Gooding Amelia Island Auction 2019 – Preview N° 2
The journalist and Concours d’Elegance judge Massimo Delbò has chosen six cars from each auction, which he believes to be of special interest. At the end of the auction, Delbò will compare the opinions expressed with the reality of a hammer.
1991 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC (lot 6)
The series W126 coupe is one of the most beautiful post-war Mercedes models, considered the masterpiece of Bruno Sacco, the legendary designer of the 1980s and 1990s.
Increasingly sought after by collectors, both of classics and youngtimers, SECs are not easy cars to find in good conditions. They were, and are, such great cars that they tend to clock up a huge mileage as their owners really do use them. Unfortunately, when their market value dropped many of them also suffered the effects of less careful ownerships, and thus found themselves reduced to little more than old bangers in the hands of wannabes. Exceptionally, the car offered here (chassis #WDBCA45E5MA565963) does not fit this description: its odometer testifies to a fairly low mileage (about 8,000 miles) and it has had only three owners in total. It was built in 1991, the model’s last year of production. It rolled off the production line finished in the very unusual color of Blackberry Pearl Metallic (color code DB481U) over beige interiors, and equipped with seat belts featuring emergency pretensioners, as well as driver and passenger front air bags. It was sold new in Florida and then, in the early 2000s, went to New Jersey, where its second owner fitted it with a CD unit. It has been with its third owner since 2017. The car, still in completely original condition, has a fully documented history, with all the services reported. It also comes with a CARFAX vehicle history report. It is offered, without reserve, with an estimate of USD 80–100 K.
1987 BMW M6 (lot 19)
Series 6 E24s, designed by car-style genius Paul Bracq, are among the most charismatic and beautiful BMWs ever built. This is in fact why, other than the M1, the “6” was the model picked, in Munich, to receive the first series production version of the Motorsport-pimped 3.5-liter DOHC six-cylinder engine. When it was launched in November 1986, the M6, which quickly became a must-have car, set a new (very high) standard for supercars, putting mid-range Ferraris and Porsches very much in the shade in terms of performance and driving pleasure. The M6 up for sale on this occasion (chassis #WBAEE140XH2560659) was sold new in the New York area in 1987, finished in red over gray interiors. It has a documented mileage of about 38,000 miles from new. As shown by the maintenance booklet, which reports a service at 34,500 miles, most of these were covered by its first two owners (both from the NY area) in the period up to 1994. Since then it has added only about 4,000 more miles to the clock. It entered its third ownership in 2015. Well maintained and preserved, it is here offered, without reserve, with an estimated value of USD 60–80 K.
1957 AC ACE Bristol (lot 22)
One of the most symbolic British-manufactured open two-seaters of the 1950s, the AC ACE Bristol has a wide following all over the world. These cars are much-loved classics, a pleasure both to drive and to collect. Only 466 specimens of the AC ACE Bristol were produced between 1956 and 1963; all were hand built with an alloy body and equipped with the two-liter six-cylinder engine with three Solex carburetors. Despite being a relative rarity, AC ACE Bristols succeeded in dominating the two-liter class in the SCCA Championship in the USA, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Europe. The car offered (chassis #BEX 274 with engine 100D 603, still in the car) is an original LHD export model.
It was completed on April 17th, 1957, finished in silver over red leather interiors, and shipped to the USA, where it was sold through Hap Dressel’s AC Imports in Arlington, Virginia, to Gerald Henry Lehrer of Baltimore, a gentleman driver who campaigned it in the SCCA races held in that area. When Lehrer moved to California in the late 1950s, the car was left on the East Coast. Little else is known of it until 1974 when, through a used car dealer, it was purchased by a Mr Elmer Wilcox of Buffalo, who repainted it white to match an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider he had purchased some years before. Wilcox took very good care of his AC, enjoying driving it around the upper New York states and, when not using it, storing it in a dedicated single-space garage. This is where, after a couple of decades of static storage, the car was recently discovered by its current owner. It is still in mainly original condition and has a very nice patina. Having remained undriven for so long, it obviously needs to be thoroughly serviced and prepared before it can be used again. It is offered with an estimate of USD 300–350 K.
1965 Ferrari 275 GTS (lot 26)
The 275, a technical evolution of the 250, sporting a larger (3.3-liter) engine, is the first Ferrari production series car equipped with fully independent suspension. Ferrari 275s are wonderful cars to drive and enjoy. The Pininfarina-designed GTS version, quite rare considering that only 200 were built, is one of the most enjoyable Ferraris of the 1960s, capable of reaching impressive speeds, while nevertheless remaining very manageable and pretty reliable. The car offered (chassis #06805, with matching numbers engine) is a very early one, the fourth built. It was completed in January 1965 and displayed at the 1965 Brussels Motor Show on the Ferrari stand. It was, and still is, finished in Rosso Cina over black leather interiors with a red carpet, a classic combination. After the show, and a brief return to Maranello, it was shipped to Luigi Chinetti in the USA and sold to a Mr Donald Andrews of Fort Lauderdale (FL). A second owner followed in 1969, and a third, still in Florida, in 1984. Throughout this time, the car remained well maintained, from time to time participating in rallies or appearing at FCA meetings in the area. It was also featured in the Cavallino magazine. In 2001, 06805 was sold to a Japanese collector but soon (in 2004) returned to the USA, where it first entered the ownership of a Ferrari collector in Maryland and was subsequently sold to its current owner. Never raced, trashed or misused, and boasting a clean and transparent history, it is believed to have covered around 50,000 miles since new. It is now offered with an estimate of USD 1.3–1.6 million.
