Auction Action What's hot on the block this month...
Quick. How many cars with a 649ci, four cylinder, overhead-cam hemi engine can you think of? I reckon that’d be something that would have Dave Morley, John Wright and Guy Allen all looking blankly at one another. But now you can thrill people in the bar with this fact and explain to them that the American Brass Era 50hp Pungs-Finch Limited Touring would have such a mechanical curiosity under its bonnet, driving through a three-speed manual transmission. No lesser a light than Henry Ford described it as the finest car he had ever seen. Unfortunately Ed Finch and his father-in-law, Bill Pungs couldn’t stand the sight of one another and the production run stalled at one.
While Lamborghini’s name is synonymous with midengined supercars, interest in the company’s earlier frontengined GT cars is picking up.
With a 1967 400 GT fetching $745,000 at Gooding’s recent Pebble Beach auction, this Islero S – the 400 GT’s natural successor – attracted a good deal of attention.
This matching numbers example is the 54th of the 100 car Islero S production run and features the same 3929cc DOHC V12 engine that would later find its way into the middle of the Countach. The beneficiary of a $100,000 restoration, the eventual hammer fall looked about right.
It’s hard to think of too many cars which look their best in gold metallic, but this Citroen SM wears it well. Values of SMs have fluctuated wildly, reflecting the fact that some cash-strapped owners are now looking to cash in on their neglected money pits. There’s little to touch a tidy SM for presence and style though, and this example has been treated to a recent resto of its Maserati V6 engine, transmission, brakes, and – most importantly – its hydraulic components, including the suspension and variable-assist steering system.
GOODINGS, PEBBLE BEACH
Your monthly dose of esoterica just arrived in the shape of this 1997 Delta HF Evo HPE Turbo. You’re right. It doesn’t look much like the Lancia Delta you’re familiar with and for good reason. It’s the successor to the iconic box-arch Integrale generation and this one was up for auction at Jody Scheckter’s buffalo farm in the Hampshire countryside. With a similar 2.0-litre 190bhp engine as fitted to Integrale Evos, only 500 of these later Evo cars were ever built. This left-hook example finished in Giallo had a whole lot of leg on the clock (for a Lancia) at 174,000km, but still seemed a bargain.
CCA, LAVERSTOKE, UK
When it comes to compiling lists of the most beautiful BMWs ever built, it’s unlikely that the Z1 will ever feature.
Gawky is about the most accurate way you could describe its styling, maybe pert on a good day. It does, however, possess a pair of the coolest, most overengineered doors anywhere, sliding down into the sills courtesy of some electric motors. After that party trick, the engine and front end from an E30 325i doesn’t seem that flash and for over $50k there are bigger bangs for your buck.
CCA, LAVERSTOKE, UK
It wasn’t too long ago that the 365 GTC/4 was the forgotten Ferrari, the car that never quite caught on. They’re now trading for ten times their mid-’90s prices and with good reason. The shape has aged gracefully and it’s worth remembering that this car is powered by the same quadcam V12 as the Daytona and, with just 505 units produced, is a good deal rarer. Whisper it, but because of those lovely side-mounted Webers, it even sounds a bit fruitier than its illustrious sibling. Small wonder these Pininfarina-penned GTC/4s are starting to make big dollars.
GOODINGS, PEBBLE BEACH
Back before Stutzes became automotive jokes driven by men with gold teeth and pimp canes, they were purveyors of some of America’s finest automobiles. This 1916 Bearcat was priced at $2000, approximately four times the cost of a Ford Model T.
This car features the original proprietary 6.4-litre, 60 hp four cylinder Wisconsin engine and Stutz’s own rear three-speed transaxle.
But it wasn’t all raccoon coats and bathtub gin – the Bearcat actually had a pretty respectable competition pedigree too. Australian examples are vanishingly scarce. Here’s a rare opportunity.
Mossgreen Auctions, Melbourne, Oct 18.
How much would you pay for a car that many thousands had seen smeared into an Armco barrier? That fate befell this 427 Cobra at the 2003 Monterey Historics, but it has been since restored in absolutely forensic detail and the asking price of $1.7m reflected the fact. Once owned by UK Touring Car Champ Frank Sytner, this car features the 427 side-oiler and is fitted with the authentic Holley “side-winder” intake and exhaust manifolds, as well as proper carburettors and exhaust pipes.
The original Halibrand wheels are dressed with reassuringly correct BF Goodrich tyres. Its new keeper would probably take objection if you said it looked a million dollars.
If, like our own Uncle Phil, you had an access all areas pass to the auctions at Monterey this year, you might have been wowed by the big numbers of the Pinnacle Portfolio or been tempted by one of any numbers of shiny Corvette Sting Rays, but here at Unique Cars, we’re often drawn to the underdogs. Cars like this Muntz Jet convertible, in fact.
Earl ‘Madman’ Muntz once owned the biggest car dealership in Los Angeles, but rather than just sell cars, he wanted to build them too. With power coming from a 337ci Lincoln flathead V-8 engine, the Jet was briefly a fashionable item but its star soon faded. Shame.
When it comes to punching above their weight, few manufacturers did better than the American Motors Corporation. This relatively small car maker knew it couldn’t level with the Big Three and instead bundled together decent parts like Chrysler TorqueFlite automatic transmissions, Dana rear ends, Motorcraft carbs and Motorola electronics. This Gremlin might look like a prosthetic foot but it got AMC’s best lump, the 258ci six, and is a perfect slice of the 70s with its Canary Yellow with original factory Black Rally Side Stripes, a two-tone interior featuring the optional Bucket Seat and Custom Trim Package and AMC Rally wheels. It's hard not to love it.
I once tried to grow a moustache and the result wasn’t good. I had the Burt Reynolds look in mind but ended up looking like the sort of chap you’d see in an Econoliner with ‘Free Candy’ painted down the side. Next time I get the compunction to Burt it up a bit, a Pontiac Trans Am like this seems a solution far less likely to have me tased if I come within 500m of a children’s playground. This one sold for a mere $17k and featured new paint, exterior decals, interior trim and wheels.
With 403 cubes under the bonnet, it’s a chest wig chariot that revels in its own kitsch.