What better way to kick off the Monterey car week than a look at what the top auction companies are rolling across the block?
I've invited a number of respected market insiders to describe their top picks then round out with my own. The criteria? Name your absolute favorites regardless of value. Now, while a few ring up more than starter home money, they chiefly earn kudos from emotion over wallet. From the Rodney Dangerfield of Astons to a Lamborghini tractor, there's something for every readers' taste and pocketbook among the following 24 selections.
I'd like to thank Jakob Greisen, Nick Candee, Bill Warner, Verity Spencer, David Brynan, Mark Lizewskie and Gordon McCall for taking the time to share their choices.
Enjoy the ride—and I look forward to viewing your comments below!
- Eric Killorin
BILL WARNER - FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN OF THE AMELIA ISLAND CONCOURS
#1The Ferrari 250GT SWB was the best Ferrari of its day. Bonhams' 1962 250GT SWB comes with a long list of notable owners, a 100-point score at the FCA International and a class award at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours. Purposeful, beautifully sculptured, nimble and quick. In the hands of Stirling Moss a 250 SWB (Rob Walker’s) won the Tourist Trophy twice. Moss even listened to the race coverage on the car radio! It is a car, that in the day, could be driven to the track, raced and driven home and most likely won the race or at least its class. Estimate: $7-9M. UNSOLD $8.7M HI BID
#2RM-Sotheby's is featuring the third place Le Mans winning Ford GT40. It is the epitome of the Ford GT40 program with a big 427 NASCAR V-8 with tons of torque. Driven by Ronnie Bucknum and NASCAR driver, Dick Hutcherson and ran consistently. It is one of the controversial photo finish cars. It represents Fords revenge of Ferrari’s rebuke. It was an Anglo-American success. Wish I had one! Estimate: $9-12M. SOLD $9.8M
#3The 1935 Gary Cooper Duesenberg SSJ on offer at Goodings is the most important classic today. Exceptional provenance with ownership by Cooper, Briggs Cunningham, Miles Collier, J-563 packed 400 HP in a gorgeous envelope in 1935. It doesn’t get any better than this. Only thing missing is Carole Lombard….ooops, she would have been in the Gable car. Oh, well, can you imagine tooling up to the Beverly Hills Hotel to pick up your favorite starlet? I can! (Ed note: The two SSJs rode on shortened chassis set to 125" and differed slightly in fender lines, lamps and small coachwork details. The sister SSJ resides with a midwest collector.) Estimate: $10-20M. SOLD $22M
NICK CANDEE - AMOC HISTORIAN AND CO-AUTHOR ASTON MARTIN DB4GT
#1RM Sotheby’s lot #141 is the 1963 Aston Martin DP 215 and represents the zenith of British front engine GT cars, created at the end of the DB4 line, at the dawn of the cosmic shift to the mid-engine design. While not really a DB4GT but a new chassis, DP215 merited its own sub-chapter of eight pages in our book on the DB4GT. This is a car to enjoy, fast with wonderful road manners from all reports, and is just drop dead gorgeous. John Wyer told me in 1988 as we discussed DP214 and DP215 that “they were easy cars to build” but DB was giving up racing at the end of 1963, prompting Mr. Wyer to leave in September for the Ford GT40 project. His going away present? Roy Salvadori in DP214 beat five GTOs at Monza in September, with teammate Lucien Bianchi nursing the other D9214 to 3rd place, proving Astons could best GTOs on their home turf. (In Germany Peter Lindner beat GTOs at an ADAC Nurburgring event with his “regular” DB4GT, un-reported in the British press). Pro, well documented history. Con, big crash on the M1 led to rebody, so not “original” but restoration done with help from the creator, Ted Cutting. Estimate: $18-22M. SOLD $21.5M
#2 1962 Ferrari GTO, chassis #3413 GT is lot #247 at RM-Sotheby's and is simply fabulous. No need to rehash the storied history of this magnificent prancing horse as you have no doubt read it elsewhere. This ride is close to my heart as my dad was among the few owners of 1958 Ferrari 250 Test Rossa #0732... but that's another story. Last week, I was delighted to meet David MacNeil at Elkhart Lake. There, his DB4GT/0186/R Zagato was voted People's Choice in the street concours. David was also in the news recently with his purchase of GTO #4153GT for the princely sum of $70M. In hindsight, I might have have asked for his compare and contrast! Little known history: Giotto Bizzarrini in an interview by Griff Borgeson in Automobile Quarterly credited the DB4GT Zagato as the stimulus for Enzo Ferrari to move on from the SWB and create the GTO. Pro: well documented history. Con: oh so common, 36 built. Estimate: $45-60M. SOLD $48.4M
