2018 Bonhams Amelia Island sale: from a 1899 Panhard to a 2016 Corvette

As Spring approaches, the classic car world traditionally moves to the “sunshine state” of Florida. There, Bill Warner’s Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, one of the most beautiful classic car shows in the world, provides all the most renowned international auction houses — Bonhams, Gooding & Co., and RM Sotheby’s — with the ideal setting for a spring sale, and a perfect opportunity to catch the first rays of the year! This year, the first Amelia Island sale, kicking off on Thursday March 8th at 1 p.m. USA Eastern Standard Time (or at 12 noon for the automobilia lots), is the one organized by Bonhams at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club of Fernandina Beach, FL. Viewing for this sale will be possible all day on Wednesday, March 7th (from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and will continue the following day, from 9 a.m. up to the start of the sale.

The buyer’s premium, for car lots, will be 12% on the value of transactions worth up to USD 250,000 and 10% on any amount paid over this threshold. The catalog includes 102 cars (in addition to a Porsche tractor), and 54 of these 102 are being offered with no reserve price. The lots cover a wide period: the oldest car in the catalog is a 1899 Panhard et Levassor 6HP Twin Cylinder Vagonette by Driguet (engine number 1510) and the youngest a 2016 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 C7.R Edition coupe (chassis # 1G1YT2D61G5500002). The event will feature 10 cars built since the start of the new millennium, and just three with estimates above the million dollar mark, of which only one, a 1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider, is expected to fetch in excess of USD 2 million. The car with the lowest estimated value (USD 15–25 K), being offered without reserve, is a 1995 Jaguar XJS Convertible (chassis # SAJNX2741SC199049) with just two owners and 11,000 miles covered since new.

1973 Ferrari 365 GTS/4 Daytona Spider by Scaglietti

The 365 GTB/4, which was soon nicknamed Daytona, is the last front-engine gran turismo developed in Maranello. The “trademark” of Ferrari Daytonas is their 4.4-liter DOHC V12 engine that delivers more than 320 HP and emits a sound that, once heard, is never forgotten. Just 123 were given a soft top and, accordingly, named 365 GTS/4, although they are most commonly known by the name Daytona Spider. Designed by a young Leonardo Fioravanti for Pininfarina, Daytonas are now much sought after collectibles, particularly those in the rare open version, like the one offered here.

This car (chassis #16801, still paired with its original engine, numbered B2630, featured in the header of this posting) is a superb example of the model, having been well looked after. It has covered only 20,300 miles from new and had just three owners in the last 40 years. The 88th of the series to roll off the production line, it was built at the start of 1973 in LHD specification (for the US market) and painted in Rosso Chiaro over Pelle Nera interior, the combination it still wears today. Finished in February 1973, it was soon shipped to the Western US Ferrari importer, Modern Classic Motors of Reno, Nevada, owned by William F. Harrah. By 1976 the car was in Miami (FL), owned by Jeff Weiss who kept it until 1987, when, with 15,099 miles on the clock, it was sold to a Mr Erich Eichler of Pennsylvania. Eichler had it professionally restored to concours level (the receipts of payment for this work are still available). By the late 1990s, the car was in the ownership of collector Peter Livanos of Gstaad (CH), and it remained with him for about 20 years before returning, in 2017, to the USA, where it underwent some recommissioning work. Fitted with correct Borrani wheels and fresh Michelin XWX tires, and equipped with A/C, it remains, at the age of 45 years, a fantastic cruiser. It has been estimated to be worth USD 2.4–2.7 million.

1953 Jaguar XK 120 Roadster

At the time of its launch, in 1948, the Jaguar XK 120 was not only one of the fastest production cars available, but also one of the most beautiful. Today, 70 years on, a normal compact car can easily match its top speed, but when it comes to style and beauty it is in a league of its own. Indeed, the Jaguar XK 120 is still considered one of the most beautiful cars ever manufactured. The one crossing the block at Amelia Island (chassis # 674160) was built in 1953, in LHD specification, and immediately shipped to the USA.

Nothing is known about the early period of the car’s life, including its ownership in that time, but it seems that Steven Sigwarth, of Cedar Rapids (IA), was probably only its second owner. When he acquired the car, it was in original unrestored but decent condition. He nevertheless commissioned a complete professional restoration that lasted 3–4 years, at the end of which the car was once again in excellent condition, sporting its original color combination of silver on red, and with its original, matching numbers engine still in place, as documented by a Heritage Trust Certificate. In 2000 it was purchased by its next owner, who looked after it beautifully for just over a decade. Similarly, the consignor, who bought it in 2011, carried on using it and taking good care of it. Offered without reserve, it is expected to fetch around USD 90–120 K.

1936 Bentley 41/4 Litre Drophead Coupe by Park Ward

In the 1930s Bentleys were “must have” cars for anyone wanting something well engineered, refined and sporty. Although the coachwork was, of course, customized to the requirements of the future owner, most the 2442 cars built with the 4257 cc six-cylinder overhead valve engine, like the Drophead Coupe (chassis # B57KU) being offered at the forthcoming Bonhams sale, were given a body created by Park Ward. This car was ordered new by Vandervell Brothers, the company run by Guy “Tony” Vandervell, who subsequently founded the Vanwall racing team. Delivered in September 1938, it is described on the build sheet as a saloon, but this could well have been a mistake, or alternatively it could be an indication that the first owner had a change of mind between placing the initial order for the car (meaning the rolling chassis) and ordering the body for it.