1930 Packard 734 Speedster Runabout by Packard Custom Bodyworks (lot 33)
The Packard 734 Speedster is considered one of the finest (and most understated) sports car models built in the USA in the pre-war years. A typical factory hot rod, it was the second most powerful American car available in the 1930s (second only to the Duesenberg Model J). It was offered in five different body configurations, of which the Speedster Runabout was the rarest and the most esthetically dramatic.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, it was also pretty expensive, costing in the region of USD 5,000, i.e. about ten times more than a middle-of-the-range sedan. The specimen offered for sale here (chassis #184084, teamed with body 442-23) is one of just 18 (out of the the original 113) 734 Speedster Runabouts known still to survive. It has a known history and also boasts a First in Class at Pebble Beach (2006). It was originally sold to McClure Halley of New York (NY), a prominent personage, described by the New York Times, in his day, as a judge and sportsman of varied interests. He managed one of the estates of the Rockfeller-Dodge family and was a car collector long before this “hobby” had even been invented. His collection included an Alfa 8c 2.9, a Bugatti Type 51, and some “specials”. His Packard 734 was equipped with some special features, such as its single dark-colored body, painted wire wheels, chromed spare covers, Marchal headlamps, radiator cap-mounted tachometer, and auxiliary lights and horns, all extensively certified by period pictures.
Just before the war, the car was purchased by its second owner, photographer and automotive enthusiast, Leo Pavelle of Mount Vernon (NY), after which there followed a long list of other owners. Amazingly, almost all of its past owners were well known individuals, all with a particular passion for cars. As a result, the Speedster was always well taken care of, well documented, and quite often shown in collections or museums. The current owner bought it in 2004 from Otis Chandler, the renowned collector and publisher of the Los Angeles Times who, for much of the time, had kept it on display at his Vintage Museum of Transportation in Oxnard (CA). Before it was shown in Pebble Beach and other American concours events, including Amelia Island in 2007, Chandler had it completely restored by Packard specialists Stone Barn Automotive. It is expected to fetch in the region of USD 1.7–2 million.
1979 Porsche 935 (lot 58)
The 1970s were the decade of “monster” racing sports cars, with big wings and powerful, wild, turbo engines. Porsches of every kind, powered by flat-six engines with increasingly large turbo fans, capable of producing amazing performances, were among the symbols of the period. In 1974, Porsche unveiled its 934, the Group 4 variant of the new, turbocharged 930, while, for the Group 5 specification, it developed the 935, the final evolution of the RSR 2.1 Turbo, featuring an aerodynamic fiberglass body, fully independent coil-spring suspensions and twin plugs.
A pure racing machine, often given a slant nose, the 935 soon become the “beast” to beat in racing circles. In 1977, Porsche further developed the 935, producing the 935/77 for its works team and building 13 cars, based on its 935/76, for privateers. Similarly, in 1978, in response to pressing demand, Porsche developed 17 twin turbo engine-powered cars based on the 935/77, again for private customers. The final evolution, with larger brakes, an inverted gearbox, and a massive single turbocharger, was presented in 1979, and produced in a final run of seven cars for private customers (these cars had chassis numbers from 930 990 0026 to 930 990 0032). The car offered at this Gooding & Co. sale (chassis #930 990 0027) is the second in this final series and it was built to order for Otis Chandler, Porsche enthusiast and publisher of the Los Angeles Times. The original invoice (for USD 134,963,10) dated March 15th, 1979, includes shipping (air freight), adjustable stabilizer and air jacks.
As soon as it arrived in California, the car was sent to Riverside for a test session before racing, on April 22nd, in its first (and only) competition, the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix of Endurance 6-hours of Riverside, valid both for the IMSA Championship and for the FIA Endurance World Championship. Wearing racing number 10 and San Miguel Beer sponsorship, it was driven by Otis Chandler himself and his friend and fellow racer John Thomas. It was running well, even getting into third place, when an engine problem forced it to retire. After the race, a new 3-liter twin turbo engine was built for the car at the renowned ANDIAL workshop in Costa Mesa (CA). Thereafter, it was only used, on occasions, for demonstrative laps during the 1980s. Chandler kept the car until 1993, and, three short-term ownerships later, in 1996, the 935 joined the collection of its current owner, who entered it in some vintage races in the 2000s. Still in its period racing colors, the car comes complete with a huge pile of documentation, beautifully presented, and is offered with an estimated value of USD 2.5–3 million.
All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company.
Photos by Brian Henniker