• This Month's Issue

    Level Flier: At $220k, This Fighter-Plane-Inspired '09 Spyker Lands Close to Its Original MSRP

    $575k 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk I

    Viva l'Italia! In the Driver's Seat at Villa d'Este, the Mille Miglia and Modena Cento Ore

    Fast-Rising Collectible: "The Fast and the Furious" '93 Supra Stunt Car Hurtles to $200k

    Slow-Rising Collectible: Karmann Ghias Gain Ground

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  • SCM Platinum

    Over 200 cars that sold at auction covered in every issue of SCM. Our market reports include detailed information about the vehicle, including VIN, condition, options, and expert analysis from SCM's auction reporters.

    SCM Platinum is the largest database of collector cars sold at auction. Over 150,000 vehicles, including over 59,000 with detailed write-ups from our auction reporters.

    Now optimized for your mobile devices!

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  • Glovebox Notes

    SCM doesn't just cover collector cars. Every week, SCM reviews a brand new car online and in our newsletters, and there are new reviews every month in the magazine. Thinking of buying a new car? Check out our reviews!

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  • Insider’s Guide to Concours d’Elegance

    The 2014 guide includes a calendar of events and detailed descriptions of 21 featured concours.

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Recent Blog Posts

  • Bidding and Touring With One Good Arm +

    Mitch Silver was ready for me last Saturday at the Portland Expo Center. I asked if I could have a left-arm bidder's paddle, and he said yes. Tuesday I'd had rotator-cuff surgery, and my right arm was in a sling. That wasn't going to stop me from seeing if the Read More
  • Not Having a Good Day +

    (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));He got fired later that dayMore videos? LIKE >> ZOO WeeklyPosted by ZOO Weekly on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 Read More
  • Two Alfas in the Shop, Four in the Garage – SCM Fleet Update +

    Fall is here. It's time to start shuffling the SCM cars around, putting the convertibles away for the winter and making sure the coupes and sedans are ready to go. Here's a quick look at the status of the cars in the SCM fleet: The 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider Veloce (pictured Read More
  • This Swiss Hillclimb Video is Two Minutes of Motorsport Bliss +

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  • Hitting Its Stride – The 2015 Pacific Northwest Concours +

    There's something magical that happens when a performance comes together. It doesn't matter whether it's a brilliant performance of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth, a breath-taking rendition of Puccini's "Un bel di, vedremo" from "Madame Butterfly" or an explosive presentation of "Rocka My Soul" from Alvin Ailey's "Revelations." With Read More
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Collector Car News

  • Bonhams' Frederiksen Collection Sale Totals $21m +

    Bonhams' September 26 Frederiksen Collection sale in Denmark was the country's highest-grossing auction ever. Sales totaled $21.1m, and 43 of 49 cars sold (88%). At $2.7m, 1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Roadster was the most valuable car ever sold at auction in Denmark. View the results here. Read More
  • Barrett-Jackson Announces New Northeast Auction at Mohegan Sun +

    Barrett-Jackson will host a new auction in the Northeastern United States at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, June 23-25, 2016. Mohegan Sun, one of the most spectacular entertainment, gaming, dining and shopping destinations in North America, will host the three-day collector car auction and lifestyle event for visitors from around Read More
  • Come See Us at Silver Portland +

    Silver returns to the Rose City this weekend for their twice-annual Portland sale. Stop by, check out the cool collectibles and pick up free copies of SCM and ACC. View the consignment list here. And if you see someone wearing an SCM hat, don't hesitate to introduce yourself.   Read More
  • Brass Era Trifecta Joins "Preserving the Automobile" Sale +

      Known as the "Preserving the Automobile" auction, Bonhams' October 5 sale in Philadelphia focuses on authentic, historically accurate and unrestored motorcars. Headliners include three pre-Great War automobiles from America and Great Britain: a 1907 Stearns 60hp tourer (Bonhams estimate: $650k–$850k); a 1908 Rainer Model D 45/50hp tourer ($250k–$350k); and a Read More
  • 1933 Maybach DS-8 Zeppelin Cabriolet to Sell at Bonhams' Frederiksen Auction +

    Star cars at Bonhams' September 26 Frederiksen Auction include a 1933 Maybach DS-8 Zeppelin Cabriolet (Bonhams estimate: $3m–$3.6m), a 1914 Mercedes 28/95 Phaeton ($1.5m–$2m) and a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster ($980k–$1.4m). The sale takes place in Ebeltoft, Denmark. View all the cars here. Read More
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I fired her up on the lawn, and to my surprise the most enthusiastic onlooker was an unfortunate chap whose entire picnic I had blown away

1931 rolls royce phantom ii merlin special

Chassis 64GX left Crewe as a standard Phantom II saloon, but in the late 1970s, Rolls-Royce collector Nicholas Harley of London decided to create a showcase of British engineering might. The restoration that ensued spanned approximately seven years, during which time the Phantom II frame was lengthened, reinforced and fitted with this lovely Gurney Nutting-inspired body constructed by Wilkinson's of Derby, and a 27-liter Mk I Merlin V12 engine was fitted, fed by two fuel pumps delivering 100 gallons per hour.

Upon completion, the aero-powered Phantom II was tested at Donington Park, where is was pitted against a 1958 Vanwall Grand Prix car-amazingly, the Rolls-Royce out-accelerated the racing car. In the 1990s, the Rolls-Royce made its way Stateside and, in 2000, it was sold to a well-known Florida collector.

In 2007, this car was acquired by its current owner, who has since embarked upon a mechanical overhaul. When the car was first constructed, the tremendous torque and power caused transmission and clutch issues, so during the mechanical overhaul, the transmission was converted to a Jaguar unit with high-strength gears. In addition, the Merlin engine was tested and tuned.

