All posts by Bob Golfen

Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle.He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs.A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

Auctions America hits $17.5 million at California sale

The 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster rolls over the block at the California auction | Auctions America
The 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster rolls over the block at the California auction | Auctions America

Blue-chip collector cars led the bidding at Auction America’s second-annual Los Angeles sale, an event that generated $17.5 million in sales for its wide-ranging selection of cars and automobilia.

Leading the charge was a gorgeously restored 1960 Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster that hit $1,155,000, followed by a lovely 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa that went for $1,017,500 (all sales results include buyer fees).

The 2014 results for the California sale last weekend was a tick higher than last year’s inaugural event, which resulted in a $17.2 million sale. The sell-through rate was off this year compared with 2013, though, when 83 percent of the cars sold. This year, 254 cars out of 400 offered went to new owners, for a 63.5 percent sales rate.

Other top sales included:

  • 1990 Ferrari F40, formerly owned by rock star Rod Stewart, $990,000
  • 1966 Shelby 427 Cobra, $962,500
  • 1966 Ferrari 330 GTC, $759,000
A 1959 Studebaker Silver Hawk sold for a bargain $13,750 | Auctions America
A 1959 Studebaker Silver Hawk sold for a bargain $13,750 | Auctions America

Several late-model exotics hit high numbers, such as the 2005 Ford GT that sold for $275,000 and a 2004 Porsche Carrera GT for $385,000. Other notable sales included a 1969 DeTomaso Mangusta that rang the bell at $214,500 and a rare V12 engine from a Ferrari 333 SP, which commanded a strong $310,500.

The California sale presented a highly diverse selection of collector cars, from entry-level vintage cars, sports cars and micro cars – some of which sold for modest four-figure prices – to top-drawer classics and performance cars. According to Auctions America, the offerings were selected with an eye toward the California lifestyle and interests and designed to appeal to a wide range of potential buyers.

“The success of our second California Sale is a tribute to the enthusiasm in the Los Angeles-area collector-car community,” said Ian Kelleher, managing director of auctions for Auction America’s West Coast Division. “This sale offers California enthusiasts the opportunity to purchase anything from a late-model sports car to a seven-figure concours-quality classic without having to travel out of town. Last year’s results were unprecedented, and this year surpassed our expectations.”

Concorso Italiano changes day and venue, features display of modern Zagato creations

The Alfa-Romeo TZ3 Stradale will be among the modern Zagato creations at Concorso Italiano | Zagato
The Alfa-Romeo TZ3 Stradale will be among the modern Zagato show cars at Concorso Italiano | Zagato

Concorso Italiano, the sweeping celebration of Italian motoring, returns to its original location at the Black Horse Golf Course in Seaside, California, on August 16 during Monterey Car Week.

The biggest change, though, is Concorso’s move from its traditional Friday position during the crowded docket of Monterey happenings to Saturday, when there are fewer competing events, according to the organizers. For example, the Quail Motorsports Gathering is held annually on Friday.

The 29th annual Italian car and lifestyle festival, considered to be the largest assemblage of exotic Italian cars in the world, took place for the past five years at Laguna Seca Golf Ranch but returns to where it was held from 2003-2007. Some 800-1,000 cars are expected, ranging from vintage classics to modern exotics.

 The Lamborghini 5-95 Zagato will have its first U.S. showing | Zagato

The Lamborghini 5-95 Zagato will have its first U.S. showing | Zagato

Special features for this year’s Concorso focus on the 100th anniversary of Maserati, the 60th anniversary of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and a special exhibition of automotive design by Zagato Atelier of Milan as it marks its 95th year The Zagato display will include a grouping of Zagato Atelier Contemporary Collectibles, eight exotic concepts that will be shown together for the first time ever. The show cars were created in recent years by Andrea and Marella Zagato, representing the third generation of the design company. Andrea Zagato and other Zagato representatives are expected to attend Concorso.

The Zagato collection will include a recently created Lamborghini 5-95 Zagato that has never been shown in the U.S. The Lamborghini was flown straight from the factory in Rho, Italy, to be delivered to its American owner, and it will serve as the centerpiece of the display, shown along with Zagato Alfa Romeos, Ferraris and Aston Martins. Another focal point will be the Zagato-designed Alfa-Romeo TZ3 Stradale.

“We are honored to have these stunning modern day Zagatos as part of Concorso Italiano’s 95th Anniversary Zagato celebration,” said Tom McDowell, Concorso Italiano president. “This is the first time these contemporary cars have ever been seen together in a grouping, creating a display that is sure to impress car fans of all ages.”

