1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster

Pawel Litwinski, courtesy of Bonhams

In 1949, this exceptional Auburn Boattail Speedster was discovered in an old garage in Omaha, NE. The Auburn required some refurbishing, so a restoration was undertaken in 1951, and it was decided to restore the car as a 1936 852, perhaps in an attempt to make the already rare Speedster seem even more desirable, as 852s are extremely scarce. The Auburn was parked in the garage during the summer of 1962, and didn’t move from that spot for 52 years, Read More

Cranking Up the Collector World

I love the way the collector-car year launches. Arizona in January is like Mardi Gras, with cars to be auctioned replacing floats. The procession of delectable automobiles is non-stop, with the six big auctions pulling out all the stops.

For me, the action started earlier this year than usual. It included a quick trip to London for a dinner at Bonhams’ new headquarters at 101 New Bond Street — a most tony address, in a most tony part of a Read More

1960 Lotus Elite Series II

Pawel Litwinski, courtesy of Bonhams

With the Lotus 14 of 1959 — better known as the Elite — Colin Chapman demonstrated that his skills as a racing-car designer and constructor could just as easily be applied to production road cars.

Just as innovative as Lotus’s outright competition cars, the Elite featured a fiberglass monocoque body tub, independent suspension all round (based on that of Lotus’ racing monopostos) and four-wheel disc brakes, the rears mounted inboard. Its engine was the 4-cylinder Coventry Climax FWE, a single-overhead-cam Read More

High Prices, High Taxes

The 2014 Scottsdale auctions showed that many collectors are taking advantage of the hot market and selling cars for record prices. But many of those collectors are also learning that we are in an era of high income tax rates.

So, how can collectors minimize the tax costs?

Basic tax principles

Let’s start with some basic principles. The gain on the sale of your collector car is the difference between your net sales price and your income tax basis.

Your Read More

1961 Alfa Romeo SZ-1 Coupe

Simon Clay, courtesy of Bonhams

Alfa Romeo’s successful Giulietta range debuted in 1954 with the arrival of the Bertone-styled Sprint coupe, the Berlina (saloon) not appearing until the succeeding season. Veloce models with improved performance followed, and the agile Giulietta SV quickly established an enviable record in production-car racing, notable victories including a Gran Turismo class win in the 1956 Mille Miglia. Nevertheless, to fully exploit the car’s potential, lighter and more aerodynamic bodywork was deemed necessary — a requirement which resulted in the ultimate Read More

1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL

Dirk de Jager, courtesy of Bonhams

Introduced at the Geneva Salon in March 1963 as replacement for the 190SL, the 230SL is a landmark model that founded a sports-car dynasty that would prove an enormous commercial success for Mercedes-Benz.

Soon christened by the public the “Pagoda” after the distinctive shape of the removable hard top that evoked the roof of a Japanese temple, these SL models were among the best-loved sports-tourers of their day and continue to be highly sought after by discerning collectors.

This matching-numbers Read More

1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II by Pininfarina

Michael Furman ©2013, courtesy of RM Auctions

The 250 series was Ferrari’s crowning achievement of the 1950s and early 1960s. The high-water marks of this series have defined the “Prancing Horse” in the decades since, and in many ways, the series set the stylistic and cultural tone, which has grown exponentially model after model.

From the lovely Lusso and the sporty California Spyder, to the Tour de France and, of course, the Series II Cabriolet, the basic construction formula was nothing short of perfect: a high-revving V12 Read More

1964 Facel Vega II Coupe

Simon Clay, courtesy of Bonhams

In its relatively short life, the French firm of Facel produced approximately 2,900 cars, all of which were stylish, luxurious and fast. Hand built, they were, of course, necessarily very expensive — the Facel II was priced in Rolls-Royce territory — and were bought by the rich and famous seeking something exclusive and distinctive. The roll call of owners includes royalty, politicians, diplomats and entertainers: Tony Curtis, Danny Kaye, Joan Fontaine, Ava Gardner and Ringo Starr — the first owner Read More

1964 Chevrolet CERV II

Michael Furman ©2013, courtesy of RM Auctions

The brainchild of Zora Arkus-Duntov, the “Father of the Corvette,” the Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle II is the first known operating example of torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, and it is among the most important Corvette development vehicles in private hands today. Since leaving General Motors, it has only been owned by the Briggs Cunningham Museum, Miles Collier, John Moores and the consigning owner.

The first CERV was completed in 1960, and it was aimed at open-wheel racing. Duntov began work on Read More

A Collector-Car Catechism

At times, the SCM offices resemble an automotive confessional. Emails, texts, Facebook postings, faxes and sometimes even old-school, hand-written letters flood in — each missive asking for collector-car absolution or permission.

“Dear SCM, please forgive me as I have sinned and bought a car over the Internet without seeing it in person… again.”

“Keith, I am offered a great deal on a Ferrari. It’s a 308 GT4, friends tell me they are the last undervalued Ferrari, and they’re sure to Read More