RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island: Castelotti’s Ferrari 166 up for sale

RM Sotheby’s, after the Friday sale dedicated to the late Orin Smith, will be holding its traditional Amelia Island auction at the Ritz Carlton on Saturday, March 11th. The sale, kicking off at 1 p.m., will comprise 86 cars, including 15 Ferraris (four of them post 1990) and 16 Porsche 911s. Just over half of the cars will be offered without reserve, and these 44 include three with a lowest estimate above the USD 1 million mark, and a further car expected to fetch at least USD 2 million.

RM Sotheby’s Amelia Island: classic car offer is on a high level

The level of the offer is quite high, with seven cars in the catalogue having a lowest estimated value of more than USD 1 million dollars, two expected to fetch more than USD 2 million, another at least 4 million, while two have estimates above the 8 million mark, and another a predicted value of more than USD 9 million.

The car with the lowest estimate is a 1976 Triumph TR6 (chassis #CF56280 U) which has had two owners and done less than 40,000 miles from new; this car is offered without reserve, and is expected to fetch in the region of USD 20–25 K. The car with the highest estimate (USD 9–10 million) is a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB. The auction offer also covers an incredible span of time, with 110 years separating the oldest and the youngest lots. The former is a 1906 Studebaker Model G Touring (chassis #841) that has featured in important collections and is now offered with a pre-sale estimated value of USD 250–350 K, while the latter is a 2016 Porsche 911 Carrera GTS Rennsport Reunion Edition (chassis #WPOAB2A94GS123404), one of the only 25 built, still in its first ownership and with only 1200 miles on the clock. It is being offered with an estimate of USD 200–250 K.

1950 Ferrari 166 MM Barchetta Touring

The 166 is the model that established Ferrari as a car manufacturer. Its birth is considered one of the most important milestones in the history of this company, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary. It was a 166 that gave Ferrari its first Le Mans and Mille Miglia victories. It is the lines of its body, designed and manufactured by Carrozzeria Touring Milano, that led to the use of the term “Barchetta” to refer to this particular style of open car. The “Barchetta” offered here (chassis #0058M, shown photo by Patrick Ernzen above in header) is the 27th of the 32 166 MMs built, and the 23rd of the 25 Barchetta Touring models. It was completed in Maranello on June 1st, 1950 and was immediately shipped to the Touring facilities in Milan, to have its body (number 3452) painted in Rosso Corsa and the “Luxury” version beige interior installed.

It was delivered in Genova on June 5th to its first owner Marco Dallorso, and shortly afterwards was given as a present to the up-and-coming racing driver Eugenio Castellotti, who registered it Mi 166875 and entered it in the 1951 Mille Miglia. Competing with racing number 340, Castellotti and his car finished 6th in class. To make the car faster, Castellotti sent it back to Maranello to be fitted with triple Weber carburetors and the gearbox was given an offset lever-type shifter, while the single scoop hood was replaced with an unvented bonnet. More races followed in the 1951 and 1952 seasons. In 1952, the car again competed in the Mille Miglia, with Ambrogio Arosio at the wheel, but did not finish as a fairly minor crash during the Varese-Campo dei Fiori hill climb forced the car retire, after which it was sent to Maranello for repairs.

At the end of 1953 the car was exported to the USA, specifically the San Francisco area, where it was raced locally, also in the Pebble Beach races, by its enthusiastic new owner. After the last race, at the end of the 1953 season, the car remained in the same ownership but never raced again. It was sold in 1966 and then again in 1976, always remaining in San Francisco area: the second of these new owners was Ed Gilbertson, chief judge and Ferrari expert, who exhibited and drove the car for the next 32 years. In 1998, Gilbertson sold the car to respected Mexican collector, Lorenzo Zambrano. The car accumulated a long series of trophies during the Zambrano period, and became a strong presence at the most prestigious events around the world. Sold in January 2010, and then again less than a year later to its current custodian, in recent years the 166 has been shown and used at the best events in the world, including the legendary “Ferraris in the Pebble Beach Road Races” gathering of 2015, held a few days before the Pebble Beach concours. It is now offered for sale with an estimate of USD 8–10 million.

1973 Porsche 911 Carrera RS 2.7 Lightweight

In the Porsche community, there are some models that have acquired iconic status because they perfectly symbolize what the company manufactures: road cars with a definite racing twist. In this sense, there can be no better Porsche than the 911 Carrera RS 2.7 (identifiable by its distinctive duck tail), especially if it is in the lightweight configuration. The one being offered for sale at the RM Sotheby’s auction (chassis #9113600336) is one of the 200 Lightweight Sports built, and one of the first 500 Carrera RS versions. Unusually, for a car of this kind, it has never been raced or damaged, and it boasts a perfect history, which can be traced right back to its very first owner. Furthermore, it still has its matching numbers engine and gearbox. It was completed on December 23rd 1972, finished in Light Yellow, and upholstered with a black leatherette interior, and was then registered, in Friedburg (D), on January 22nd, 1973.

