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IN THE NEWS: Mercedes-Benz Entering Pickup Market

March 27, 2015

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Before the end of the decade, Mercedes-Benz will expand its product range into a promising segment by launching the first pickup from a premium manufacturer. Thanks to their versatility, all-round utility, and payload of around one metric ton, pickups are popular across the world and thus have good sales potential.

“The Mercedes-Benz pickup will contribute nicely to our global growth targets,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Division. “We will enter this segment with our distinctive brand identity and all of the vehicle attributes that are typical of the brand with regard to safety, comfort, powertrains, and value.”

Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, adds: “As part of our ‘Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global’ strategy, the pickup is the ideal vehicle for the international expansion of our product range with a newly developed model.”

A promising segment with global scope

The midsize pickup segment is currently undergoing a transformation worldwide. More and more pickups are being used for private purposes, and commercial as well as private users are increasingly asking for vehicles that have car-like specifications.

Mercedes-Benz is the first premium manufacturer to respond to this market shift by developing its own pickup. A similar example was the successful introduction of the M-Class around 20 years ago. As the first sport utility vehicle (SUV) from a premium manufacturer, the M-Class completely redefined the segment.

The new Mercedes-Benz pickup will initially be targeted at markets in Latin America, South Africa, Australia, and Europe, all of which are posting sustained growth in this segment.

Mercedes-Benz Vans: Centre of competence for commercially and privately used vehicles

The Mercedes-Benz Vans division is responsible for the new vehicle. With its many years of experience in developing, manufacturing, and marketing vehicles that are used commercially as well as privately, Mercedes-Benz Vans is ideally suited to enter the midsize pickup segment and launch a Mercedes-Benz pickup on the market for the first time in the company’s history. Current models such as the V-Class and the Vito demonstrate that Mercedes-Benz Vans has the high level of expertise to successfully serve customers from a wide variety of private and commercial sectors.

“We can perfectly serve customers looking for a vehicle that offers a high level of utility and at the same time has the comfort, safety, and design of a Mercedes-Benz passenger car,” says Mornhinweg. “We will design our brand’s first pickup according to this recipe for success.”

ON THE BLOCK: The $1,000,000 Fort Lauderdale Challenge

March 26, 2015

After a successful haul in our $2,000,000 Amelia Island Challenge, we’re heading south to the Auctions America sale in Fort Lauderdale.  Our Petrolhead Godmother continues with her generosity; this time with $1,000,000 to play with this weekend. Using Auction America’s HIGH estimate, choose one or choose several cars (no motorbikes or automobilia) that you would like to bring home. We’ll get started:

Lot 108 — 1973 Peugeot 504 Cabriolet
Estimate $30,000
UPDATE: STILL FOR SALE
Lot_108-1973_Peugeot_504_Cabriolet

Featured in a Pick Of The Day last year, this is an presentable example of a car rarely seen on these shores. While it shows signs of wear and previous body repairs, this Peugeot 504 has had recent paint and is a complete example of a classic Pininfarina styling.

Lot 177 — 1978 Aston Martin V8 Volante
Estimate $150,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $151,250 including premium
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Not much information is in the catalog beyond the history of the V8 as a model, but this looks to be a rather tidy example, complete with books and tools. Although it is an automatic, it would still make for some very pleasant open touring.

Lot 226 — 1989 Porsche 911 Turbo (930)
Estimate $85,000
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Although we aren’t given an odometer reading other than its condition belies the miles, this looks to be an excellent original example of a one-year-only 5-speed 930. Its high estimate would appear to be a bargain relative to other 1989s in like condition (not to mention the 1976 model that runs earlier in the day, estimated at $200,000).

Lot 317 — 1935 Ford Model A “Ratrod’ Pickup
Estimate $40,000
UPDATE: STILL FOR SALE
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This is another one of those lots that we’d chase only when Petrolhead Godmother is footing the bill, but that said, it is dandy. Powered by a 350 V8, its steel body has been chopped, stanced, channeled and dropped. Period wheels and tires cover front disc brakes. A very nicely built blend of bootleg-era looks and contemporary performance.