In 2008, following its meticulous rebuild, the Rolls-Royce was invited to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it was displayed alongside a number of 20-plus-liter automobiles, earning the Rolls-Royce a class award. The Merlin remains in exceptional condition. Beyond its remarkable engine bay, one of the most evocative aspects of this car is its overwhelming instrument panel, which would not look out of place in a Spitfire airplane.

Unlike other examples of aero-engined automobiles, this Rolls-Royce stands apart in its impressive presentation and loyalty to original details. This Merlin-powered Phantom II is ready to draw crowds wherever it goes, and its new owner should be capable of experiencing the unbelievable feeling of piloting a WWII-era fighter plane down the road.

{analysis}{auto}1429{/auto} This car sold for $451,000, including buyer's premium, at Gooding's Scottsdale Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, on January 22, 2010.

With its Spitfire motor and a host of auction appearances under its belt, it's tempting to call this car a frequent flier. Christie's sold it at Beaulieu back in July 1969 for $13,956 as a normal saloon (SCM #7326). RM sold it post-Merlin transplant at Monterey in '99 for $605,000 (SCM# 22226) and again in Florida at its Al Wiseman Collection auction in 2007, this time for $412,500 (SCM# 47743).

Young oligarchs and sheikhs cruising the boulevards of Moscow and Dubai in their bling'd-up Veyrons may think they have a monopoly on 1,000 horsepower, but younger kids in a rather more demanding profession-RAF pilots-took it for granted 70 years ago. Often they were piloting one of history's great fighter aircraft, no fewer than 27 liters of Rolls-Royce Merlin engine stretching out past the gunsight in front of them and anything up to 2,000 horsepower at their bidding.

England, home of the eccentric

In fact, the Merlin didn't just power Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancaster bombers, it saw service in MTBs (motor torpedo boats) and tanks. So successful was the Merlin that 149,659 units were built, some 37,000 under license by Packard in the U.S. Lord Tedder, Marshal of the RAF and the man charged with development of aircraft during the Battle of Britain, attributed victory to "three predominant factors: the skill and bravery of the pilots, 100-octane fuel and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine."

It's debatable, however, whether even the most inventive boffin would have thought of a Merlin as suitable power for a motor car. Thankfully, England is the home of the eccentric ("Mad Dogs and Englishmen," as Noel Coward noted), and one man did.

The catalog credits veteran English dealer Nick Harley-the man who bid $10 million for the Bugatti Royale at auction in 1987 and now enjoys life in his fortress-like retreat on the Côte d'Azur-with the creation of this "special-to-trump-all-specials." However, a quick call to Harley reveals there's more to the story.

"In the early 1980s, I used to do business with the late Stephen Langton, sadly killed racing at Brands Hatch. Stephen was a quick driver of the 'keep the foot firmly on the loud pedal and sort out the rest with the steering wheel' method. In fact, that's pretty well how he lived his life. On one visit, I was particularly smitten by a tow car he was building to trail his Lister to meetings. This device consisted of a Rolls Phantom II Continental chassis stripped and fitted with a Merlin aero engine at one end and a ball hitch at the other. The bits in between he was sorting out as he went along, Langton style. The ball hitch was clearly part of a farm gate. Alas, it was not to be, and in 1987 I phoned Stephen's widow Liz and bought the project."

It would take an hour to list the engineering solutions

It took eight years and involved re-designing almost everything. "It would take an hour to list the engineering solutions," Harley recalls, "but we did everything to Rolls-Royce standards and no detail was overlooked." The chassis didn't need lengthening and the Merlin engine, he says, was a 1938-vintage Mk 3, not the less reliable Mk 1 as cataloged. "Ferrari restorer Terry Hoyle had an old boy working for him who'd served in the aero department at Rolls, and he rebuilt the engine. We tested it on Terry's dyno and it peaked at 1,200 hp with 1,350 ft-lb torque at 2,800 rpm. Terry still complains about his broken dyno."

"When we first fired the engine up in the car, we'd put the plug leads on the wrong way. The resulting explosion blew the exhaust system straight out the garage doors." Plug leads re-ordered and much perseverance later, the aero-engined behemoth was developed into a car which actually worked. Harley took it on various tours before completing a road trip from New England to Amelia Island. At three miles per gallon (the trunk conceals a 55-gallon fuel tank), America and the Middle East are probably the only places someone could afford to run it. "At the concours, by popular request, I fired her up on the lawn to a huge round of applause. To my surprise the most enthusiastic onlooker was an unfortunate chap whose entire picnic I had blown away with the initial exhaust blast."

So was it a good deal at $451k? The concept of "specials" as we Brits call them is not dissimilar to the U.S. hot rodding tradition, and both are now accepted in collecting circles-as proven by this car's invitation to Pebble Beach. Usability is increasingly important in determining the appeal of a classic car, but again, while the Spitfire start-up routine might intimidate the novice collector (prime Ki-Gas on dash; petrol into manifold; hand-crank dash mag; expect a cloud of black smoke as it fires), it has at least shown it can be driven. Harley reports lapping Milbrook consistently at 120 mph, and the Vanwall story is true, by the way...

The seller, a prominent Texas collection, was making room for recent acquisitions-their new Porsche 550 Spyder would probably fit under the hood of the Rolls-Royce. The buyer, a young collector with a passion for cars and aircraft, had looked at it before and this time took the plunge. David Gooding told me this was the nicest aero-engined car he'd seen, and even though the price was 14% more than the car sold for at Tarpon Springs in 2007, I'd call it well bought.{/analysis}

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