#3 The 1969 Aston Martin DBS Vantage #DBS/5362/R is lot # 5 at Bonhams and I reckon it will sell for around $175,000. This is not one of the superstars, but I think it will be a bellwether for nice collectible GTs that people can enjoy on tours and, indeed, as grande routiers. As a David Brown-era Aston with the last example of the Tad Marek 6-cylinder engine, this is a hand-build 2+2 that is fun to drive and—gasp—even comfy! While the chassis was widened for the coming V8, it is built with all the crafts of a DB4 or DB5 and is simply a pretty car with nice neutral handling. For the years the Rodney Dangerfield of Astons built at Newport Pagnell, owners do enjoy them. Even a French enthusiast has channeled his passion for the model and built a register of all the 6-cylinder DBS examples around the world. Pro: 5-speed with triple Webers. Con: heavy and no racing heritage. Estimate: $150-200,000. SOLD $154,000
VERITY SPENCER - Prewar Automotive Ace
#1I’m going to set aside for a moment the extremely impressive single-family ownership of this 1921 Stutz Series K Bearcat offered by Bonhams. This car is a true DRIVER, not an overheating parade prop. Having been properly maintained and loved, the car exemplifies how enjoyable a Prewar car can be. It shows a 1970s restoration which is holding up like a favorite leather jacket. The best part about buying this car? The new owner can say “I’m the 2nd owner.” Estimate: $250-300,000. SOLD $478,000
#2The 1952 Jaguar XK120 Fixed Head Coupe offered by Bonhams. I never understood the beauty of XK120 FHC until I detailed one. That long sweeping fender line blended into a curvy hardtop is truly a timeless design. This outstanding barn find example still looks tight. Bonnet, doors and grill fitment is better than some restored cars. And oh, that color! This Jag got my imagination running wild. Mexican blanket or frame off? This is the question to ask oneself before touching this time capsule. As the saying goes, it will only be original once. Estimate: $55-75,000. SOLD $50,400
#3In the eye of the muscle car storm there came a Toronado. Dare to be different? How about front wheel drive and concealed headlights. Detroit built this 425 cubic-inch V8 to do what it does best (drink dinosaurs of course). Offered by Mecum Auctions this 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado in Trumpet Gold is a Mid-Century dream. 50 years later the original advertising literature description still stands: “The only thing you can compare it with is another Toronado!“ Estimate: $17-25,000. SOLD $22,000
GORDON MCCALL - CEO McCall Events and founder Motorworks Revival
#11958 Lancia Aurelia B20 GT Series VI coupe Gone are the days of the "unloved" Lancia's, and herewith I name my first choice courtesy of Bonhams. Witnessed by many prominent collectors adding them to their collections, a B20 was even the subject of a very high profile "Outlaw" rendition. Stunning the motor racing world, a mildly race-developed B20 GT driven by chain-smoking, brandy-swigging Giovanni Bracco finished 2nd in the 1951 Mille Miglia, beaten only by Luigi Villoresi's 4.1-liter works Ferrari. It is worth noting that the nimble Aurelia was actually faster than the Ferrari over the mountain passes north of Florence. Sharing his Aurelia B20 GT with Umberto Maglioli, Bracco won the Targa Florio for Lancia in 1952 and in 1954 another B20 won the Monte Carlo Rally in the hands of the famous Monegasque driver Louis Chiron. A worthy consideration for say, half the price of a decent 356 Speedster, the Lancia B20 offers a ton of motoring history, innovation, and spirited driving. Estimate: $150-200,000. UNSOLD $120,000 HI BID
#2 V-12 powered American Classic, check. Custom coachwork by LeBaron, check. 1 of 12 built, check. Stunning color combination, check. 7 figure price tag, wait.....not checked?? This 1938 Lincoln Model K Coupe at Bonhams represents everything good about this magic time of the automobile in this country. For less than the price of a "driver" grade '60's E-Type Roadster, and all of the curb appeal and enjoyment of it's 12 cylinder counterparts that often trade in the 7-figure range, this iconic Lincoln ticks all the boxes. Estimate: $200-300,000. SOLD $201,600
#3Full disclosure.....I love vintage motorcycles, and know that I am not the only "car guy" that has spent a lifetime with them. Few manufacturers in the motorcycle arena resonate stronger than the name "Brough Superior." With that I name my third choice Gooding's 1931 Brough Superior SS80. In period, the Brough Superior was the most innovative and extraordinary motorcycle one could own. Appropriately coined “the Rolls-Royce of motorcycles,” meticulous attention to construction meant low production and exceptional quality. Each Brough was assembled twice, once to assure proper fit, and a second time to ensure the components had been suitably finished. Each bike was then tested; the SS80 ran at 80 mph prior to delivery at a time when England’s national speed limit was 20 mph. In the motorcycle collecting circles in general, one could hardly find provenance stronger than Steve McQueen and Von Dutch. I suppose the only name missing from this SS80 is Lawrence of Arabia, but that's OK. For about the same price as a 2003 Porsche 996 GT2, one has the opportunity here to own what is arguably one of the most importantly names in the collecting community. Estimate $175-200,000. SOLD $88,000