Enter to win two free tickets to Concorso Italiano 2014 in a competition hosted by ClassicCars.com. Click here for details: Concorso Contest.

Riverside automobile museum celebrates Maserati’s 100th year with expert guest

A lineup of Maseratis face other classic cars in the Riverside auto museum | Riverside International Automobile
A lineup of Maseratis face other classics in the Riverside museum | Riverside International Automobile Museum

The Riverside International Automotive Museum celebrates the 100th anniversary of Maserati with a special reception and dinner for Adolfo Orsi Jr., one of the foremost authorities on the history of the famed Italian marque.

Orsi, whose family owned Maserati from 1937 to 1968, will present an in-depth look at the century-old company that built some of the world’s most-iconic race cars and sports cars.

A number of Maseratis from the museum’s collection will be on display during the dinner and reception.  The Riverside collection houses 25 examples of Maseratis dating to 1946.

The event takes place Saturday, August 9, with the reception at 6 pm and dinner at 7 pm. Cost is $75 per person.

For more information, see riversideinternational.org.

Custom ’57 Chevy pickup wins Barrett-Jackson Cup

 The 1957 Chevy pickup, winner of the Barrett-Jackson Cup, took five years to build | Barrett-Jackson

The 1957 Chevy pickup, winner of the Barrett-Jackson Cup, took five years to build | Barrett-Jackson

The sleekest custom pickup truck in the known universe was declared the Ultimate Best in Show Winner on Saturday of the Barrett-Jackson Cup competition in Reno, Nevada, taking home more than $43,000 in cash and prizes.

The 1957 Chevrolet pickup, the result of a five-year build by Jason and Jim Smith of the Hot Rod Garage in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, was presented with the award during Barrett-Jackson’s second annual Hot August Nights auction at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.

First Runner-up: 1932 Ford Four Door |Barrett-Jackson
First Runner-up: 1932 Ford Four Door |Barrett-Jackson

The Barrett-Jackson Cup, also in its second year, is designed as a top-drawer, professionally judged competition of the best-of-the-best custom cars and trucks. The winning Chevy pickup is testament to the high level of the entries: It was the 2013 Goodguys Truck of the Year Late (1953-1972) and a 2013 “Great 8 Truck” at the Detroit Autorama.

“The quality of workmanship of the cars in this year’s Barrett-Jackson Cup competition was unbelievable,” said Pete Chapouris, one of the Barrett-Jackson Cup judges and president of So-Cal Speed Shop. “Selecting the final five cars was immensely difficult.

“The competition was fierce and I expect it will only become more competitive as the Cup grows in popularity. We’re already hearing about people building cars specifically for this competition.”

More than $100,000 in cash and automotive products was offered for the top five winners of the Cup.

Second Runner-up: 1934 Chevrolet Phaeton
Second Runner-up: 1934 Chevrolet Phaeton | Barrett-Jackson

The Cup is integrated into the annual Hot August Nights car shows in downtown Reno, part of the sweeping five-day nostalgia festival of streets rods, muscle cars, custom cars and rock ‘n roll. More than 800,000 people and thousands of classic cars were on the scene last year for the shows, concerts and cruising, according to the event organizers.

Judges for the 2014 Barrett-Jackson Cup were Chapouris, Bobby Alloway and Bob Millard, some of the most respected names in the custom-car business. They chose 25 cars from the downtown Reno “Show and Shine” car shows, which were then displayed in downtown Reno before five top finalists advanced to the final-awards ceremony at the Barrett-Jackson Auction arena.

The winning Chevy pickup, owned by Alan Beers, was hand built with modifications that include a 3-inch chop, flush-mounted glass, a pie-cut hood, a reshaped nose and a modified front bumper, custom taillights, and painted with Sherwin Williams Quicksilver and Tungsten.

Second Runner-up: 1934 Chevrolet Phaeton | Barrett-Jackson
Second Runner-up: 1934 Chevrolet Phaeton | Barrett-Jackson

The custom-built frame is fitted with Fatman Fabrications suspension, Bilstein coilovers, 15-inch Baer rotors with custom-machined calipers, and custom-made 20- and 22-inch wheels.

The truck is powered by a 540 cid V8 built by Chaz Rose with vintage 1960s Crower fuel injection converted to modern electronic fuel injection, hooked up with a GearStar 4L60E transmission and Ford 9-inch rear.

