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RM Sotheby’s 2019 Monterey sale – Preview

RM Sotheby’s will this year be departing from tradition in Monterey, by holding a three-day rather than the usual two-day sale. The event will begin on Thursday August 15th, and will take place, as always, at the Portola Hotel in Monterey. The lots will be previewed on Wednesday 14th, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and also on the days of the sale itself, from 10 a.m. up to 4.00 p.m. The bidding will get under way at 5.30 p.m. on all three days. Sales of up to USD 250 K will be subject to 12% commission, while the rate will be 10% on any amount paid over this threshold. 

The Thursday, devoted to “An Evening with Aston Martin”, will be a single-brand sale that will see 34 cars (plus two automobilia lots) crossing the block; a further 141 cars (and three automobilia lots) will be offered in the course of the other two evenings, adding up to a grand total of 175 cars up for sale. 46% of the cars (80 in total) will be offered without a reserve price, meaning that they are bound to sell. Among the cars offered, 19 have been assigned estimates that break the one million dollar barrier, 10 are expected to fetch at least USD 2 million, three USD 3 million, two 4 and two 5 million, one 7 million, three 8 million, one 10 million, and one 21 million. One lot, a 1939 Porsche Type 64, is being offered with an undisclosed estimate, although it will likely fetch in the region of USD 19–22 million. After excluding the cars with undisclosed estimates, the event’s most valuable car is a 1994 McLaren F1 “Le Mans Specification” (chassis #SA9AB5AC1R1048018), one of the only two of this particular version built. It has covered only 21,500 kilometers from new, and is being offered with an estimate of USD 21–23 million. The car assigned the cheapest estimate (USD 15–20 K) is a 1951 Crosley CD-Super Station Wagon (chassis #CD305972), which is also being offered without reserve. The oldest car in the catalog is a 1914 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Landaulette by Barker (chassis #25 EB); still with its original chassis, engine and body, this car is expected to sell for USD 700–900 K. Instead, the youngest car in the sale is a 2019 McLaren Senna (chassis #SBM15ACA0KW800434) with one owner from new and only the delivery mileage on the clock (estimate USD 1.35–1.65 million). One car likely to be a highlight of the sale is a matching numbers, Ferrari Classiche-certified 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta (chassis #3359 GT). This car, in stunning condition, is being offered without reserve with an estimate of USD 8–10 million. 

1965 Aston Martin DB5 Shooting Brake, coachwork by Radford (lot 108)

The DB5, thanks to its sheer beauty and its starring role alongside a certain “Bond, James Bond”, is one of the most iconic Aston Martins ever built. Back in period, 12 DB5 chassis, including just four in LHD configuration, were sent to English coachbuilder Radford to be built as Shooting Brakes. The Shooting Brake, a two-door station wagon, was and remains a quintessentially British design – a configuration envisaged for gentlemen with a passion for polo (like Sir David Brown) or for dogs (again, like Sir David), who wanted a beautiful GT with the space to accommodate their passion. Indeed, this is precisely what Brown asked his technicians to come up with. The specimen being offered (chassis #DB5/2273/L) was originally ordered with the Shooting Brake conversion, and it was sold new to a Mr. Rainer Heumann in Switzerland. Shipped over on December 1st, 1965, it has remained there ever since. As extra specifications, the car was equipped with a power-operated radio aerial, front seat belts, and the initials RH on both doors. Heumann kept the DB5 for the following 30 years, using it on a daily basis. In 2001, five years after his death, it was sold by his estate. In 2003, still with its second owner, the DB5 was restored by Aston Engineering, with some modifications: the rear tail lights (originally DB6 units) were replaced with DB5 ones, like those on Sir David Brown’s car, the engine was increased to 4.2 liters, and the automatic transmission was replaced with a 5-speed ZF gearbox. The current owner bought the car in 2009, and had brand specialists T.S. Williams upgrade the engine to a 4.7-liter configuration and install stiffer springs and shock absorbers. The car is now offered for sale with an estimate of USD 1–1.4 million. 

