Category archives: News

Bonhams bike auction obliterates pre-auction estimates

In period photo, George Brough has sidecar attached to his Superior SS100 | Morton Achieves photo courtesy Bonhams
In period photo, George Brough has sidecar attached to his Superior SS100 | Morton Achieves courtesy Bonhams

With many motorcycles passing their pre-auction value estimates as if those figures were standing still, Bonhams annual Stafford Sale of Pioneer, Vintage and Collectors’ Motorcycles and Memorabilia was, well:

“Overall the sale was exceptional,” said Ben Walker, head of motorcycles for the British auction house. “We are delighted with the results achieved for this long and well-established sale.”

Overall, Bonhams reported an 89-percent sell-through rate and total exceeding $3.4 million.

1939 Brough Superior SS100 | Bonhams
1939 Brough Superior SS100 | Bonhams

The star of the sale was a Brough Superior SS100 formerly owned by George Brough himself. The bike, first registered in 1939 and raced by Brough in the London-Edinburgh Trial that year, had a pre-auction estimate of $235,000 to $300,000 but sold for $427,000.

“The SS100 was a record price at auction for a Matchless-engined example, and the owner was truly astounded with the result achieved,” Walker said in a news release.”

He called the overall results of the sale “a real return to form,” and added that “Online bidding was strong with buyers from as far away as Australia and New Zealand — along with people in the auction room from, amongst other countries, Canada, America, France, Italy and Holland.”

Among the most impressive sales were:

  • A 1972 MV Agusta 750S that went for $144,000, nearly double its pre-auction estimate,
  • A 1914 Henderson Model C that sold for $134,600, again nearly double its estimate,
  • A 1953 Vincent 998cc Black Shadow that brought $70,940, again nearly double pre-auction expectations,
  • A 1989 Ducatti 888cc Lucchinelli replica racer still in its original crate that was estimated to go for around $25,000 but brought nearly $64,000,
  • A 1939 Brought Superior 990cc SS80 Project that sold for nearly $62,000, three times its pre-auction estimate,
  • An ex-Phil Vare/Isle of Man TT 1929 Scott racer that sold for more than $52,000.
Prough Superior 'project' brings $62,000 | Bonhams
Brough Superior ‘project’ brings $62,000 | Bonhams

The sale was held at the annual Stafford Internationnal Classic MotorCycle show, but at a new location at that show.

“A new venue within the show for the first time in 27 years gave greater comfort to bidders and a better viewing platform,” said Malcolm Barber, Bonhams Group chief executive and the auctioneer for the motorcycle sale.”

Barber also credited the sale’s success to “new buyers and international bidding” that “buoyed prices with a strong sell through rate.”

Barber added that the show and sale serve as “the barometer of the international motorcycle market each year in April… show all the trends and indicators for this important collectors’ market — and the indicators are strong.”

1914 Henderson Model C | Bonhams
1914 Henderson Model C | Bonhams

 

 

Mecum launches ‘super yacht’ auction in Florida

The beautiful 86-foot Permare Amer will be among the super yachts offered by Mecum | Mecum Auctions
The beautiful 86-foot Permare Amer will be among the super yachts offered by Mecum | Mecum Auctions

After more-than a quarter century of classic car sales, Mecum Auctions takes the plunge this week with what it is calling the world’s first Super Yacht Auction.

Super yachts – the massively opulent luxury vessels that can sail the Seven Seas and cost multi-millions of dollars – will be featured May 2-3 in the South Beach, Florida, auction of 25 high-end yachts, off-shore speedboats and other pricey vessels designed to appeal to the world’s wealthiest bidders.

Of the ocean-going craft, about 12 of them are officially classified as “super yachts” because they run more than 75 feet from stem to stern, according to Mecum’s yacht specialist, Jerry Burton. But like Mecum’s classic car auctions, the yacht sale will have enough variety of scale and price to make it interesting, and help separate the real billionaires from the mere millionaires.

The Hatteras 130 is the biggest boat at auction | Mecum Auctions
The Hatteras 130 is the biggest boat at auction | Mecum Auctions

“They are the same class of people who have polo ponies,” Burton said. “These boats are expensive, and owning a boat is an expensive proposition.”

About $30 million would be generated if all the boats are sold, Burton said.

Burton said it was his longtime expertise with yacht sales that convinced Dana Mecum, founder and head of the auction company, to create the seaside auction.

“It’s a new venture for him,” Burton said of Mecum. “He’s not a boat person. I’m as experienced in boats as he is in cars. I know everybody in the boat business as he knows everyone in the car business.”

