AUCTION ACTION

What's hot on the block this month...

ANDY ENRIGHT

1974 HDT Torana SL/R 5000

Okay, so it didn’t sell, but seeing this Torana come across the block at Motorclassica in Melbourne set a few hearts fluttering. While the asking price might have raised a few eyebrows, this vehicle was billed as having been campaigned by Peter Brock and Colin Bond. So why didn’t it find a new owner? The auction as a whole had a modest 52 percent sell rate on its 44 lots, and there was some discussion about exactly how much of this Torana was 'original' – always a tough thing to verify on race cars that have parts and panels chopped in and out. We've got no dog in that fight so let the bidders decide.

ESTIMATE A$295-$365,000 WHERE THEODORE BRUCE, MELBOURNE

1996 Subaru Impreza

WRC 97

Subaru Imprezas aren't the standard Unique Cars fare, but even the most rusted-on Aussi V8 fan can appreciate the historical significance of this vehicle, even if he wouldn’t be seen dead in a farting fag packet. This car, Chassis 001, was the first of the two-door rally Imprezas campaigned by Prodrive and was developed by the late Colin McRae. It made its competition debut at the 1997 Rally Monte Carlo and Piero Latti claimed victory, helping Subaru win a third consecutive manufacturers’ title. Prior to a full resto, Valentino Rossi also raced this car at the Rally di Monza.

SOLD! A$328,000 WHERE H&H, DUXFORD, UK

1961 Borgward Isabella

Coupe

From the brash to the beautiful, the Borgward Isabella is probably the crowning achievement of what was, in 1957, Germany’s second largest car manufacturer. Despite the commercial success, Carl Borgward had a hands-on approach to his cars, quite literally, sculpting the body designs in clay in his own garage.

This refusal to delegate was at first the company’s strength and then became a significant weakness, and just four years later the company financially imploded in a spectacular fashion. The badge now appears on forgettable Chinese SUVs, but this gorgeous and virtually hand-built Isabella Coupe looks great value.

SOLD! A$17,250 WHERE MOSSGREEN, MELBOURNE

1973 Ferrari Dino 246GT

Estimating between $525,000 and $575,000 for this cracking little Dino was understandable given that three months ago one sold for $522,000 at the Shannons sale in Sydney, but we’ve seen clear signs that buyers are being a bit more careful with their money, the banks getting a little twitchy around interest rates of late. Interest dried up here at $450,000 and if I was sitting on a tidy Dino, I’d be looking to shuffle it onto somebody who still thinks that 246 GTs are a licence to print money. This car was a very tidy example with new paint and original Nero leather, one of only 488 right-hand drive examples.

SOLD! A$450,000 WHERE THEODORE BRUCE, MELBOURNE

1967 Volvo P1800 S

Like the look of Borgward’s Isabella but not quite feeling brave enough to take the plunge on something quite so specialist? Then Volvo’s sleek Frua-designed P1800 coupe could be just the ticket. Prices have remained broadly sensible for such an iconic shape and they drive well too, powered by a 1782cc OHV four-cylinder lump spinning up a four-speed box. A UK car for all its life, this example has had just three owners in its 48 years and was sold with a fat history file with the interior showing signs of use. Those depressed at the prices of elegant '60s coupes should find solace here.

SOLD! A$32,000 WHERE H&H, DUXFORD, UK

1960 Turner Mk II

While MG, Triumph, Lotus and Healey are all household names Turner is one likely to elicit a look of blank incomprehension, even in the UK. A builder of both kit and turn-key cars based in Wolverhampton, company founder Jack Turner realised an export demand for inexpensive roadsters, the majority of which went to South Africa and the US. This 1098cc car with a Triumph Herald front end has enjoyed a full restoration that likely cost more than the eventual auction sale price. Luck clearly was never with Turner. as funds dried up in 1966 and old Jack then suffered a heart attack.

SOLD! A$32,600 WHERE H&H, DUXFORD, UK

ON THE BLOCK 1985 BMW M635 CSi

Phil Walker has been running his eye over the E24 6 Series in his ‘Phil’s Picks’ corner of this magazine, but I think we’ve got him comfortably covered here. This no reserve M635 CSi was originally a UK car but now resides in sunny Sydney. Launched at the 1983 Frankfurt Show, the M635 CSi got the punchy 24-valve M88 straight six as found in the mid-engined M1, with the exception of having wet sump lubrication, a higher 10.5:1 compression ratio and Bosch ML-Jetronic fuel injection.

With a close-ratio Getrag five-speed gearbox and a ZF limited slip diff the 286hp M635 CSi would hit 100km/h in just six seconds on the way to 250km/h. Germany’s secret supercar?

You’re looking at it right here.

Shannons, Sydney, November 9th.

1993 Alfa Romeo RZ

Is this the most hideous looking car launched in the 25 years? Right now I’m struggling to think of something more ungainly.

SsangYong Rodius? Pontiac Aztek? It’s a toss-up. Finished in yellow, this RZ’s Lego brick styling lacks the curves of its hardtop SZ sibling, merely highlighting Zagato’s brutalist lines. It’s rarer too, with only 278 of the open cars built, compared to over 1000 coupes. That said, the RZ is a fun steer, and although the chassis is about as rigid as a Tony Abbott election pledge, dropping the roof fills the cabin with the howl of that lovely 210hp 3.0-litre V6.

SOLD! A$101,000 WHERE RMA, LONDON

1972 Plymouth Road Runner

There are downsides to living in America such as the fact that 70 per cent of your diet will consist of cheese, that a woman with a penis on a manslaughter charge is held up as a positive role model and that a satirical online article about Dick van Dyke admitting to being the Zodiac Killer was taken seriously by law enforcement agencies. I think I could put up with all of that for access to a vast welter of cheap-aschips muscle cars like this ’72 Plymouth Road Runner 440ci.

No it’s not particularly rare, nor historically significant.

It’s just big, cheap and slightly less cheesy than average.

SOLD! A$24,800 WHERE MECUM, CHICAGO

2001 Hennessey

Venom 650R

John Hennessey divides opinion, with some claiming he’s a charlatan and others proclaiming him a genius but I can’t fault the chap’s hospitality, having turned up on spec at his Texas hangar once and being treated to the full tour and a drive in one of these Venom 650Rs.

‘Drive’ might not be the most accurate word. Clinging on desperately and sweating out of my eyeballs while the car went in many directions, not one of them aligned to its propshaft would be more representative.

For something utterly overengined, the 656hp 8.0-litre V10 Venom is hard to better at any price and reprises the spirit of the '70s Yank muscle tank.

SOLD! A$56,500 WHERE MECUM, CHICAGO

1973 Ferves Ranger

Ferves? You might well ask. It stands for FERrari VEicoli Speciali (Ferrari Special Vehicles) and just 50 of these beautiful little off-roaders are thought to survive. Built between 1966 and 1971, the Ranger poached a Fiat 500 rearmounted 18hp engine and Fiat 600 all-independent suspension. With all-wheel drive and hilariously low off-road gearing, the Ranger also featured a folding windscreen and removable doors, making it one of the cutest mud-pluggers around.

This example was previously owned by design legend Philippe Starck.

SOLD! A$61,700 WHERE RMA, LONDON