1961 Ferrari 400 Superamerica SWB, Coupe Aerodinamico by Pininfarina (lot 220)

The 4-liter V12 Superamerica was created specifically to offer the very wealthiest American (but not only American) customers something absolutely extraordinary, in terms of both style and performance, to drive around in. For this reason, and also because of its “special sale price”, very few were built, each one differing, in some details at least, from the others. Chassis #2631 SA, still today a matching numbers car, is the fifth of the only 17 Superamerica short wheelbase versions built, and it was completed on November 3rd, 1961. Originally built with open headlights, in Blu Lancia (blue) over Blu-Grigio (blue-gray) leather interiors, it was first sold in Italy to a Mr Emanuele Rivetti. The very next year, it was already in the USA, having been sold through Luigi Chinetti Motors, to a Bob Grossman, who in turn sold it to John Mecom, son of oil magnate John Mecom Sr. and former owner of the NFL New Orleans team. #2631 remained with Mecom until 1970, and one highlight of that time was its appearance, in April 1963, on the cover of Car & Driver. In 2014, by which time it was already Ferrari Classiche certified and had passed through several American ownerships, it was purchased by its current owner. This is a well-known 400 SA with a clear history. Now equipped with different carburetors and sporting a different color combination compared with the original ones, it is offered with an estimate of USD 2.9–3.5 K. 

1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype (lot 252)

There are few cars as historically important as the Ford GT40, which was created by Ford specifically to outclass Ferrari in its own field. Indeed, it represented Ford’s retaliation for Enzo Ferrari’s last-minute decision to back out of signing an agreement to sell his company to the Detroit giant. During the study and development phases, different configurations were envisaged for the GT40, and of the 12 prototypes manufactured, five had a roadster configuration. The car offered (chassis #GT/108) is the first of these five, and the eighth of the 12 prototypes. It is now the only surviving GT40 Roadster known have kept, throughout its life, its original configuration. Built at the Ford Advanced Vehicle department, it was completed in March 1965, equipped with a Cobra specification Ford 289 engine and Borrani wheels. Under the supervision of John Wyer, it was immediately test driven, by Sir John Whitmore and Dickie Atwood, at Silverstone, before being invoiced to Shelby American as a “temporary importation for test purposes”. On April 4th, 1965, a Shelby works order instructed the staff to perform necessary repairs and modifications, prior to sending the car on a promotional tour that would see it appearing at different American racing events (including a special event for Ford’s board members, where Henry Ford II was driven by Carroll Shelby himself); the car was also driven by Ken Miles and Jim Clark. It appeared in the October 1965 issue of Car & Graphic magazine, and, shortly afterwards, was given to Kar Kraft for further developments and to be used as a test car for the J and X series. In 1969 it was sold to Kraft employee George Sawyer, who freshened the car for road use and installed a rebuilt 289 engine and ZF transaxle taken from the prototype Mach1. Having passed through the hands of several other American owners, the GT 40, always well looked after, was purchased by a Mr Tom Congleton, who had the car mechanically refreshed, albeit keeping it as original as possible. In April 1984 it was featured in the magazine Autoweek. Eight years later, in 1992, it was sold to a West Coast collector who showed it at Pebble Beach (in 2003) and Amelia Island (in 2013) before selling it to its current owner, who took it to The Quail in 2017 and back to Pebble Beach in 2018. It is now offered with an estimate of USD 7–9 million. 

1961 Maserati 5000 GT Coupe, coachwork by Carrozzeria Ghia (lot 342)

This is a truly amazing lot, for two reasons. First, the Maserati 5000 GT is one of the rarest and most appreciated Maserati road models ever manufactured; indeed, only 34 were built in total, to as many as eight different designs. Second, for decades, the whereabouts of this particular car (chassis #AM103 018), a one-off bodied by Carrozzeria Ghia, was a mystery, to the point that it was considered lost. The whole 5000 GT project stemmed from a request made by Shah Reza Pahlavi: he liked the 3500 GT, but wanted something more exclusive. In Modena, it was decided that the perfect solution would be to upgrade the racing 4.5 liter V8, also making it road usable. The result was the 5000, designed by Sergio Sartorelli, chief designer at Carrozzeria Ghia. #AM103 018 was the ninth 5000 GT built, and it was delivered, in July 1961, to Ferdinando Innocenti, creator of the Lambretta moped. In October 1961 the car was shown, on the Ghia stand, at the Turin Motor Show, and, before being returned to its owner, it was test driven by Bernard Cahier, who then wrote a full report on it for the January 1962 issue of Sports Car Graphic. Innocenti only kept the 5000 GT for a short period of time. There then followed several Italian ownerships, after which it was sold to an owner in Saudi Arabia. There, it was subsequently bought by a certain Rubayan Alrubayan. This is the point at which it disappeared from view; indeed, at some time in the 1970s, Alrubayan parked the car outside and forgot all about it. It is only very recently that this last owner’s heirs, several years since his death, finally decided, after 50 years, to bring it under cover and offer it for sale. This is just as well, as the presence of spray paint on the door indicates that it had been classed as abandoned and earmarked to be scrapped. Its new owner, to restore it, will face a difficult and costly task, but if the work is well executed, it could result in the rebirth of one of the most amazing cars ever built. This car is offered, without reserve, with an estimate of USD 500–700K. 

