A glamorous pre-war Bugatti shines at Gooding’s Scottsdale Auction

Gooding & Co. is the last of the three major auction houses to kick off its 2018 season, its first sale of the year getting under way on Friday January 19th , at 11 a.m., and continuing at the same time on Saturday 20th. The auction will take place in North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale (AZ), at the corner with East Highland Avenue. The lots can be viewed from Wednesday 17th through Saturday 19th, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, except for the Sunday, when viewing will end an hour earlier. The buyer’s premium will be 10%. There are 131 lots in the catalog, more than half of which (76 in all) will be offered without reserve.

Gooding’s Arizona auction: from the youngest to the oldest…

The oldest car in the sale, one of those without a reserve price, is a London-to-Brighton-eligible 1903 Oldsmobile Model R Curved Dash Runabout (chassis #11542) with a known history since 1973. The youngest cars up for sale are both from 2015: one is a Porsche 918 Spyder (chassis # WPOCA2A17FS800322) that has done less than 100 miles from new, while the other is a McLaren P1 (chassis # SBM12ABAFW000156) with 1,700 miles on the clock. The car with the lowest estimated value (USD 35–45 K), a preserved California car that is being offered without reserve, is a 1963 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Coupe (chassis # 5287401). The car assigned the highest pre-sale estimate (USD 10–12 million) is a 1956 Jaguar D-Type.

The sale will include three Mercedes 300 SLs, two Roadsters and a Gullwing. Numerous cars are expected to fetch prices in excess of a million dollars. After the Jaguar D-Type, with its lower estimate of USD 10 million, there is a car expected to sell for at least USD 8 million, and another for USD 7 million. A further car has a lower estimate of 5 million, while another is expected to sell for at least USD 4 million. Two cars have each been valued at more than USD 2 million, while a further nine have been estimated to be worth more than USD 1 million. The first five of these cars alone, even if sold at their lower estimated value, would generate a turnover of USD 34 million.

1956 Jaguar D-Type

The D-Type is the quintessential racing Jaguar and the model that, at the time of its production, saw the company reaching new levels of technological innovation, and not only because it was fitted with disk brakes (even though it was the first car to feature these). The D-Type being offered in the Gooding & Co. sale (chassis #XKD 518) is an early production customer car, one of the about 24 built in this configuration. It was delivered new to Jaguar and Rover dealer Henlys of Manchester (GB) in December 1955, one of the very few D-Types to be finished in red. It proved difficult to sell and, in the end, was passed on within the trade, being sold to Bernie Ecclestone before finally finding its first private owner, long-time Jaguar owner and gentleman driver, Peter Blond.

According to Blond, it was love at first sight, and he was more than willing to upgrade from his C-Type, paying GBP 3,500 to exchange it for the brand new red D-Type that proved to be “the greatest road car I ever owned.” Blond also used it in about a dozen races up to mid-1957, achieving some good results. His cousin bought the car from him in summer 1957 and he, too, used it for racing (sometimes teaming up with Peter) until 1959. A long list of British owners followed over the next couple of decades or so, before the car was eventually sold, in 1983, to an American collector George Stauffer, who took it to the US, where he kept it on display in his office for the next 14 years. In 2008, after passing through the hands of a further three American owners, the D-Type was sold to its current owner, remaining in the USA. It is now some years since it was last driven and it will therefore need some work before it is ready to be used, but it is a solid matching numbers car that is considered to be worth in the region of USD 10–12 million.

1962 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (lot 40)

Based on the chassis and the mechanics of the “Ponton” two-liter engine sedan, the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL is the “little sister” of the 300 SL. It is one of the most beautiful looking Mercedes built in the post-war years, but not the sportiest. The one now up for sale (chassis #WDB 12104010024614) is a “normal” 1962 car with an original hard top, but what makes it unique is its history. It was bought new, in France, by American J. Dewey Daane, soon afterwards appointed to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors by President John F. Kennedy, and it remained in his possession until his death last year.

It has covered, in total, a mere 46,000 miles and it still wears its original paint, a nice shade of light blue (DB 334) called Hellblau, which complements the white seats. It is in unmolested condition, and in need of only minor detailing work in order to become a valid contender in the Pebble Beach preservation class. Complete with papers and tools, it is offered for sale, without reserve, with an estimate of USD 160–200 K.