The other four winners, which also collected significant cash prizes and products, are:

First Runner-up: A 1932 Ford Four Door Built by Hot Rods by JSK that is featured on Street Rodder magazine’s August 2014 cover. Winner of the 2014 Street Rod of the Year and 2014 “Great 8 Car” in Detroit, it features a handmade body and frame, and modified Ford Y-block V8 with vintage Hilborn intake converted to EFI.

Fourth Runner-up:1967 Chevrolet Nova | Barrett-Jackson
Fourth Runner-up:1967 Chevrolet Nova | Barrett-Jackson

Second Runner-up: A 1934 Chevrolet Phaeton designed by Chip Foose and built by the winner of the inaugural Barrett-Jackson Cup, Rad Rides by Troy. It rides on a modified Roadster Shop Chassis with “Heidt’s” independent suspension all around. GM Performance 383 Ram Jet engine is fed by EFI modified to look like a vintage 1957 Rochester unit.

Third Runner-up: A 1964 Buick Riveria by J.F. Launier that was hand-built starting with little more than a $300 “parts car” rusted hulk body. Notably, the Riviera was the 2014 Ridler Award winner at the Detroit Autorama. The rear window and deck are grafted from a later “boat-tail” Riviera. Two rear-mounted turbochargers feed a 6.2-liter Chevrolet V8 by way of a massive intake tube that runs through the cockpit.

Fourth Runner-up: A 1967 Chevrolet Nova by Miranda Built, powered by a twin-turbo NASCAR small-block Chevrolet engine, with RideTech pro-touring suspension controlled by an iPad. It is a 2014 Goodguys Street Machine of the Year winner and 2014 Detroit Autorama “Great 8” finalist.

Barrett-Jackson tops $11 million in Reno auction

A 1932 Ford custom hot rod powered by a blown 540 cid V8 was a top seller | Barrett-Jackson
A 1932 Ford custom hot rod powered by a blown 540 cid V8 was a top seller | Barrett-Jackson

Barrett-Jackson’s second high-energy auction as part of the Hot August Nights hot rod and custom-car extravaganza in Reno-Sparks, Nevada, reached an unofficial total of more than $11 million in sales for 342 cars and 300 pieces of automobilia.

Held in the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, the primarily no-reserve auction boasted a sell-through rate of 99 percent.

Barrett-Jackson started up its partnership with the highly popular Hot August Nights celebration of custom cars and rock ‘n roll with last year’s inaugural event, which had total sales just more than $14.2 million for 344 cars sold, including auction fees.

The unique 1952 Cadillac topless roadster | Barrett-Jackson
The unique 1952 Cadillac topless roadster | Barrett-Jackson

As well as holding its auction at Hot Summer Nights, Barrett-Jackson became strongly involved with the festival by conducting the Barrett-Jackson Cup competition for custom vehicles, which this year was won by a spectacularly customized 1957 Chevrolet pickup truck. Prizes for the top five Cup winners surpassed $100,000.

Three cars shared the spotlight for top-sellers at the annual three-day auction, each bid to $100,000 on the block. One of them was a custom 2014 Ford Transit Connect van outfitted for wheelchair accessibility that sold for charity to benefit the Darrell Gwynn Foundation.

The top 10 cars sold in Reno (including auction fees, except for the charity sale) were:

2014 Ford Transit Connect TTN Wagon Van – $100,000
1933 Ford Custom 2-door Coupe – $110,000
1932 Ford Custom Roadster – $110,000
1967 Ford Mustang Custom Fastback – $97,900
1961 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible – $88,000
1931 Ford Custom Vicky – $88,000
1952 Cadillac Custom Topless Roadster – $88,000
1966 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible – $83,600
1971 Chevrolet C-10 Custom Pickup – $82,500
1965 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible – $82,500

“The collector car hobby is thriving and Barrett-Jackson is the catalyst,” Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson, said in a news release. “While we continue to offer top-tier cars for seasoned, high profile collectors, who were involved in some spirited bidding, our diverse docket attracts enthusiasts of all ages and levels.”

Jaguar D-Type 60th anniversary celebration includes restoration debut of long-lost car

Jaguar D-Type chassis XKD523 will be revealed after four decades in seclusion | Salon Privé
Jaguar D-Type chassis XKD523 will be revealed after four decades in seclusion | Salon Privé

The Jaguar D-Type is one of the most beautiful competition cars ever created, elegant and brutish at the same time, evocatively streamlined yet ruggedly purposeful. And who could resist that magnificent fin that soars behind the head of the driver?