The largest vessel in the auction is the 130-foot Hatteras Tri-Deck Motor Yacht, which boasts the spaciousness and luxury fittings of a mansion in Beverly Hills. Built in 1995 by Hatteras of North Carolina, the yacht has 5 cabins for 10 guests (including the master suite) and accommodations for 7 crew members.

Mecum includes no value estimates for the auction boats, but a similar Hatteras spotted for sale on an Internet site was priced at $9.4 million.

The Italian-American Magnum 44 | Mecum Auctions
The Italian-American Magnum 44 | Mecum Auctions

Although it’s the biggest, it might not be the most-expensive boat on board, Burton said, with such custom beauties as the 124-foot craft from Delta Marine, which “has a relaxed, beach house ambiance, filled with warm, light woods and fine stonework,” the auction catalog says.

“A lot of these boats have gone to Europe,” Burton said. “You could live on these boats, and live like a king.”

There is a selection of smaller boats for island hopping and exploring the coastline, all of the craft exotic and very expensive.

Even the smallest boat offered, a 16-foot open fishing vessel called the Bimini Bonefisher, is “a work of art,” Burton said. It comes from a small Bahamas company that builds one boat per year with the finest craftsmanship and materials. “It’s gorgeous.”

The idea for the yacht auction came after the successful sale several years ago of a single luxury yacht during a Mecum auction in Florida, Burton added.

“We sold a boat at the Kissimmee auction that one of my wealthy clients brought to Italy,” he said. “It was terrific, and ever since, I’ve been thinking about that and talking with Dana.

“I worked on him for a long time, and finally he said, ‘OK, let’s give it a shot.’”

Car designer Peter Brock to lecture at Blackhawk

Peter Brock will sign copies of his recent Corvette Sting Ray book | Brock Racing Enterprises
Peter Brock will sign copies of his recent Corvette Sting Ray book | Brock Racing Enterprises

Car designer, author, racing-team owner, photo journalist – Peter Brock has excelled at all his pursuits, starting at the age of 19 when he joined Bill Mitchell’s group of stylists at General Motors, where he became a leading force in the creation of the Corvette Sting Ray.

Brock will present a lecture at noon Sunday at the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville, Calif., focusing on his time as one of the youngest designers ever hired at GM Styling and how he worked with Mitchell, Harley Earl, Zora Arkus-Duntov and Ed Cole in producing the groundbreaking 1963 Sting Ray.

Part of the museum’s Spring Speaker Series, the lecture by Brock coincides with the 34th annual “A Legend on Display” car show presented by the Northern California Corvette Association, which takes place in the museum plaza. More than 100 cars are expected.

Brock's 1957 sketch helped launch the Sting Ray | General Motors
Brock’s 1957 sketch helped launch the Sting Ray | General Motors

Brock will be available to sign copies of his 2013 book, Corvette Sting Ray: Genesis of an American Icon, in which Brock gives an insider’s look at how the Sting Ray came about, and the many competing decisions that went into its design.

A sketch made by Brock in 1957 was picked by Mitchell as the focus for the second-generation Corvette and spawned one of America’s most famous show cars, the Sting Ray Racer of 1959. It also provided the direction for the eventual production Sting Ray that appeared to manic acclaim in the fall of 1962.

Brock is most-famous among racing fans for his work with Carroll Shelby, who hired the young designer as the first employee for his performance and racing endeavors. Brock accepted the challenge from Shelby of creating a version of the Cobra roadster for high-speed performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The result — the iconic Cobra Daytona Coupe — succeeded in beating reigning Ferrari for a GT-class win at Le Mans. It also was the first American car to win the FIA’s GT World Championship.

Brock ran his own racing team at one point, under Brock Racing Enterprises, which campaigned Datsun 510 coupes to conquer Alfa-Romeo and Porsche in Trans Am 2.5 competition. The BRE Datsuns became famous for taking their blue-and-orange livery into victory lane.

For more information about the lecture, the Corvette show and other events at the Blackhawk Museum, see www.blackhawkmuseum.org.

Today is the license plate’s birthday

Some of the historic license plates at the Petersen museum | Larry Edsall
Some of the historic license plates at the Petersen museum | Larry Edsall

April 25 is the birthday of the automotive license plate in the United States.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York was the first state to require license plates on motor vehicles, beginning April 25, 1901.

At the time, the census bureau reports, there were fewer than 15,000 motor cars in the entire country. Today, there are nearly 250 million cars, trucks and buses in the country, and all of them wear license plates.

“Many automobile license plates proclaim glories of the issuing states; others spell out something dear to the drivers but indecipherable to anyone else,” the census bureau’s news release reports.

Regardless, it continues, “Those plates and the basic ones handed out by motor vehicle departments are requirements to drive on public roads.”