DAVID BRYNAN - Senior Specialist Gooding & Co
#1I love early Ferrari competition cars and the Ferrari 166 MM/195 S Berlinetta Le Mans is really the first in a long line of successful twelve-cylinder Berlinettas. It has a beautiful small displacement, three-carb V-12 and a fabulous aluminum fastback body by the Carrozzeria Touring. It was unveiled at the 1950 Paris Auto Show and then sold to Briggs Cunningham. He raced it at Sebring, Buenos Aires, Watkins Glen and it was originally finished in this beautiful blue livery. These early Ferraris are a tremendous value compared to the later production cars from the 250 series. Estimate $6.5-7.5M. UNSOLD $5.5M HI BID
#2The Maserati A6GCS/53 Frua Spider has to be one of the most beautiful, elegant sports cars of all time. It's perfectly proportioned and has marvelous details. Not only is it great aesthetically, it has one of the very best chassis—the A6GCS/53, which is arguably the best all around sports cars of the era and certainly one of the great Maserati models. The engine is a gorgeous twin-cam inline six, with three Weber 40 carbs, and its has other wonderful details, from the outside-lace Borrani wire wheels to its large finned aluminum brakes. This car is a true work of automotive art. Estimate $5.5-6.5M. SOLD $5.2M
#3My third pick is yet another 1950s sports car—the 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder. This is a very special example of this iconic model in that it is unusually original. It was raced in California by its first owner, Eldon Beagle, and took part in classic events like the Pebble Beach Road Races. This car is presented in its original racing livery and is especially well documented—with its original Bill of Sale from Competition Motors, and a wonderful collection of original photos and film footage from the period. Like the Ferrari and Maserati, it is a thoroughbred sports racing car that can be enjoyed on the road. Estimate $4-5M. SOLD $4.5M
MARK LIZEWSKIE - Rolls-Royce Owners' Club Executive Director
#1In Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club jargon, a Bentley or Rolls-Royce is often referred to as a "Proper Motor Car." RM Sotheby’s has perhaps one of the finest Proper Motor Cars, the 1933 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental Fixed Head Coupe by Gurney Nutting (Lot #143). A short-wheelbase Phantom II Continental is highly desirable to begin with, but then add stunning Gurney Nutting coachwork and we really bring it up a notch or two. This car carries a bespoke Fixed Head design and has known provenance since new. Every aspect of this car is appealing to me, and I’ve been following it for years. It is to me the ultimate PMC! Estimate $1.4-1.8M. UNSOLD $1.2M HI BID
#2I’ve always been drawn to the unique quirkiness of Citroens, and this year’s Monterey week has a great number from which to choose. The Robert Opron- designed 1972 Citroen SM spaceship on offer from Bonhams (Lot #132) would be my personal choice to bring home. This example wears a great color, and has the 5-speed and all the cool features one expects from an SM. When they debuted, these cars were so futuristic and my teenage mind exploded! I’ve wanted one ever since. Estimate $60-80,000. SOLD $95,200
#3The 1964 Lamborghini 2R diesel tractor at Mecum (Lot #S7) is begging for me to take it home. This isn’t some freshly restored show tractor; it is an unapologetic workhorse wearing its battle scars. Don’t insult it by using the word patina—it earned every scrape. I’d lace up a pair of Zamberlan work boots and put it to work, listening to the diesel engine chug away through that fishtail exhaust, and fantasize about playing in my vineyard in Tuscany. Or perhaps affix a red triangle to the back and drive it down to Cars & Coffee! Estimate $40-50,000. SOLD $7,875
JAKOB GREISEN - HEAD U.S. MOTORING DEPARTMENT AT BONHAMS
#1This 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione has the three ingredients in spades of what makes a car collectible in my opinion: history, aesthetics and engineering. Exceptional period competition history, stunning Italian Berlinetta design and lovely DOHC all-alloy racing prepared motor and mechanicals. Estimate: $3-3.5M. SOLD $3.5M
#2There are many 300SLs out there, but this 1955 Mercedes 300SL Gullwing is special. Two owners from new (one owner since 1967), largely original paint, original interior and Rudge wheels from factory. The patina on this original car is incredible and makes it truly unique. Estimate: $1.2-1.5M. SOLD $1.9M