1963 Iso Grifo A3/L (lot 28)

The 1963 Salone di Torino is memorable for the fact that two “sister” cars featured among the show’s exhibits: an Iso A3/C (the C standing for Corsa), shown on the Iso Rivolta stand, and an Iso A3/L (the L standing for Lusso) on the Bertone stand. This decision to exhibit both concepts of the new model developed by the Iso Rivolta  firm based in Bresso (Milan) was taken following internal discussions between the owner, Mr Renzo Rivolta, who was not interested in pursuing racing ambitions, and his technical consultant, engineer Giotto Bizzarrini, who, after his years with Ferrari, was instead keen to return to the race track. Although, even today, it is not clear why, in the end, the L (road car) was shown on the Bertone stand and the racing version on the company’s own stand, what is known is that both cars received great critical acclaim.

The A3/L subsequently evolved into the Iso Rivolta Grifo, and the A3/C into the Bizzarrini 5300. Fast forward a few weeks, and we find young Piero Rivolta, Renzo’s son, test driving the A3/L on the highway between Milan and Bergamo. This was his afternoon job (his mornings were spent at university where he was studying engineering). His task was to study the aerodynamic efficiency of the car at high speed. “I was driving at about 280 kilometers per hour (about 175 mph) and another car, an Iso GT I think, carrying a photographer, was following behind. My job was to drive fast, while the photographer’s was to take pictures of the movement of the short woolen threads attached to the car in order verify its aerodynamics. After going over a slight bump on the road, just on the crest of a small bridge, I found the steering wheel felt very light, so I slowed down. That evening, on examining the printed pictures, we discovered that, as I crossed the bridge, my front wheels had been inches above the tarmac… for a few hundred yards I’d been semi-airborne. The design of the front was acting as a wing, lifting the car”. This is the reason why the front of the A3/L is different from that of the Grifo, and why the car offered here (chassis #420.001, the very car in which Mr Rivolta “took off”), is so special.

After it had done its duty as a show and test car, in the early 1970s, the car was imported into the USA by an actor and then bought by collector Ron Kellogg of Southern California. It was subsequently purchased by a Californian intermediary, by which time it had been repainted orange and the front had been replaced with a standard Grifo one. It is thanks to marque historian Winston Goodfellow, who in the late 1970s discovered that the car was still in existence, that it was subsequently bought, in the early 1980s, by renowned collector John Ling, owner of a restoration shop in Winsconsin. Ling restored the car to its former glory, among other things replacing the front with a replica of the original, created using a CAD program. In 1989 the car was shown at Pebble Beach and won two trophies: First in Class and the Gwenn Graham Memorial Trophy for the most elegant closed car, an amazing success considering that this was the first time in the long history of the Pebble Beach concours that a post-war car had won this award. In 1995 Ling sold the A3/L and its new owner took it back to Pebble Beach, where, for a second time, it won its class. After this, it changed hands a few more times, always in the USA, before finally being purchased by its current custodian. Perfectly maintained, and with a mere 52,000 kilometers recorded on the clock (the reading was around 50,000 at the time of its restoration), it is now offered for sale with an estimated value of USD 1.1–1.5 million.

1931 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster (lot 122)

for photo see header image
Most definitely derived from racing models, the Bugatti Type 55 was the creation of Ettore Bugatti’s son, Jean. A fast driver, wonderful technician and very talented designer, young Jean represented the “revolutionary” vision within the company and, with the full support of his far more traditional father, increasingly became, over the years, its driving force. The Bugatti offered for sale at the Gooding & Co. auction (chassis 55201 with the matching number engine 1) is the very first Type 55 built. It was completed in early October 1931, equipped with a special open Roadster body, designed by Jean himself. It has certain features that distinguish it from all subsequent Roadsters, such as the more raked windscreen and the Grand Prix style hood.

