5 August 2015

Auction Preview: 10 Oddball Cars to Look Out for at the 2015 Monterey Auctions

Monterey brings out an incredible variety of cars every year, both at the shows and the auctions. Almost nowhere else can you shop such a range in size, age, body style and international brands. And it isn’t limited to one auction house, either. Every sale has at least a few quirky, unusual lots on offer, be it a strange-looking one-off Ferrari, a charming beach-mobile or an obscure sports car. Here are 10 oddballs that we’ll be keeping an eye on:

1962 Ferrari 250 SWB Berlinetta Speciale by Bertone
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: $14,000,000 - $16,000,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

The styling is a bit “love it or hate it,” but as a 250 GT SWB with a one-off body designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone, and as a car that was the brainchild of Nuccio Bertone himself, the value and history are certainly there. The nose of the Bertone SWB was given the “sharknose” treatment reminiscent of the Ferrari Formula One cars that had just won the world championship, and the interior was more luxuriously appointed than the standard car. It has been in a private collection for the last 35 years, so this is a singular opportunity for a collector to acquire one of the most distinctive coachbuilt Ferraris of them all.

1952 Muntz Jet
Mecum
Presale estimate: $70,000 - $80,000
Hagerty Price Guide: $44,100 - $104,000

The Muntz Jet was originally born under Frank Kurtis, the famous builder of Indy racecars, when he decided to build an American competitor to the sports cars arriving in the United States from Europe. Eventually, Kurtis decided to sell the rights to build the car to dealer and entrepreneur Earl William “Madman” Muntz. The Muntz Jet typically had a large Lincoln or Cadillac V-8, an aluminum body and removable fiberglass roof. To make the cars stand out, Muntz featured an eccentric options list that included things like mahogany planks on the rear deck, snake skin upholstery or even a small cocktail bar in the back seat armrests. Muntz lost money on every single one, and fewer than 400 were built. Quicker and more interesting than a Corvette of the same vintage, the Muntz Jet offered by Mecum does have a certain appeal to it.

1961 Moretti Multipla 750
Mecum
Presale estimate: $60,000 - $80,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Not many people have heard of Moretti, but those who have mainly know the company for its small displacement sports and racing cars. In the late 1950s, however, Moretti began selling road cars based on the Fiat 750. This beach car version of the Moretti 750 was used on a resort in Greece before receiving a body-off restoration a couple of years ago. It has all the charm and cute factor you could ask for, and when was the last time you saw one? It makes a Fiat Jolly look like old news.

1981 Porsche C928 Convertible Prototype
Mecum
Presale estimate: $125,000 - $150,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Porsche never made a convertible version of the 928, so Southern California shop Carelli International built eight open versions of Porsche’s famous front-engined V-8 offering at a cost of $313,000 each. Mecum’s example is the last one built, and it has just 6,300 miles on it.  While not a factory built car, it’s an interesting piece of Porsche history and it offers lots of exclusivity.

1967 Aston Martin DB6 Shooting Brake by Radford
RM Sotheby’s
Presale estimate: $550,000 - $650,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Only six DB6 Shooting Brakes were built, four of them by Radford. RM’s example was ordered new (at a considerable premium over the regular DB6) at the New York Automobile Show in 1966 and used by the original owner, as the car was intended, to carry luggage and guns for hunting. It has remained in the same family ever since and has recently been refurbished.  Driving enthusiasts might be disappointed by the Borg Warner automatic that this example is equipped with, but it is otherwise well equipped with a Bosch radio, Marchal fog lights, Connolly leather and air conditioning.

1949 Veritas Scorpion Cabriolet
Bonhams
Presale estimate: N/A
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Veritas was a now somewhat obscure German sports car manufacturer started in the postwar years by ex-BMW men who utilized many mechanicals from the old BMW 328, including the 2.0-liter straight-six. BMW actually absorbed Veritas after only a few years of production, but in a short period of time Veritas made an impression in European sports car racing and sold several road cars, including the Scorpion. Bonhams’ example is an older restoration and one of only a handful in the world. There are only two of them believed to be in the United States.

1960 Austin FX4 Brougham Sedanca
Bonhams
Presale  estimate: $50,000 - $80,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Nubar Gulbenkian was an Armenian-born millionaire who was educated in England. In addition to being an Anglophile, he was also an eccentric, and eccentric is certainly one word you could use to describe the custom Austin taxis he had built by FML Panelcraft to his own design. It is the second of perhaps three modified London black cabs built for Gulbenkian, and on the inside it looks much more Rolls-Royce than British Leyland. While not a pretty car, it sure is eye-catching.

1961 Jensen 541S
Russo and Steele
Presale estimate: N/A
Hagerty Price Guide: $18,800 - $65,200

The Jensen 541 was actually a fairly advanced car for its time with such features as fiberglass bodywork, disc brakes on all four wheels, and seat belts. Russo and Steele’s 541S (the last of the 541 series) is one of only two left-hand-drive examples built, and is powered by Austin’s 4.0-liter straight-six coupled to a Moss 4-speed. In this country, we mainly associated Jensen with the Interceptor and the Jensen Healey. Before either of those two cars, however, Jensen was already making big, beautiful GT cars just like this.

1956 Fiat Eden Roc
Gooding & Company
Presale estimate: N/A
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

If you squint, the Fiat Eden Roc almost looks like a boat, and indeed it was a car designed to be near the water. Industrialist Gianni Agnelli had Pininfarina build the car for him on a stretched and widened Fiat Multipla chassis for transporting guests from his Nice, France, estate to the shore. Union Oil chairman William Doheny then saw the car at the Paris Motor Show in 1956 and had one (this one) built for use at his own lakeside estate. It was then fully restored by a member of the Doheny family at the end of the last decade and remains one of only two built.

1961 Renault 4CV Resort Special
Rick Cole
Presale estimate: $100,000 - $120,000
Hagerty Price Guide: N/A

Like the Moretti and the Eden Roc mentioned above, this Renault 4CV Resport Special makes a Fiat Jolly look commonplace, as only 11 are thought to still exist. The 4CV was an economy car, but it spawned tons of variants, including the beach car version with bodywork by Ghia, which also did the Fiat Jolly. Rick Cole’s example has received a restoration that was completed this year, and though the presale estimate seems ambitious, cute factor has been proven to translate into big dollars in the right auction setting.

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