1930 Bentley 6.5-litre “Speed Six” Sportsman’s Saloon, coachwork by H.J. Mulliner (lot 354)

Nothing is more impressive than a 6.5-litre Bentley, particularly one manufactured in the Speed Six configuration, which, from a technical perspective, is considered W.O. Bentley’s best ever design. The car offered for sale (chassis #LR2778), even today in extremely original condition — all the main components, such as the engine, transmission and body, are still the original ones —, was initially sold in India, to Man Singh II, the 18-year-old Maharaja of Jaipur. Featuring a Sportsman’s Saloon body designed by H.J. Mulliner, it was built using the latest evolution of Frenchman Charles Weymann’s patented body-building method, in which synthetic leather was used instead of steel or alloy cockpit body panels. A Lalique Coq Nain on the radiator and a rectangular Hobson telegauge in the instrument panel completed the specification. In September 1937, the car was back in England, registered to a certain Denis “Denny” Becker and wearing license plates reading DUU 618. Becker shortly afterwards had a Bluemel steering wheel installed. After the war, he used it extensively for Continental touring, sometimes letting his teenage son, Simon, take the wheel. Simon inherited the car in 1951, and continued both to use it, also for his 1954 honeymoon, and to take good care of it. By 1974, however, it was considered no longer practical for everyday use and was therefore sold, to a Mr. Ian Findlater. He kept it for 30 years, before selling it to a German collector. In 2010 it was bought by its current owner, who had English specialists R.C. Moss perform a perfect restoration, retaining as much as possible of this highly original car. Bentley historian Dr. Clare Hay was put in charge of supervising the work and doing the historical research. The result is a perfect car, offered for sale together with a 106-page book detailing all the stages in its restoration. Considered one of the best Bentley 6.5-litre models, this car, which won three awards at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is now offered for sale with an estimate of USD 2.6–3.2 million. 

1939 Porsche Type 64 (lot 362)

In 1939, to mark the Pact of Steel between Germany and Italy, these two countries’ leaders had the idea of staging a race that would link their respective capitals, Berlin and Rome. However, the war intervened and the idea was never turned into reality. A tangible reminder of it, however, is this amazing Porsche Type 64, the only survivor of the three cars built by Ferdinand Porsche to race under the German flag, and now the oldest car to wear the name Porsche on its front. It was test driven both by engineer Ferdinand Porsche and by his son “Ferdy”. Like the subsequent post-war 356, it was based on the Beetle (still being studied and tested at that time) and intensively developed in the wind tunnel that allowed the development of a 60 HP car capable of reaching a top speed of 180 km/h. The first Type 64 (chassis #38/41) was damaged in a crash, and number two was destroyed just after the war. The car offered here is number 3. It is based on the repaired chassis #38/41, which was paired with a new body, built for experimental use, that was completed in June 1940. After being frequently used by the Porsche family in the period immediately after the war, in 1949 it was sold to finance the newly-founded Porsche company, although not before first being decorated with the Porsche sign — legend has it that this was applied by Ferdy Porsche himself — on its front. The car’s first “non-Porsche” owner was Austrian privateer racing car driver Otto Mathé, who raced and used it for the next 46 years. Mathé rejected several written requests from Ferdy Porsche, who wanted to buy the car back for the new Porsche museum, which was opened in 1964. Mathé showed the car at the 1983 Pebble Beach concours. In 1997, two years after Mathé’s death, it was sold by his family to Viennese resident and Porsche collector, Dr. Thomas Gruber. In 2008, he sold it to its third, and so far last, private owner, who as well as preserving its amazing originality, also managed to reunite it with its original engine, number 38/43, which had been with a friend of the Mathé family. The car is now offered, for the first time in a public sale, with an estimate of USD 19–22 million, and it will be interesting to see whether it returns to the Porsche “family” or remains in private hands.

Image copyright and courtesy of RM Sotheby’s.

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