27 May 2015

Auction Preview: Bonhams Greenwich 2015

On Sunday, May 31, Bonhams will conduct its annual auction in conjunction with the Greenwich Concours d’Elegance in Connecticut. The sale will be held at the picturesque Roger Sherman Baldwin Park, right on the water, and will feature more than 90 vehicles as well as several dozen pieces of automobilia. Bonhams’ Greenwich sale is typically heavy on prewar and veteran collector cars, but there is always an impressive variety of postwar American and European cars despite the small size of the auction, and this year is no different. Here are five particularly enticing cars that caught our attention.

1973 Porsche 911 RS 2.7 Touring
Lot 251
Estimate: $550,000 - $700,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $580,000 - $901,000

As the 911 market continues to make waves, valuable limited production examples keep making their way to auction. Although Bonhams’ 1973 Carrera RS 2.7 is a less coveted “Touring” model with a few more creature comforts, it’s still a real RS 2.7 and therefore a car to watch. Bonhams actually sold this very car at the Quail Lodge back in 2009 (it didn’t have the Carrera script on it at the time) for $232,500, meaning that even if this car sells at the low presale estimate in Greenwich it will have more than doubled in value in a little over five years. For a more up-to-date reference, RM just sold another RS 2.7 Touring in Amelia Island back in March for $891,000.

1958 Abarth 750 GT Coupe
Lot 223
Estimate: $100,000 - $125,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $61,000 - $155,000

The Abarths of the 1950s and 1960s were most at home on a race track, usually dominating the small displacement classes. Curiously, though, this one was spared the hard life of a race car and was actually bought new in California by a college student who used it as his daily driver. It remained in California and has received both an engine enlargement to 920cc and a full restoration in the meantime. Although it lacks a race history that can in many cases add value, its comfortable life has presumably left it in solid condition, which Bonhams’ presale estimate reflects given the current market for these little Italian giant killers.

1956 DeSoto Fireflite Indianapolis Pacesetter Convertible
Lot 254
Estimate: $60,000 - $80,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $40,700 - $135,000

The Fireflite was DeSoto’s range-topping model and featured a 330-cubic-inch Hemi under the hood. In 1956, the Fireflite was given the honor of serving as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500. Just as many other brands that paced the 500 have done, DeSoto turned it into a promotional opportunity and built 400 fully loaded Fireflite convertibles for customers, calling them “Indianapolis Pacesetters.” Bonhams’ example is one of only 30 thought to still exist and is a preserved car owned by the same family from new. Indy 500 pace car versions of just about any car do tend to command a premium, and the Fireflite is no exception, which is reflected in Bonhams’ presale estimate. 

1946 Volkswagen Beetle
Lot 270
Estimate: $75,000 - $125,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $16,400 - $54,200

An old Beetle doesn’t seem all that interesting at first, but there are a few of them out there that really are special, and the model year of this example should at least get you curious. The Beetle was not offered to the U.S. market until 1948, and the early production numbers as the factory was just getting on its feet after the war were incredibly miniscule compared to the gargantuan scale of production that characterized the Beetle in later years. This car is one of only two such Beetles in America, and may very well be the oldest VW in the country. Greenwich doesn’t typically attract a Volkswagen crowd, but the bidders there typically put a high value on historical significance, which this car certainly has.

1935 SS90 Roadster
Lot 291
Estimate: $250,000 - $400,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Greenwich is heavy on grand prewar cars, including a 1938 Gangloff-bodied Bugatti Type 57, but one of the most interesting prewar offerings there has to be the 1935 SS90, precursor to the SS100 and a mouth-watering car for any Jaguar enthusiast (William Lyons didn’t rename his company Jaguar until after World War II). Less than 25 SS90s were made with the side-valve Standard straight-six engine before the car was replaced by the SS100 with its significantly hotter overhead valve engine. Bonhams’ example is the 10th produced and a restoration began in the 1970s but remains unfinished. The car is complete except for its original engine, although it has an overhead valve SS100 unit in its place. A relatively straightforward restoration is in this car’s future, and then it will be the absolute star of any Jaguar gathering.

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