New York – Christie’s International Motor Cars is delighted to announce the sale of the Sergio Franchi Collection during its Exceptional Motor Cars at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance auction, to be held at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Connecticut on June 4.
The Collection will provide the major highlight of an auction that features over 40 cars. The entire sale is expected to fetch in excess of $3.5 million, with the nine-car Franchi Collection estimated to realize in the region of $1.4 million. The Collection includes a 1930 Isotta Fraschini 8AS Boattail Convertible, a 1925 Mercedes 24/100/140, and a 1927 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I.
Sergio Franchi (1926-1990)
Sergio Franchi was one of the greatest romantic, popular tenors of the 20th century. A handsome and charismatic nightclub, Broadway and opera performer, Franchi was a regular star on the Ed Sullivan show and sung regularly in Las Vegas and at the Coconut Grove in Los Angeles at the height of his career.
Born in Cremona, Italy and performing by the age of 10, Franchi moved to South Africa with his parents in 1952 where he made his operatic debut. Eventually returning to his native Italy, he branched into concert appearances and performed on British television in 1962 at the London Palladium. Discovered by an RCA agent, he was booked for his first US tour.
After a debut concert at Carnegie Hall, Franchi quickly established himself as ‘The Brilliant New Tenor From Italy’ and became an overnight sensation. Appearing regularly on television and singing at the most prestigious US clubs, he sold out shows across the nation for many years and became an American citizen in 1972.
He succumbed to cancer in 1990. Franchi had been an ardent supporter of the arts and Italian cultural organizations and was posthumously awarded the title of Cavaliere by the Italian government in 2001.
An active member of the Classic Car Club of America and a frequent participant in the CCCA Caravans, Sergio Franchi was a passionate automobile collector and searched for cars that had great beauty, rarity and historical importance. Collection highlights include:
1930 Isotta Fraschini 8AS Boattail Convertible, coachwork by Castagna
In the early 20th century world of Italian cars, what Alfa Romeo was to racing, Isotta Fraschini was to luxury. Very popular in the US market, the marque was only outsold by Rolls-Royce among foreign marques although they were wildly expensive. Some notable Isotta Fraschini owners included King Faisal, the Queen of Romania, the Aga Khan, Pope Pius XI and William Randolph Hearst.
Castagna bodies are regarded as the most impressive to ride on the chassis and this example exemplifies Franchi’s collecting attitude: an important and rare car, with a superb pedigree and with an artistic flair matched in its technical excellence. Franchi showed this car at The Pebble Beach Concours and drove it on the 1986 CCCA Caravan to Mount Hood.
1925 Mercedes 24/100/140, coachwork by Murphy
The Mercedes 24/100/140 was the fastest tourer in the world when it was introduced and in 1925 won over 35 races.
This car is a true time capsule ‘barn find’, discovered by Franchi in Burbank, California – and is one of only two cars on this chassis to carry Murphy coachwork, the coachbuilder of choice for Hollywood’s stars. With a striking all-aluminum torpedo body, the car comes with every original instrument and piece of trim still intact – and is a superb candidate for an internationally acclaimed concours-winning restoration.
1927 Rolls-Royce Springfield Phantom I, coachwork by Brewster
This handsome and sporty Phantom was the first classic car Sergio Franchi ever-restored (back in the late 1960s). It always attracted attention whenever it was driven, and when shown almost always captured the ‘People’s Choice’ award.
The Phantom was introduced in 1925 to replace the successful Silver Ghost, with American production beginning a year later in Springfield, Massachusetts. The car enjoyed good sales during the last years of the Roaring Twenties, with about 300 delivered in 1927 and 1928.
1955 Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith Touring Limousine, coachwork by Chapron
This Silver Wraith is almost certainly unique, thanks to dashing coachwork by Chapron of Paris. Sergio Franchi located the car in Florida while on vacation and instantly fell in love with it.
Auction: Exceptional Motor Cars at the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance
June 4, 2006 at 12 noon
Viewing: Greenwich Concours d’Elegance
Roger Sherman Baldwin Park
June 2 – June 4
Christie’s is the longest continuous name in the collectors’ car market, having held auctions devoted solely to motor cars since 1972. Christie’s remains the choice of the individual who wishes to sell a unique and rare motor car or collection. Uniquely placed in the market, Christie’s International Motor Cars concentrates on quality rather than quantity. The Department consists of eight specialists based in London, Brussels, New York, Texas and California, devoted to a wide network of sale sites that stretch from Monterey to Paris and include regular auctions in London, Paris, Le Mans, Monterey and Connecticut.
Additional information about the Greenwich Concours is available at 203-618-0460 or www.greenwichconcours.com