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the D-Type’s debut at the 1954 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it roared to second place overall. The D-Type boasted many innovative features, such as disc brakes and monocoque construction, and it dominated endurance competition during the era.

Today, D-Types’ values as collector cars are in the $4 million range.

A 1955 Jaguar D-Type with an intriguing back story will be seen in public for the first time in 40 years at the exclusive Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance in London this September. The car’s checkered past includes damaging vandalism, disputed identity claims and a Chevy V8 transplant, but it has been made whole again after an extensive reconstruction to original by a dedicated owner.

Chassis number XKD523 will be included among the D-Types appearing at the boutique London concours September 3, where the 60th anniversary of the race car will be celebrated with a special class. Earlier this year, the D-Type was featured at the Goodwood Revival.

“Jaguar enjoys a magnificent road and race heritage and the D-Type was pivotal in cementing this during the 1950s,” said Tony O’Keeffe, Heritage Communications Officer for Jaguar UK. “D-Types are very rare – there were only 71 originally made and a large number of these were lost in the factory fire of ’57 – so to see a class of them at Salon Privé is a real treat and their recognition of the D in its 60th year bears testament to Jaguar and the designers of this iconic car.”

Pick of the Week: 1957 Ford ‘sleeper’ custom

The cleanly restored but plain-looking ’57 Ford packs a big-block V8 wallop

“This 1957 Ford Custom 300 is one heck of a gnarly little sleeper,” says the seller of the hot custom car that looks more like granny’s go-to-meetin’ wheels than any sort of performance rod.

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Antique Harley once owned by Steve McQueen should roar at auction in Monterey

What will the McQueen magic add to the value of the 1912 Harley Big Twin? | Mecum Auctions
What will the McQueen magic add to the value of the 1912 Harley Big Twin? | Mecum Auctions

Another Steve McQueen relic comes to auction this month when Mecum offers a 1912 Harley-Davidson X8E Big Twin motorcycle once owned by the film star, no doubt adding immeasurably to its value.

Mecum, which will auction the ex-McQueen Harley-Davidson during its Monterey sale August 14-16, places a value estimate of $225,000 to $275,000 on the motorcycle. That’s quite a bump for the McQueen provenance; the NADA motorcycle guide places the highest value for a 1912 Big Twin in excellent condition at $90,380.

But the McQueen factor does have an amazing effect on vehicles at auction, a logarithmic multiplying effect that caused the 2011 value of his 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso to quadruple for a sale of $2.3 million and the 2011 sale of the 1970 Porsche 911S that he owned and drove in the opening sequences of the movie Le Mans reach a stunning $1.375 million.

The wheel rims were replaced for riding | Mecum Auctions
The wheel rims were replaced for riding | Mecum Auctions

Auctions of ex-McQueen motorcycles have had similarly startling results.

The antique Harley comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by Terry and Chad McQueen, the daughter and son of the late actor, who was well-known as a car and motorcycle enthusiast. Steve McQueen died of cancer in 1980 and the motorcycle was purchased from his estate in 1984 by its subsequent owner.

The motorcycle reputedly runs well although the paint is in distressed condition, especially where it’s been removed on one side of the tank. The wheels were replaced after McQueen’s ownership so the bike could be ridden, and a period-correct headlamp was added.

More McQueen magic is expected to be in full force at RM’s Monterey auction August 15-16 when an already immensely valuable 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 that was owned and driven by McQueen for five years will be auctioned. Without the McQueen touch, the Ferrari is valued between $1 million and $2 million, but past ownership by “The King of Cool” could triple that. Or more.

Mecum’s inaugural Harrisburg auction tops $21 million

The 1970 Dodge Hemi Coronet R/T sells for $305,000 on the auction block | Mecum Auctions
The 1970 Dodge Hemi Coronet R/T sells for $305,000 on the auction block | Mecum Auctions

Buyers paid more than $21 million for cars and motorcycles at Mecum Auctions’ inaugural sale in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the company’s first foray into the Northeast collector-car market.

A total of 735 cars and bikes went to new owners out of 1,056 offered, for a solid 70-percent sell-through rate, especially strong for a first-time event. Sales of automobiles totaled 596 of the 868 offered, and 139 of the 188 motorcycles rode off with new owners. Mecum said more than 20,000 people attended the three-day auction.

