AUCTIONS in New York these days are very hot.
Last week, Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona set a world record when it sold for US$17.75 million (RM74.55 million) at a Phillips Auction in midtown. It was so popular, it hit US$10 million by the second bid, and the sale lasted only 12 minutes.
On Dec 6, RM Sotheby’s will offer Steve McQueen’s Le Mans racing suit and helmet for US$500,000. The suit is peripheral to the cars the auction house has listed in what is sure to be the most prestigious, most expensive car sale ever staged in New York.
The theme of the sale is Icons, and it is designed to highlight iconic models from the car world, such as the Porsche 911, Ferrari F12, and even the plucky Lancia Delta. The idea is to appeal to a broad swath of collectors, some of whom may be inspired to purchase their first important, collectible car during the sale. Even better, it’s open for a full preview so to the public can see the cars at the Sotheby’s location for the week before the sale.
“This year, having a number of cars that are a bit recognisable and approachable, like the Steve Jobs Z8, helps attract more local attention - and attention from first-time buyers - from a comfort level,” said Ian Kelleher, the chief marketing officer of RM Sotheby’s. “You can’t expect to sell a million-dollar car to someone who has never owned a classic car before.”
Coming off the momentum of that record-setting Rolex, the mood is right for Sotheby’s sale to pop: All told, 32 cars worth an estimated US$55 million will cross the auction block in Manhattan that evening.
Here’s a look at the big lots on tap next month:
1. 1966 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 Roadster
High estimate: RM1.36m (US$325,000)
The most iconic Jaguar of all time, this 4.2-litre, 265-bhp, six-cylinder roadster was renowned for its speed (150-miles per hour top speed; less than 7 seconds to 60mph) and obvious style. Enzo Ferrari famously called it the most beautiful car ever made.
Series 1 was made from 1961 to 1968 with leather-upholstered bucket seats, an aluminum-trimmed centre instrument panel, and four-speed gearbox. This one comes with three-part coloured taillights, round-cut headlights, and black leather interior with a wooden steering wheel. Fewer than 17,000 of them were made.
2. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
High estimate: RM6.29M (US$1.5 Million)
This was the first car in history to really be seen as a status symbol of serious wealth. Clark Gable and Sophia Loren each owned one; the doors alone made every entrance or exit from the car worthy of a Hollywood star.
This one comes in brilliant red with a blonde interior, plus a four-speed manual transmission and its original engine.
3. 1958 Austin-Healey 100-Six Goldie
High estimate: RM2.3M (US$550,000)
This Goldie is so special because it’s a one-off made by Donald Healey, who wanted to make the most lavish car possible. The exterior is plated in 24-karat gold; the dashboard is suede; and the windshield wipers used to spray champagne. That’s not to mention the mink-lined seats and pure-ivory knobs inside. The car used a 2.7-litre straight-six engine that got 117 horsepower. It could hit 60mph in just over 10 seconds, which was considered quick-moving when it first debuted.
4. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series II by Pininfarina
High estimate: RM7.55M (US$1.8Million)
Even though you can find plenty of variations online, Ferrari 250s are the best-known blue-chip cars these days, and this one is no different from the rest of the gilded group.
It debuted in Paris in 1959 and has a unique colour combination of “Verde Italver” over “Natural Franzi” leather. The car comes with Ferrari’s famous manual V12 engine and impressive near-300hp output. This is the 150th of only 200 of this type built.
5. 1995 Porsche 911 GT2
High estimate: RM5.87M (US$1.4 Million)
The 993 is the last of the great air-cooled 911s, with bodywork, headlights, and six-speed transmission redesigned over the previous 964 model. It has a 430-hp six-cylinder engine and a top speed of 187mph. A similar GT2 took US$2.4 million last year. As the saying goes, they all look the same, right? This one could do equally well.
6. 2000 BMW Z8
High estimate: RM1.67M (US$400,000)
Steven Jobs wasn’t a well-known “car guy,” but he did have good taste, especially when it came to German engineering: Jobs owned several BMW motorcycles and a Mercedes-Benz SL.
He also owned this: The 85th Z8 BMW made for the US market under unique specifications that included a titanium finish and black-leather interior.
Jobs sold the car in 2003. It has since had only two owners and its total mileage is just 15,200 miles.
Steve Jobs’ BMW (above) is listed in prime mint condition. It comes with the original hardtop, car cover, and owners manuals - plus this BMW-branded Motorola flip-phone that early buyers received when they picked up the car. Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc., evidently didn’t have much use for it.
7.1948 Cadillac Series 62 Cabriolet by Saoutchik
High estimate: RM4.19M (US$1 Million)
Carrosserie J. Saoutchik was one of France’s greatest coach-builders during the early postwar years. He was renowned for bold style. This car, one of the third-generation Cadillac Series 62s, was his best creation.
It came with a 160hp, V8 engine and three-speed manual transmission. It is detailed with “sombrero” wheel covers, massive amounts of chrome, and a purple-and-black two-tone interior.
“The Ritter Saoutchik represents audacious French coach-building at its absolute peak,” RM Sotheby’s says. It is one of two ever built.
8. 1973 De Tomaso Pantera L by Ghia
High estimate: RM943,205 (US$175,000)
Working with his buddy, Argentine racing driver Alejandro de Tomaso, Ford Motor Co. president Lee Iacocca helped develop this very 1970s-type car. It’s a mid-engine supercar that was built in Italy but sold mostly at Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the US. It came with an American-made V8 engine but with such European components as brakes and rack-and-pinion steering.
This example comes with original Arriva tires, a factory tool kit, original books and manuals, spare tyre, air canister, and luggage tray. Not to mention fewer than 13,000 miles.
9. 1992 Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione
High estimate: RM733,651 (US$225,000)
This is the Lancia Delta HF Integrale Evoluzione version, which was produced by the Italian automaker for only three generations, starting in 1979.
It’s iconic because it soon dominated World Rally Championship races, especially in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. This is a road-going version of the race car - a special-edition model at that, called a “Giallo Ferrari” edition. Only 400 of this kind were made.
It’s a four-wheel-drive, four-door hatchback that came with a boxy body, thin pillars, and wide side windows, plus rectangular auxiliary driving lights that made it unmistakable, even at night. These days, you can find plenty of them online - Lancia made nearly 50,000 of them worldwide, after all - for a variety of prices from US$23,000 to US$130,000. Only a special one like this has the right racing credentials, low miles, and pristine original condition to command such a high price: “The difference between this outstanding and original example and others cannot be overemphasized,” is how the Sotheby’s auction catalogue put it.
10. 2016 Ferrari F12tdf
High estimate: RM5.87M (US$1.4 million)
The TDF stands for “Tour de France,” after a historic car race on the streets in Italy. Ferrari won it seven times in the 1950s and ‘60s. This car is a tribute to that success, with a 6.3-litre V12 engine and 770hp, plus 520 pound-feet of torque. Only 799 of them were made, at a price of US$490,000 each.
This one has the signature Ferrari interior with alcantara and leather lining, yellow racing-style gauges, and orange stitching and trim throughout. It can hit 62mph in 2.9 seconds.