Oh, and if you want to decorate your plate — or plates, depending on the state in which you reside — the census bureau reports there are 38,000 auto parts and accessories stores that can sell you decorative license plate frames.

For more such trivia, you can visit www.census.gov.

To learn more about license plates, you can visit the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, which has an entire exhibition on the history of license plates. The Petersen’s exhibition opened late last year and runs through December 7.

The famous 1928 Massachusetts plate | Larry Edsall
The famous 1928 Massachusetts plate | Larry Edsall

The highlight of the Petersen’s exhibition is the 1928 Massachussets license plate, which many of that state’s residents blamed for the lousy fishing season that year.

It was in 1928 that the Massachusetts department of motor vehicles added a fish symbol to the state’s license plates, but positioned the fish so it was swimming away from the word “Mass.” After a poor season for fishermen and an anglers’ uproar, the person who designed that plate was fired and the following year the fish pointed toward the state’s name and the fishing industry prospered.

Such tales are shared in the “License Plates: Unlocking the Code” exhibit.

“There really is educational value to each plate in this display,” said Jeff Minard, a license plate historian who worked with the museum on the display. “At the same time, time, these unique pieces are displayed as art for everyone to enjoy.” 

Porsche’s ‘rolling museum’ to visit Pebble Beach

A Porsche participates in the Mille Miglia | Porsche Museum
A Porsche participates in the Mille Miglia | Porsche Museum

Porsche calls it a “rolling museum.”

“It” is a showcase of Porsche racing cars that takes them from their stationary positions within the Porsche Museum in Germany and puts them on roads and race tracks, not only at Europe’s top classic car events this year but also in northern California.

From May 15-18, a 550 Spyder, two 356 coupes and a 356 Speedster will participate in the annual Mille Miglia rally in Italy, the Porsche Museum  announced. Among the drivers for the 1,000-mile rally are Porsche chairman Wolfgang Porsche and famed endurance racer Jacky Ickx.

June 6-7, famed Porsche racers Walter Rohrl and Hans-Joachim Stuck will drive a 911 Carrera 2.7 RS and a 911 Speedster across southwestern Germany in the Paul Pietsch Klassik.

Porsche's 917 at Goodwood in 2013
Porsche’s 917 at Goodwood in 2013

Later in June (26-29), Porsche will participate in the “Turbo” theme of the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in England, and not only with a 959 Group B rally car, a 964 Turbo, a 993 Turbo and the “Baby” 935, a car that gets its nickname from is scaled-down 1.4-liter engine, but with two 917s — the 917 KH that produced Porsche’s first overall victory at Le Mans and a 917/30 Can-Am series racer.

July 6-7, a 911 Carrera RSR Targa Florio, a 935/77 Group 5 racer, a 911 Turbo Cabriolet and a 911 Turbo 3.0 will go from the museum to the Le Mans Classic.

Porsche itself is the featured marque for the Ennstal Classic that takes place July 10-12. In addition to several 356s from the museum, Porsche will send a 911 2.2 Targa, will have Rohrl in a 718 WRS, Ickx in a 550 A Spyder and current works racer Marc Lieb in a 1998 Porsche GT1 for the Chopard Grand Prix von Grobming. The program includes a hill climb, touring drives through the Tauern Mountains, and the grand prix race through city streets.

Cars from the Porsche Museum will participate in the sixth Schloss Bensberg Classic scheduled for July 18-20, traveling to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the U.S. in mid-August, and from August 21-24 parting in the Sachsen Classic, a classic car rally from Zwickau to Chemnitz in Europe’s Vogtland region.

Porsche says its “rolling museum” is part of its philosophy of making sure all the vehicles in its museum are roadworthy and “thus fulfill the original purpose for which they were built: to be driven.”

Photographers focus on a Porsche during Mille Miglia rally
Photographers focus on a Porsche during Mille Miglia rally

California Mille gets set for thousand-mile tour

Alfa-Romeos and a Jaguar XK soar through the curves during a previous Mille | California Mille
Alfa-Romeos and a Jaguar XK soar through the curves during a previous Mille | California Mille

The 24th annual California Mille starts April 28 for a four-day, thousand-mile classic car tour of scenic countryside and challenging back roads across the middle of California.

“It’s kind of a cross-section of California landscapes, really a mix of the Coast, the Sierra Nevadas, Napa Valley wine country, Sacramento river delta and Central Valley,” co-director David Swig said of the drive route. “So it will be quite a diversity of roads and landscapes. We change the routes every year to give people something fresh and new roads to drive on.”