The ’64 Corvette resto mod has a 505hp V8 | Mecum Auctions
The ’64 Corvette resto mod has a 505hp V8 | Mecum Auctions

The top-selling car was a one-of-four 1970 Dodge Hemi Coronet R/T coupe, equipped with 426/425hp Hemi engine and four-speed manual transmission, which reached a stellar $305,000.

One of the auction’s signature cars, a rare 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle LS6 454 convertible, did not make reserve when bidding stopped at $265,000.

The rest of the top-10 sales were:

2. 2012 Cadillac CTS-VR Hennessey Twin-Turbo coupe at $165,000,
3. 1968 Shelby GT350 convertible at $145,000,
4. 2006 Ferrari F430 Spider at $130,000,
5. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette coupe at $125,000,
6. 1941 Ford Convertible resto mod at $125,000,
7. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette resto mod at $120,000,
8. 1964 Chevrolet Corvette resto mod at $105,000,
9. 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL roadster at $105,000,
10. 1993 Ferrari Testarossa 512 TR at $102,000.

The Harrisburg auction also included a wide range of entry-level collector cars, with a number selling for four- and low-five-figure totals.

The 1956 Harley-Davidson FLH was a top seller | Mecum Auctions
The 1956 Harley-Davidson FLH was a top seller | Mecum Auctions

The Top-5 motorcycles sales, an auction dominated by the Mike Quinn collection of more than 100 Harley-Davidsons, were:

1. 1920 Harley-Davidson J-L20 T at $58,000,
2. 1911 Harley-Davidson 7-A single cylinder at $45,000,
3. 1947 Harley-Davidson FL with sidecar at $43,000,
4. 1956 Harley-Davidson FLH at $41,000,
5. 1957 Harley-Davidson FLH at $33,000.

Auction founder and president Dana Mecum said the Harrisburg results reflect those of another successful new auction, the one held in Dallas that has nearly doubled in sales during its first three years.

“With the instant success we witnessed at our inaugural event in Harrisburg, we’re anticipating similar trends in the Northeast to those achieved in the Dallas market,” Mecum said.

Mecum’s next sale, the annual Daytime Auction in Monterey, California, takes place Aug. 14-16.

Great Porsches highlight Coys auction at Nurburgring

Fifteen spectacular Porsches will be among 50 special European classics (plus a pair of all-American Chevys) offered during Coy’s auction at the famed Nurburgring track in Germany.

The Porsches comprise what the British auction company calls a “specialist section” of the August 9 sale of sports, GT and competition cars, including grand prix racers.

The 1958 Porsche 356 Speedster is ready for driving fun | Coys
The 1958 Porsche 356 Speedster is ready for driving fun | Coys

“Nurburgring promises to be a spectacular sale,” said Chris Routledge, managing partner at Coys. “We are featuring a specialist section, ‘The Excellence of Porsche,’ offering some of the finest Porsches available on the market anywhere in the world today.”

These include a rare and original 1970 911 S/T competition car formerly owned by German race driver Walter Röhrl and valued at $1.2 million to $1.5 million. The Porsche has been restored to its original factory configuration, Coys said.

“This is one of the rarest and most sought after 911s in the world and surely worthy of a place in any Porsche museum or to be seen in any significant worldwide motoring event,” Coys said in a news release.

Also featured is a 1976 934 RSR Turbo, estimated at $1.2 million to $1.34 million, which ran at Le Mans in 1976 but dropped out with turbocharging problems. The rare and significant survivor has documented period racing history, FIA papers and is ready to compete again.

A 1955 Allgaier tractor is among the Porsche entries | Coys
A 1955 Allgaier tractor is among the Porsche entries | Coys

For touring, there’s a Porsche 356 Speedster that left the factory in Stuttgart in 1958 and is one of 552 made that year. Finished in silver with a black interior, its estimated value is $335,000 to $400,000.

There’s even a Porsche that’s ready for the farm, a 1955 Allgaier Porsche mono-cylinder tractor, valued at $16,000 to $19,000. Or if you prefer agriculture Italian style, how about a tractor from Lamborghini, a rare 1958 DL30 Super, estimated at $15,000 to $17,000.

The Coys sale also presents a number of Ferraris, Lancias, Maseratis and Fiats among its Italian offerings; BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes from Germany; Jaguars, Austin-Healeys, Triumphs and others from Great Britain; a convertible Citroen DS 21 from France; and from the U.S., a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro RSS and a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette coupe restored as a ZL1.