RM Sotheby's Amelia Island auction: Porsche 911 Carrera RS Lightweight

Photo © Darin Schnabel

The second owner took possession of it five years later, and after keeping it for a couple of years sold it, in 1980, to an American IBM engineer then working in Germany, who imported the car into California upon his return home. In 1987, after being in storage for three years in the owner’s barn, the 911 was sold to a buyer in Alabama, resprayed, and used again. It changed hands a further time, in 1995, before being purchased by its current owner in 2002. Although this is not a 100-point car, it remains one of the most original in existence. It is offered for sale, without reserve, with an estimate of USD 0.8–1 million.

1937 Bugatti Type 57S Cabriolet by Vanvooren

The Bugatti 57, launched at the 1936 Paris Motor Show, wears one of the most distinctive chassis built in Molsheim. The car being offered on this occasion (chassis #57513) is very rare, having one of the only 42 chassis built in the “S” version (the “S” standing for “Surbaisse”, which is French for lowered); it is one of the only four Type 57S Cabriolets built by Parisian coachbuilder Vanvooren, of which only three, including this one, still survive. The chassis was originally sold in early 1937 to Parisian François Labesse, an avid Bugatti collector and also owner of a number of Vanvooren cars. On March 22nd, 1937, the rolling chassis #57513 was shipped by train to Vanvooren to be dressed in its body, and the finished car was delivered to its first owner on July 7th the same year. Less than two years later, he died and his family put the car up for sale. At this point it is reported to have done 8000 kilometers.

In the summer of 1939 the Bugatti was registered in the UK, where it remained throughout the war years. In the early 1950s, it was acquired by British Bugatti enthusiast Jack Lemon Burton who, subsequently, sold it, in 1954, to another British Bugatti collector, who used it to compete in minor tourism races and for touring in continental Europe. Its participation in all these events is fully documented thanks to the reports he published in the Bugatti club magazine. In May 1962 the car was sold to the president of the Bugatti club, who proceeded to do some work on it, including giving it a full repaint in black over its original yellow. It was during this ownership that the original engine was removed from the car and replaced with an unnumbered 57G competition engine, built to serve the factory team as an extra during the 1937 Le Mans. However, the original engine was kept as a spare.

RM Sotheby's Amelia Island auction: Bugatti 57

Photo © Darin Schnabel

Soon afterwards the car was “relegated” to a museum piece. It was not until the death of this owner, who had kept the car for more thirty years, that it came up for sale once again. This time it was purchased, in 1991, by the president of the French Bugatti club, who refitted the original engine and then drove it to many international events. Bought in 1995 by an American collector, now the consignor, the Bugatti spent most of the next couple of decades on static display. In early 2016 it was delivered to the RM restoration center, where it has received some top class care. The 57S is now offered for sale with an estimate of USD 8.5–10 million.

1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta

The 250 GT in the SWB configuration is considered, by many, the quintessential Ferrari, a model that, in terms of design, proportion of volumes and speed, absolutely epitomizes the manufacturing philosophy of the legendary Maranello-based company. The car here offered (chassis #2639), with matching numbers engine, is one of the 41 250 GTs built to road specification in 1961, and the 83rd built overall. Even though it was not meant to be a competition car, this SWB was fitted with many racing features, like competition Weber carburetors, an upgraded camshaft, and a ribbed competition gearbox; similarly, it was given no front or rear bumpers. To save weight, the doors, hood and trunk lid were all in alloy. In total, only 10 or 11 cars were manufactured with characteristics like these.

RM Sotheby's Amelia Island auction: Ferrari 250 GT SWB

Photo © Erik Fuller

Finished in Grigio Argento on Nero Vaumol leather, the car was ready for delivery on July 31st, when it was shipped to the Genoa distributor to be purchased by a local man, Marco Dallorso. At the end of that decade, the car was sold, through the Rome agency, to Edwin Niles of Los Angeles. In the 1980s, after a long series of owners, it underwent a mechanical rebuild and body restoration work. It was repainted in red and the black leather was replaced with the present tan interior. In 1985 the car was sold and sent to Switzerland, where it had another long series of owners, followed by a short “spell” in Germany, before, in 2001, returning to the USA, where it was bought by its current owner in 2011. This Ferrari Classiche certified, matching numbers car, with a Best in Show trophy, won at the 2015 Concorso Italiano, is now offered with a pre-sale estimated value of USD 9–10 million.