For the second year, the California Mille is headed by David and Howard Swig, sons of the late Martin Swig, the irrepressible old-car enthusiast who founded the California version of Italy’s famed Mille Miglia road rally. Martin Swig died in July 2012. His sons vowed to keep the premium event going unchanged.

Rally cars displayed at the Fairmount Hotel | California Mille
Rally cars displayed at the Fairmount Hotel | California Mille

As ever, the grand sweep of 80 vintage sports, race and touring cars is the star attraction of the road rally. On Sunday, the day before the rally departs, the public is invited to enjoy a free show of the rally cars from noon to 6 p.m. in front of the Fairmount Hotel on San Francisco’s historic Nob Hill. More than 10,000 people are expected to see the rare field of entries.

“This year’s Mille may be the most signi?cant compendium of classic cars we’ve ever had,” David Swig said. “Along with some 13 Alfa Romeos, 11 Porsches, 6 Jaguars and half a dozen Ferraris – largely vintage ‘50s and ‘60s – we have a ’52 Tojeiro Roadster, a ’28 Bentley, ’57 Kurtis Kraft 500KK and a ’38 Lancia Aprilia.”

David Swig said that for his own rally car, he picked two distinctively different possibilities: a brawny all-American vintage race car or a nimble Italian sports coupe with unique California Mille history.

A pair of red 1950s Jaguars on the road | California Mille
A pair of red 1950s Jaguars on the road | California Mille

“I’m going to drive whatever car is ready to go, but at this point it looks like we’re going to drive a ’51 Chrysler Saratoga, which is a car similar to the car that John Fitch drove in the 1951 La Carrera Panamericana race,” he said. “It looks like the car that John Fitch drove. It has Halibrand magnesium wheels and a 331 Hemi, which is pumped up a little bit. All period stuff in the style that they would have run back in the early ’50s. Still drum brakes and all that.

“If that for whatever reason is not ready to go, I’m going to drive a car that my father drove on the first California Mille, which is a little Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce. But I’m really hoping to take the Chrysler because we already have quite a few Alfas and Porsches and small sports cars. Sometimes it’s nice to take something that’s a bit out of the ordinary.”

David Swig, 29, and his brother Howard, 26, along with Dan Radowicz and Ron Wren, have taken on the task of keeping alive the spirit of the California Mille after the death of Martin Swig, who was well-known in classic car circles for his unflagging enthusiasm and gregarious demeanor.

“Basically, my brother and I grew up fully immersed in the car world from all different aspects,” David Swig said. “It was and continues to be a full-immersion experience. He certainly passed on his passion to me and Howard.”

Martin Swig started up the California Mille after taking part in 1982 in the Mille Miglia of Italy, a road-rally re-enactment of what was formerly a full-on thousand-mile road race, which was run 24 times from 1927 through 1958 under the same name (Mille Miglia is Italian for “thousand mile”). The 24th year of the California Mille is therefore considered a notable milestone.

Bonhams readies London motorcar, automobilia auction

The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions
The 1927 Bentley 3-Liter Speed Model Tourer is one of the stars of the auction | Bonhams Auctions

Coachbuilt Bentleys and an off-road truck built by Lamborghini highlight the Bonhams Collector’s Motor Cars and Automobilia Sale, scheduled for April 28 at London’s RAF Museum.

Bonham’s sale opens with a high-end collection of vintage automotive literature, posters, artworks and pre-war mascots, including a selection of valuable radiator ornaments by French glass designer Renè Lalique.

More than 70 classic cars will be offered after the automobilia sale, with a wide range of values and conditions, from a three-wheeled economy panel van and “barn-find” Jaguars to rare restored Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Alvis motorcars.

Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions
Macho Lamborghini LM 002 off-roader | Bonhams Auctions

A classic 1927 Bentley 3-liter Speed Model Tourer with coachwork by Vanden Plas and painted a brilliant red will cross the block with an estimated worth of $170,000 to $250,000. A 1956 Bentley S-Series Continental Sports Saloon with shapely streamlined styling by H.J. Mulliner will also be offered, estimated at $470,000-570,000.

An unusual 1949 Bentley MKVI 4¼-Liter Countryman Shooting Brake with a woodie-wagon body by Harold Radford is valued at $120,000-150,000.

The 1987 Lamborghini LM 002, an over-the-top four-wheel-drive SUV known in the U.S. as “Rambo Lambo,” is valued at $130,000-200,000. One of just 328 LM 002s produced between 1986 and 1992, this one was originally owned by Italian racing driver Mario Ricci.

For more information about the Bonhams sale, visit the website at www.bomhams.com.

