1,321,500 (US$2.4 million).
One final thought regarding the Type 59 is that of the five remaining examples, two are owned by design icons. One of the cars (see image gallery) is in the world-famous car collection of fashion designer Ralph Lauren, while another is in the collection of industrial designer Marc Newson. It cannot be a coincidence that people who are among the world's foremost exponents of functional art own a Bugatti T59. Newson has been described as the most influential designer of his generation.
1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante
Estimate: In Excess of £7,000,000
Rarity, record speed, an abundance of world-leading technology and beauty are all attributes of the Bugatti Type 57S Atalante, but in this case, the one-of-17 car has an additional trump card in the form of provenance.
The Atalante is the rarest of the body styles offered by Carrosorie Bugatti, being an interpretation of the teardrop shape of the fabled Bugatti Aérolithe Coupe. If all the cars ever made were available for purchase, the magnesium-bodied Aérolithe prototype would be a contender for the most expensive of all time. Just 17 cars received the lowered, art deco Atalante body designed by Jean Bugatti and they are among the most sought-after collectible cars in the world.
The Type 57 started as a road car, but when Bugatti turned it into a racing car, it excelled. In 1936, T-57-based cars won the ACF GP, the Marne GP and the Comminges GP and established new speed records for one hour, six hours and 24 hours at the banked Montlhéry racetrack near Paris.
In 1937, Jean-Pierre Wimille and Robert Benoist drove a T-57 to victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, setting new race records at 3,287.9 km (2,043 mi) at an average 137 km/h (85 mph). The Bugatti Type 57 again won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1939.
Most 57S owners wanted the additional power afforded by the optional blower that was subsequently introduced, and most of the original Type 57S cars returned to Molsheim for the installation of the supercharger, pushing the power from 175 hp (130 kW) to 200 hp (150 kW) and 190 km/h (120 mph). This particular car was fitted with a Marshall supercharger in the late 1940s, and hence would be producing at least 200 hp.
It is the provenance of this car that really makes it special. The car was built specifically for the President of the Bugatti Owners' Club, Francis Curzon, the 5th Earl Howe. Howe was an icon of the British motoring scene, regularly competing in major races, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1931 (partnering with famous “Bentley Boy” Sir Henry Birkin in an Alfa Romeo) and setting a fastest lap in the event in 1934.
Subsequent to Earl Howe’s ownership, the car passed through several owners before being purchased by a Dr Harold Carr, who subsequently partially disassembled it in anticipation of a total rebuild, which was never finished, and the car sat unused for 50 years. In 2009, the car went to auction at Bonhams’ during Retromobile Week, celebrated as the “barn find of the decade.”
There were those who speculated in the lead up to the auction that the Bugatti Type 57S might become the world’s most valuable car when it sold. Though it eventually sold for just €3,417,500 (US$4,408,575), it was still one of the most expensive cars ever sold at auction at that time.
The most expensive Bugatti Atalantes to have sold at auction have both been Type 57SC: a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante sold for $7,920,000 at a Gooding & Co auction at Pebble Beach in 2008, and the model record is held by a 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante that sold for $8,745,000 at a Gooding & Co Pebble Beach auction in 2013.
The Gooding auction description summarizes perfectly: "Acquired in 'garage find' condition by the current owner, this magnificent Bugatti has since been treated to a subtle yet thorough restoration by marque expert Ivan Dutton Ltd. This Atalante possesses a history unlike any other Type 57S. It has led a truly fantastic journey, from the prized possession of a motor racing icon in the 1930s to a tinkerer’s pet project in the 1950s, followed by its decades-long descent into oblivion and recent joyful rescue from it."