Columns (1924)

Priced Fresh Daily

Written by November 2014
At the highest level of the U.S.-based catalog-sale collector car auctions, Gooding & Company and RM Auctions are the major players, with Bonhams now a hard-charging, fast-rising contender. All three of these companies are now going toe-to-toe in Monterey, Scottsdale and Amelia Island. There will be no shortage of high-dollar fireworks as billionaires compete for delectable multi-million dollar collectibles. That’s not to say that there aren’t other important, high-end players including Barrett-Jackson, Auctions America, Mecum, Russo and Steele, and Worldwide — and the first-time-effort of Rick Cole in Monterey deserves a nod. But during Monterey Classic Car Week, all eyes…
Earlier this year, Portland, OR, residents Rick and Jackie White were stunned to find a very technically worded legal notice in their mail. A lien service company was informing them that a local towing company was auctioning off their 1970 ’Cuda to satisfy its unpaid storage bill. They weren’t stunned because of the substantial unpaid bill. They were stunned because the Hemi ’Cuda had been stolen in 2001, and they had given up on ever finding it. Rick White ordered the ’Cuda new in 1970 when he lived in California. It had a 440 Six Pack, 4-speed, 4.10 Dana rear…
No way. That’s not possible. That makes zero sense. Oh come on — really?” Welcome to the calliope of incredulity running around inside my otherwise-seasoned noggin during Monterey Auction Week. The madness that prevailed in the market for cars that sold in the perceived “lower end of the offerings” was more eye-watering than the prices achieved by the Violati Ferraris sold at Bonhams. Listen, from where I was sitting, I watched three patterns unfold while $464 million and 822 cars were redistributed among buyers and sellers: First, there is not an unlimited supply of billionaires who need or want Ferrari…
The ultra-rare Alfa Romeo 1900 C SS combined the short chassis with a racing-specification engine, gearbox, and revised final-drive ratios — plus air-cooled “Alfin” self-adjusting brakes. The excellent 5-speed manual gearbox featured synchronized second, third and fourth gears, with carefully selected ratios matching the power curve of the twin-cam Tipo 1308 engine. The 1900 series basked in competition success and particularly that of the 1900 C SS, with racing credentials earned at the major races and rallies of the era, including the Targa Florio, Stella Alpina and Mille Miglia. While over 21,000 1900-series cars were built among many variations, only…

1972 McLaren M20 Can-Am

Written by November 2014
After several years dominating the Can-Am series with a series of school-bus-yellow racers, McLaren Cars stood up to the developing Porsche challenge with the brand-new 1972 M20. Designers Gordon Coppuck and Tyler Alexander departed from standard McLaren practice in the M20 by removing the radiator from the front of the car and replacing it with two side-mounted units. This allowed improved cooling, relief from cockpit heat for drivers Denis Hulme and Peter Revson, and improved front-end aerodynamics. The latter was achieved by opening the space between the front fenders and installing an adjustable wing for improved downforce. Peter Revson raced…
Following the 953’s decisive win at the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally in 1984, Porsche’s chief engineer Helmuth Bott declared his ambition to build a “Super Porsche” — a turbocharged 911 variant with all-wheel drive and variable ride height. Over the next three years, Porsche developed a groundbreaking sports car to comply with the FIA’s Group B regulations, which capped the engine capacity of turbocharged cars at 2.85 liters and required 200 production cars for homologation purposes. The result of Porsche’s significant effort was the 959 — arguably the most technically advanced and influential high-performance automobile built during the 1980s. Equipped with…
The Ferrari 250 GT Omologato needs little introduction as the most iconic, most habitable, street-useable, race-winning, World Championship-winning — and simply gorgeous — closed two-seat coupe car from the world-famous Maranello factory. The GTO was developed to contest the 1962 3-liter class FIA GT World Championship series of classical endurance-racing events. Selective production at Maranello and in the Scaglietti body plant in Modena ran on through the 1963 FIA GT World Championship and — sure enough — the Ferrari 250 GTO won the World title both seasons in succession. Ferrari 250 GTO chassis 3851GT offered here was acquired by young…
Chassis number GT108 is one of just six open-top GT40 roadsters constructed, reflecting Ford’s experimentation with the open configuration to test for market appeal and salability. Built for Shelby American as a test and development vehicle, it was driven by Ken Miles, Lew Spencer, Carroll Shelby, Jim Clark and others. Documented by GT40 historian Ronnie Spain, it is the only GT40 roadster to have survived in its original form. This car was also a 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance award winner and has enjoyed single prominent ownership for over two decades. GT108 is notable as one of the 12 early…

Tucker vs. Tucker

Written by November 2014
Chassis 1036 (RM Auctions) A factory report dated October 28, 1948, held in the Tucker archives at the Gilmore Car Museum, indicates that chassis number 1036 had been completed on October 20, with body number 33 and engine number 33585. It was one of a dozen cars painted Maroon (paint code 600). No transmission was listed, as it is believed that this was one of more than a dozen Tuckers that remained unfinished and were waiting for transmissions when the factory closed. This is confirmed by the final factory inventory, dated March 3, 1949, which shows the car being in…
  Is it fair to say that we love our cars? Over time, we develop relationships with them based on the things we have done with them — from changing spark plugs to repairing upholstery to going on tours and rallies. In a way, a favorite car is like a faithful Labrador retriever. It sits and waits for us, and when we turn the key, it jumps to its wheels and wags its exhaust pipes. Our favorite cars exist to be our companions in adventure. But a relationship with a pet comes to a natural end. Dogs and cats age…
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