28/07/2011 RM Auctions at Monterey 19 - 20 August 2011: Preview
1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione: $3,800,000 - 4,500,000
As well-balanced as a finely tuned four-cam Ferrari, RM’s latest sale catalogue is now out and lists over 140 motor cars all having, the Ontario-based house would avow, that ‘Monterey Magic’.
While it’s tempting to start with the ‘heavy lifters’ (any of the FIVE pre-War, 500 K/540 K Mercedes, for example, or the ‘On Request’, ex-Carrera Panamericana 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta), let’s have a look at the more accessible end of the catalogue.
Allard as a marque has always been popular in the States. RM’s catalogue lists two, a 1951 K2 Roadster ($100,000 - 120,000) and a 1948 M1 Drophead Coupé ($60,000 - 80,000). Other British manufacturers who had great sales successes in the 1950s and 60s were Jaguar and Austin-Healey, with RM offering 12 of the former and four of the latter at its regular Monterey Portola Hotel & Spa venue this year.
1952 Cunningham C-3 West Palm Beach Coupé: $675,000 - 875,000
1955 Kurtis 500 S X Roadster: $800,000 - 1,000,000
On the Jaguar front there are four straight-sixes to choose from, ranging from a 1969 Jaguar Series II FHC ($60,000 - 80,000) to a stunning 1963 SI 3.8-litre Roadster at $125,000 - 150,000. Of the three XKs, we are always suckers for closed 120s and the pale grey/blue 1953 XK120 Fixed Head Coupé looks gorgeous - in a $120,000 - 140,000 sort of way.
There’s also a 1938 Jaguar SS 100 3.5-litre, for $700,000 - 800,000, which is just one of an impressive line-up of entries from the Twenties and Thirties.
1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Coupé: $3,250,000 - 4,500,000
We tend to use the expression ‘Great Gatsby’ to describe this era. I’m not sure whether the four blower Mercedes fit this category, but what I do know is that RM has achieved quite a coup in not only consigning Sam and Emily Mann’s 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Roadster (‘On Request’ for price, a sale-headlining car in any other event), but also three other 1930s ‘grand Mercedes’ from the Lyon Family Collection. And a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Sport Cabriolet A, currently in private ownership, too – all impressive stuff.
Depending on your tastes, while the unbelievably-rare-in-this-configuration (a high-door, long-tail, covered-rear-spare car with factory left-hand drive – believed to be one of only three to exist), silver 540 K Spezial Roadster certainly has the ‘wow factor’, in this writer’s eyes it’s the 1936 540 K Spezial Coupé ($3,250,000 - 4,500,000) which has the more sophisticated lines.
If all of these big Mercedes sell mid-estimate, we could be looking at nigh-on $20m for these cars alone, a quite extraordinary figure.
1938 Bugatti Type 22 57 Stelvio: $700,000 - 800,000
And don’t forget, too, the obligatory Monterey-week sale Mercedes 300 SL ‘Gullwings’ (a 1957 for $850,000 - 1,100,000 and an older, 1955 example at $650,000 - 850,000) and a $650,000 - 800,000, 1962 300 SL Roadster.
With all the excitement of the big pre-War Mercedes I was in danger of omitting another Pebble Beach week favourite, the Duesenberg Model J. Rest assured, RM will offer two this year, a 1936 Convertible Victoria ($800,000 - 1,000,000) and a 1934 Riviera Phaeton, for $1,000,000 - 1,200,000. There’s also an interesting (and rare) 1932 Marmon HCM V-12 2 Door Sedan Prototype for $800,000 - 1,000,000, and a 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Drophead Coupé (also $800,000 - 1,000,000), one of five pre-War Rolls in the sale.
1953 Siata 208S Spider: $875,000 - 1,175,000
1970 Porsche 911S, ex-'Le Mans', Steve McQueen: 'On Request'
Other European cars from the glamorous 1930s include three Bugattis (topped by the 1935 Type 57 ‘Grand Raid Roadster’ for $1,000,000 - 1,300,000), the 1932 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 GS 5th Series ($850,000 - 950,000) and the 1929 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Open Tourer ($700,000 - 900,000).
Steve McQueen-related cars, motorbikes and memorabilia are keenly sought after. RM has scored another goal in the consignment of the King of Cool’s own 1970 Porsche 911 S, the very car he drove in the opening sequence of the film ‘Le Mans’, as well as an Italian roadster he ran when just a young actor in the late-50s: the 1953 Siata 208S Spider, his “little Ferrari”. It’s estimated at $875,000 - 1,175,000.
1939 Delahaye 135 MS Speciale: $950,000 - 1,250,000
1953 Dodge Firearrow III Concept Car: $800,000 - 1,000,000
RM has sold many concept and one-off cars over the years, and for 2011 the Monterey catalogue includes such gems as the 1941 Chrysler Thunderbolt Concept Car ($900,000 - 1,200,000) and the amazing 1965 Mercer Cobra Roadster, likely to sell for $800,000 - 1,200,000.
1973 Chevrolet Corvette SCCA/IMSA Racing Car: $150,000 - 250,000
1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta: $1,100,000 - 1,400,000
We came in on the subject of four-cam Ferraris and you’ll not be surprised to learn that the auction numbers one such (a 1967 275 GTB/4 Berlinetta for $1,100,000 - 1,400,000) in the 18 cars from Maranello listed. That’s over 10 per cent of the catalogue devoted to a marque that has become hard currency in the USA.
Forget your ‘blue chip investments’, buying the right sort of Ferrari has been ‘solid gold’ in recent years. Except that this four-cam is navy blue... but you know what I mean.
1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta: 'On Request'
Vying for overall honours at the Portola Plaza with the blower Mercedes will be both the 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta Competizione (a car that’s certainly seen some action, comes out of an extensive ‘restoration to original’ by Ferrari Classiche and carries an estimate of $3,800,000 - 4,500,000) and the 1952 Ferrari 340 Mexico Berlinetta.
The latter, ‘On Request’ entry is a genuine Carrera Panamericana car, driven by F1 World Champion Alberto Ascari no less, and has “all stampings and numbers appear[ing] original and match[ing] those on the Ferrari build sheets” – according to marque expert Brooke Betz who recently inspected the car.
For breadth and depth, this RM’s 2011 Monterey sale certainly takes some beating. Playing everyone’s fantasy “what would you have?” game, I’d quite fancy the for-restoration 1964 Shelby Cobra 289 ($450,000 - 550,000), either of the Allards, or the XK120 FHC.