Lot 356 — 1949 Cadillac Series 61 Club Coupe Sedanette
Estimate $65,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $55,000 including premium
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The C-Body Cadillacs of 1948 and 1949 brought together big advances in engineering with the overhead-valve V8 and alluring looks. Here we see the first nubs of Harley Earl’s tailfins punctuating a sleek and graceful body, particularly in the fastback “Sedanette” form. This one form 1949 was a former barn find restored to its current condition with a rebuilt original drivetrain. It’s a positively gorgeous American cruiser that is said to drive quite well.

Lot 472 — 1981 Renault R5 Turbo
Estimate $75,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $49,500 including premium
Lot_472-1981_Renault_R5_Turbo

The Renault R5 Turbo is in many ways an answer to a question no-one was asking. It’s a completely insane answer, yet it makes perfect sense at the same time. Take a pedestrian Renault R5 (what we might remember as Le Car) and transform it into a mid-engined beast that eats supercars for breakfast. This example looks to have been restored at some point to what appears to be a high degree, yet appears to have been used as intended which is to drive the merde out of it. What’s not to love?

Lot 486 — 1989 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary
Estimate $425,000
UPDATE: STILL FOR SALE
Lot_486-Lamborghini_Countach_25th

Petrolhead Godmother always says, “if you get thrown from a bull, get right back on.” We missed out on the Lamborghini Countach 5000S Quattrovalvole at Gooding and Company’s Amelia Island sale earlier this month, thus we’re somewhat compelled to try again. This time it’s the ultimate expression of the Countach, the coveted 25th Anniversary model. This one shows beautifully in its classic Italian combination of red on tan. With a recent service and less than 21,000 km, it promises to be appropriately raging.

Lot 622 — 1948 MG TC
Estimate $52,000
UPDATE: STILL FOR SALE high bid $37,500
Lot_622-1948_MG-TC_Roadster

Few capture the charm of early British motoring the way an MG TC does. Future TDs and TFs were already becoming too modern. This one from 1948 has been used sparingly since undergoing an older high quality restoration. It condition remains show worthy, but this little thing begs to be thrown on the open road, only stopping for a picnic. The Clipper Blue finish is a nice departure as well.

We came to a total of $922,000. Buyer’s premiums will put us slightly over the million dollar mark, but once again we’ll err on the side of excess when spending the Petrolhead Godmother’s money. Let us know what your picks are in comments.

For the complete Auctions America Fort Lauderdale 2015 catalog click here.

IN THE GARAGE: 1971 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

March 19, 2015

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VIN 228871N125628
Exterior [11] Cameo White
Interior [211] Blue Knit Vinyl
Motor [LS5] 455 c.i. (7.5 L) V8 rated at net 310 bhp (335 gross)
Gearbox [M40] 3-Speed Automatic
Exterior Condition Very Good (2)
Interior Condition Excellent (2+)
Drivetrain Excellent (2+ )
Tires/wheels Excellent (2+)

AS ONE ERA ENDS, ANOTHER TAKES FLIGHT. Although it never had the opportunity to compete in its namesake racing series, the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am brought the manners which made for a successful road-course car to the highways and byways. With an emphasis toward greater downforce, the Trans Am favored handling over the straight-line speed that dominated the end of the muscle car era. At the time of its mid-1969 introduction, the horsepower wars were at their peak. Pontiac was well in the mix with the Ram Air 400s, but the writing was already on the wall. Federal safety and emissions regulations were looming, taking most of the muscle out of the muscle-car era.  Rather than abandon a market still coveting V8 performance, Pontiac compensated for a lower compression ratio—brought on by unleaded fuel requirements—through more cubic inches and improved breathing. For 1971, they introduced the 455 HO to the second-generation Trans Am. Though its gross horsepower was still shy of the Ram Air 400, the 455 HO—combined with the TA’s aero kit—was, as Pontiac Engineers called it, “the beginning of tomorrow.” Prophetic words, as the Trans Am lived on into the next millennium, finally ending its run in 2002.