Everything may be bigger in Texas: Houston doubles up on concours, auctions

2013 best-in-show winners were 1936 Delahaye Type 135 and 1969 Ford GT40 | Concours d'Elegance of Texas
2013 best-in-show winners were 1936 Delahaye Type 135 and 1969 Ford GT40 | Concours d’Elegance of Texas

Pebble Beach, Scottsdale and Amelia Island have become focal points on the classic car calendar, drawing enthusiasts from across the country (and around the world) because of their overlapping multiple events. Is Houston a serious candidate to join that club?

Consider that soon after Mecum Auctions completed a record-setting sale in Houston’s Reliant Center, there will be not one but two concours d’elegance in the oil-driven boom town on the same weekend in early May, each with an auction and all sorts of other activities.

Recently, we shared the news that a Motostalgia auction will join the lineup for the 19th annual Keels & Wheels concours at Seabrook, on Galveston south of Houston. But that early May weekend also is the date for the third annual Concours d’Elegance of Texas, which is held less than 100 miles away, albeit on the other side of the city, northwest of Houston at the La Torretta Lake resort and spa on Lake Conroe in Montgomery.

Judges hear a car's story
Judges hear a car’s story

In its third year, the Texas concours includes:

  • A driving tour
  • Golf tournament
  • Worldwide Auctioneers 19th annual Houston Classic auction
  • “Next Gen” educational summit (with experts from Hagerty and Worldwide instructing high school students and at-risk youth on classic car preservation, maintenance, restoration and judging)
  • Cowboys & Cars strolling charity dinner and dance
  • A 5th annual antiques festival in historic Montgomery
  • The concours, sponsored by the Gullo family auto dealership group, with 34 classes of classic cars on display and being judged.

Featured vehicles at the auction include:

  • A 1955 Porsche 356 Pre-A Speedster
  • An ex-works 1930 Riley Brooklands two-seat roadster
  • A garage-found after 40 years 1957 Aston Martin DB 2/4 Mark III
  • A 1-of-4 1934 Auburn Twelve salon cabriolet
  • A 2,700-mile 1969 L88 Chevrolet Corvette

The Texas concours calls itself “The Family Concours” because of its family-friendly location, said the event’s head of operations, John Aguillard. The La Torretta Lake resort includes its own water park, a variety of restaurants and a baby-sitting service.

“Our chief judge, R.C. Willbanks Jr., has two small children and told us ‘this is an absolutely wonderful place to have a concours. Not only do I get to have fun, but I get to have fun with my family’,” said Aguillard, who explained that the judge’s remark led to the event’s subtitle.

The location also makes the event an easier drive for classic car enthusiasts from Dallas, which is the home of event chairman Mike Ames. In addition to Ames, others on the event’s board of directors include Don Sommer, founder of Michigan Concours d’Elegance at Meadow Brook (now held at the Inn at St. Johns); Hudson and AMC collector Ed Souers; former Keels & Wheels co-chairman Ron Stein; and David Madeira, president of The LeMay museum.

Maybe it’s not only Houston’s but Texas’ turn in the classic car spotlight: In addition to the recent Mecum sale and the two Houston-area concours, Leake Auctions has a sale April 25-26 at Dallas, and north of there, up near the Texas-Oklahoma border, the second-annual Cruisin’ Nocona old-car festival, complete with a Vicari classic car auction, takes place May 1-3.

The Leake docket is highlighted by:

  • One of only three known extant (of 16 built) 1957 Chevrolet El Moroccos
  • A 1991 Ferrari Testarossa with only 8,119 miles on its odometer
  • A 2005 Bentley Continental GT that will be sold to benefit St. Cloud’s Rescue, a care and adoption program for large-breed dogs
  • A never-raced, 49th of 50-produced 2014 Ford Mustang Super Cobra Jet (the buyer gets a complimentary visit to the Roy Hill Drag Racing School)
  • A 2009 Dodge challenger SRT8 SEMA show car.

Corvette museum considering options for preserving not only cars but part of the sinkhole

Exploration of sinkhole continues | National Corvette Museum
Exploration of sinkhole continues | National Corvette Museum

With all of the damaged vehicles removed from the sinkhole beneath the Skydome at the National Corvette Museum, options are being considered about the repairs needed to restore the facility and those vehicles. One option is to preserve a portion of the sinkhole for future museum visitors to see and to learn not only about the collapse, but about the ground beneath not just the museum but the entire area. Continue reading

$7 million GT40 goes to Utah motorsports museum

The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions
The Ford GT40 was raced by Shelby America during the 1965 season | Mecum Auctions

The Ford GT40 prototype racecar that hammered sold at a record $7 million April 12 at the Mecum auction in Houston will be put on permanent display at the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum in Tooele, Utah.

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