1956 MaseratiA6G/54 Coupe Frua

For a long time, the Maserati A6, its name denoting the presence of an Alfieri Maserati six-cylinder engine, was this firm’s main production car. The 1954 model, with a “ghisa” (cast iron) block, hence the G, was a detuned version of the DOHC Formula 2 engine. Produced from 1954 to 1957, 65 of this model were built in total, and the involvement of different coachbuilders meant that they had a variety of coachwork styles. This particular car (chassis #2181) is one of the only two 3rd series cars built as a coupe, and the only one known to still exist. It was first shown at the 1956 Turin Auto Show, before returning to the factory to be “properly finished” and prepared for sale. It was immediately shipped to the USA, where it was shown at the Pomona race track as part of a display, and then sold to an owner in Phoenix, AZ. Changing hands a number of times over the following years, this car, like many others, had its engine replaced with an American V-8 during the 1960s, before being fitted with a more correct engine (taken from a Maserati 3500 GT) in 1978.

RM Sotheby's Amelia Island auction: Maserati A6G54

Photo © Darin Schnabel

Another series of owners culminated, in 2007, in a sale that took the car to Germany, where a total restoration was commissioned. As part of this work, a correct A6G/54 engine (number 2104) was tracked down (in the USA) and paired with a correct gearbox, located in Italy, and both were installed in the car. After being sold to its current American owner in 2012, the car was finished and prepared for concourses, going on to win the Maserati class at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car is offered, without reserve, with an estimated value of USD 1.6–2 million.

1928 Bentley 4.5 Liter Le Mans Sports, “The Bobtail” by Vanden Plas

The Bentley 4.5 liter was a machine born to race; the ultimate pre-war Bentley, it became the quintessential symbol of the company and a much loved tourer. After it won Le Mans in 1927, the works team was determined to make every effort to repeat this success in 1928. Accordingly, they prepared three new cars, one of which is the car offered here (chassis #KM 3088), fitted with engine number MF 3175. The engine was prepared in such a way as to allow shorter pit stops, and the car was given a reserve oil tank, controlled by the driver, a new single-plate clutch and non-self-wrapping front brakes. The body was built, as an open tourer, by Vanden Plas, carefully designed to comply with the strict regulations of the French marathon. All this resulted in a four-seater car with a short and rounded back, a near vertical spare wheel, and the “bobtail” cowling that gave the model its nickname. Finished in Napier Green paint and upholstered in green fabric, it was completed on May 25th 1928. Allocated race number 2, it was driven in the 1928 Le Mans race by Frank Clement and Dr J. Dudley “Benjy” Benjafield. After leading for the first few hours, car number 2’s engine overheated because of a loose pipe and was forced to retire, but the underlying problem was a cracked chassis frame.

RM Sotheby's Amelia Island auction: Bentley 4.5

Photo © Darin Schnabel

Repaired at Bentley Motors just afterwards, it is still not clear whether the chassis was replaced or repaired. The car then took part in the 1928 Shelsley Walsh, after which it was offered for sale through an ad placed in The Motor dated August 21st, 1928. It was bought by Bentley Boy, Sir Ronald Gunter. Some races later, the car was back at Le Mans, with racing number 10, to compete in the 1929 24 Hours. Mechanical problems dogged it throughout the race but it still managed to finish 3rd overall, and thus contributed to a fantastic crop of results for the Bentley team, which took 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. Soon after that race, the car was sold to Lauchlan Rose, who installed a new “D-type” gearbox and used the car until 1933, when he sold it, immediately regretting the decision, to RAF instructor Lewis Rivers Oldmeadow.

The new owner took good care of the car and gave it a new steering wheel. Because the war intervened, he was forced, in 1939, to sell the car, which disappeared from view for a decade. In 1949, it was rediscovered by Lauchlan Rose, who was thrilled to be reunited with his favorite steed, but saddened by its poor condition. Indeed, it had spent the war years in a dump place; furthermore, because of its strange stamping, it has been suggested that the engine may have been tampered with during this time. However, the engine itself appeared to be the original one, still bearing the RAC scrutineering stamp. Mr Rose decided to restore the car, and he kept it for the next 25 years, before selling it to prominent Bentley collector Bill Lake. It was Lake’s son, after his father’s death in 2004, who eventually sold the car to a new owner, and the latter subsequently sold it, in 2012, to its present one. A real piece of Bentley history, this wonderful machine, still very original, is offered for sale with a pre-sale estimated value of USD 6.5–7.5 million.

For more information, please visit the Amelia Island auction website of RM Sotheby’s.

All photos courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

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