There is no doubt that the current Drophead body is the original one, as is the customized high-speed rear end, a feature that cost 360 GBP (a large amount of money back then), on top of the cost of the chassis (GBP 1,150). The car’s next owner was the Earl of Tweeddale, in Scotland, and it remained with him for a considerable length of time before being sold to an owner in Sweden, who loved driving the car and did so all year round. This explains why the car is equipped with a modern heater for the cockpit and also a Laycock overdrive. In 2015 the car was bought by its current owner. It was in good order, but fell short of the level of perfection he wanted. He therefore embarked on some mechanical work, which included the fitting of a new cylinder head and high capacity oil sump, a re-cored radiator and, for the body, a new top and carpet and new upholstery. He also had the wings repainted. Now ready to be driven or shown, the car is offered with an estimated value of USD 200–250 K.

1913 American Underslung Model 34A Tourist Four Passenger Touring

As a general rule, the cars of the early 1920s are considered lacking in style and appeal. While this might be true to an extent, it certainly does not apply to the American Automobile Company Underslung Model 34A, whose amazing low shape for the period impresses everyone who sees it. The innovative design, which saw the frame rails placed below the axles, gave the Underslungs a significantly reduced center of gravity as well as a distinctive look, which was further enhanced by the significantly oversized wheels that served to eliminate problems of ground clearance.

The history of the car offered, engine number 4558, is not known in detail. It is thought to have been acquired, as part of a package deal, from collectors Bob and Ruth Toney, at one time residents of Merced, California. But it was purchased as a rolling chassis; its body had been lost at some point during its life and its whereabouts was not known. There followed a painstaking project, whose aim was to recreate a correct body for the car. This work was apparently completed in 2008. Since then the car has been shown several times. It was awarded the AACA National Chocolate Town Trophy at Hershey in 2013 and another highlight was its appearance at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance in 2014. It is offered, ready to be enjoyed, with an estimate of USD 200–275 K.

1965 Maserati Sebring Series II by Vignale

The Maserati Sebring, launched in 1962, was the final evolution of the 3500 GT project, a model pivotal in the establishing Maserati as a manufacturer of series models. Whereas the 3500 coupes were dressed by different stylists, all but one of the convertibles, based on a shortened chassis, were bodied by Carrozzeria Vignale. The Sebring saw the SWB chassis of the 3500 convertible paired with a coupe body manufactured by Carrozzeria Vignale. In 1965, the market was given the evolution, or second series, of the Sebring, of which only 247 were manufactured in total; this updated model featured a new front and revised engine. The car offered (chassis # AM101/10*103, with matching numbers engine) was completed in July 1965 in the color combination of Azzurro Vincennes on Senape interior and delivered, equipped with A/C, to Mrs Rosa d’Agostino in Rome. Nothing further is known until 2013, when the car (still with matching numbers) turned up in the Netherlands. In quite good shape, it is offered with an estimated value of USD 275–325 K.

1988 Porsche 911 Carrera 3.2 Targa “Rijkspolitie”

National police forces across Europe have often shown pretty good taste in cars: the Alfa Romeo Giulia in Italy, the Range Rover in Britain, and the Alpine A110 in France are typical examples. The decision in Germany and the Netherlands to use the top-of-the range Porsche 911 as a patrol car was great choice that aroused admiration, and quite probably a degree of fear in the criminal world!

Unsurprisingly, given that we are talking about working cars used on a daily basis, their survival rate is not very high, with the result that it is now unusual come across a Porsche 911 “ex-police” car, and still less one sporting its original colors. The one being offered at the Bonhams auction (chassis # WP0ZZZ91ZJS140403) is one of the 500 Porsches bought and used by the Netherlands police force between 1945 and 1996. The Algemene Verkeers Dienst (AVD) was a special traffic unit formed in 1962, and it was given these Porsches for patrolling the roads. The open version was preferred, as it gave the crew better visibility and, in emergency situations, allowed officers to stand on the seat and give directions to other road users.

This 1988 car, with 251,945 kilometers on the clock, worked for many years, after which little is known of its history. It has been well maintained and looks good, with its paintwork (in police colors) still in pretty good shape. It retains the modifications done for the police department, which include a passenger-side door mirror, two internal rear-view mirrors, additional electrical wiring for communications, flashing lights and ‘STOP’ sign, extra reversing and rear fog lights, and a mobile phone. A wooden box located in the car contains two CEAG lights, a Draeger alcohol tester, instructional paperwork, a pair of handcuffs, a tape measure, white markers, a Ricoh camera, two warning triangles, a fire extinguisher, a towing cable, a First Aid kit, a set of spare light bulbs and a wheel wrench. If you want to create a bit of a stir, especially among your motorhead friends, this car, now equipped with a 1987 engine, is offered for sale without reserve, with an estimated value of USD 81–110 K.

For more information on the auction, please visit the website of Bonhams.

All photos courtesy of Bonhams.

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