The 55 was in fact described as a Type 51 Grand Prix in an evening gown! After being used as a demonstration car in Paris, at the end of October 1931 it was sold, for 95,000 French Francs plus a slightly used Bugatti 43 Grand Sport, to its first owner, 21-year-old Louis Jean Marie de La Trémoille (a member of one of France’s oldest families), who died just over two years later in a house fire. In 1934 the car was sold to its second owner (about whom nothing is known) and “updated” to the Figoni style, popular in the period, with enclosed rear wheels and an extended tail section. The car survived the war and in 1946 entered a new French ownership, the first of a series over the next decade. It remained in France until 1956, when it was sold and exported to Otto Zipper’s Precision Motors dealership in Los Angeles. A couple of American owners later, the 55 (by this time in the American Midwest) was bought by Dr Peter Williamson in June 1963. He returned it to its original configuration and then kept it for 45 years until his death in 2008. The 55 was subsequently offered for sale at a Gooding Pebble Beach auction. Estimated to be worth USD 1.4–2.1 million, it was bought by its current owner for USD 1.76 million. It has since been completely restored and is now offered for sale with an estimated value of USD 4–5 million.

1951 Alfa Romeo 1900C Sprint Touring (lot 136)

The Alfa 1900 C (C standing for Corto and indicating the short chassis version) was introduced in 1951 and immediately made available to different coachbuilders. The first chassis (number #00051) was given to Carrozzeria Touring Milano to be dressed as a Coupe, while the second (#00052) was assigned to Pinin Farina to be turned into a Cabriolet. The third in the series (chassis #AR1900 00053), which is the car offered here, was also assigned to Carrozzeria Touring Milano, again to be dressed as a Coupe, but this time one built with the Superleggera technique, as it was intended to be driven by legendary racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio. Fangio received the Nocciola Metallizzato (metallic hazelnut) car in November 1951, shortly after winning his first Formula 1 World Championship with the Alfa Romeo 159, and just before the Milanese firm decided not to participate in the Formula 1 championship the following season.

Fangio’s 1900C differs in a number of details from the standard Touring Coupes, for example it has fenders built to resemble those of the prewar 6Cs, a smaller three-quarter rear window and sweeping C-pillar, and the instruments are positioned differently. Soon afterwards the 1900C was imported into Argentina, from where, in 1988, it was sent to the USA where it was bought, the following year, by its current owner, based in California. In 1990, Fangio was reunited with “his” car during a trip to San Diego, and, in 2007 the car completed a three-year-long restoration carried out by Symbolic Motor Cars of La Jolla (CA), just before winning its class at Pebble Beach. It is offered for sale with an estimated value of USD 500–700 K.

1965 Ferrari 275 GTB “Speciale” (lot 134)

In unveiling the 275 GTB at the 1964 Paris Motor Show, Pininfarina presented the world with the ultimate shape of the 1960s. But despite this achievement, Battista “Pinin” Farina, a passionate car guy, could not leave it there, and in 1965 decided to further develop the concept of the 275 GTB. His hard work and enormous enthusiasm thus led to the production of a “Speciale” version of the 275, a car built to reflect his own personal tastes.

This special car (based on chassis #06437, one of the two given to him by Ferrari in 1964 on which to design the new body) is the one now being offered for sale. As soon as it was ready, with its transformed body and interior, this car, the only 275 not built at Scaglietti, was exhibited in four car shows (as well as at every official meeting of the Turin firm). Thus, Frankfurt, Paris and Turin in 1965 and Brussels in 1966 became the main showcases where the public could admire this one-off car, painted in Acqua Verde metallizzato (a metallic blue green, one of the official Alfa Romeo colors) and with China Red leather interior. In January 1966, just after the Brussels Show, the 275 was sold to Vittorio Torchio, of Pino Torinese (in the Turin area). Its next owner was Mauro Indemini of Garessio (in the Cuneo area of Italy).

In 1968 it was exported to the USA, where its first known American owner registered it in San Francisco in 1970. After being purchased by a Carmel resident), it was sold in 1992 (by this time repainted dark red) to European Auto Sales in Costa Mesa (California), which immediately sold it to famous Ferrari collector Brandon Wang, who had it completely restored at the European Auto Sales shop, returning it to its original colors. After taking Second in Class at Pebble Beach that same year, it was then sold, in 1993, to its current owner, a coachbuilt and competition Ferrari collector who has kept it very privately and never shown it in public. It is now offered with an estimate of USD 8–10 million.

All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.
Photos by Mathieu Heurtault.

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