This 1971 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (No 25628) is an extraordinary original example, benefiting from only two passionate owners; the second and current owner having owned the car for 38 years. Throughout that time it has garnered awards and even achieved a moment of stardom in the Paramount Pictures comedy Anchorman 2. Yes, it’s kind of a big deal. The car has excellent documentation with a complete PHS report as well as owners manual, sales brochure, and print ad. With over 95,000 miles on the clock, it’s no garage queen. Having said that, it has always been garaged and currently resides in a state-of-the-art collector car storehouse. The attention to preservation and detail radiates in every aspect:

EXTERIOR is excellent with a straight, absolutely rust-free body. Its Cameo White paint shines, glass-smooth and completely original, with no repaint, no respray, and no touch-up. Ever. It wears a few minor pits and chips on its chin and flares (pictured) as a testament to a long, exceptionally well-cared for, well-preserved life, but otherwise looks admirably unblemished.

INTERIOR is near flawless, showing very little wear to its Blue Knit vinyl upholstery. Only the padding of the center console shows some cracking, but again, it is what the car was born with. No cracks in the dash, no scuffs in vinyl, and no snags in the knit. The Trans Am’s distinctive engine-turned dashboard is brilliant and unmarred. Carpets are fresh and clean with aftermarket floor mats, though the original ones come with the car, as does the original AM/FM radio, which was swapped for a more “modern” cassette unit shortly after it changed hands in 1978. It’s a car that was biased toward performance over creature comforts. Thus, in an effort to “add lightness and simplify,” few other options were checked at the time the car was ordered by the original owner:

FACTORY OPTIONS
A90 Deck Lid Control
B18 Custom Trim Group
B32 Front Floor Mats
B93 Door Edge Guards
D55 Front Console
N41 Variable Ratio Power Steering
P05 Honeycomb Wheels
U69 AM/FM Radio

DRIVETRAIN is exceptionally strong with its smooth running 455 c.i. V8 and, while it lacks the personal connection of the M22 4-speed, the Turbohydramatic 400 is very well mated to the HO’s 480 lb/ft of gross torque. The gearbox shifts surely without any lurching or slips, even when shifting manually. This harmony between motor and transmission elevates the driving experience to a point where a manual is seldom missed. The variable-ratio power steering is positive, with no slop and excellent feedback at higher speeds or under cornering. Because the current owner is a master mechanic, any potential issue was addressed long before it may have affected the life of the drivetrain or any of its vital parts. As such, there’s an integrity to its mechanical performance that feels very much as it might have at delivery.

BRAKING AND SUSPENSION are two of the areas where the second-gen Trans Am set the stage for the aforementioned “beginning of tomorrow.” In addition to the road-holding provided by the aerodynamics, the suspension featured thick anti-sway bars front and rear, as well as heavy duty shocks and a limited-slip differential (Safe-T-Track in Pontiac parlance).  No 25628 currently rides on near-new Goodyear Eagle GTs for added grip and a softer ride, however a set of correct Polyglass F60-15s are available.

With only 2,116 Trans Ams produced in 1971 (1,231 of which came with the TH400 automatic), finding one in any condition is out of the ordinary. Finding one in excellent original condition, well, that is a rare bird. The 1971 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was the bridge that spanned the brute muscle of the ’60s and what would ultimately define the muscle car of the ’70s. A relative bargain priced at $49,950.

IN MY OPINION: A Gear Without a Cog is Still a Gear. But…

March 11, 2015

BY PETER TENGERDY

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Once again, Jeremy Clarkson, presenter and top motormouth of BBC’s Top Gear, has—allegedly—gone over the line. This time, however, he’s been black-flagged indefinitely, pending an investigation. With it, the program that draws some 350 million viewers in 170 countries has been shelved; at least for this weekend and, with only one other episode remaining, likely the season. Whether or not it’s true that he punched a producer over a disagreement about his supper is beside the point. Just as it is beside the point whether he mumbled a racial slur in an outtake or riled Argentines with an offensive number plate on purpose, etc., etc. Top Gear’s success is due in no small part because it goes over the line. The antics and often sophomoric behavior are precisely what set it apart from a typical petrolhead show. Much of that is what Mr. Clarkson brings to the mix. One needn’t look any further than the knock-offs and geographic franchises to see that the Clarkson-Hammond-May symbiosis is the one that works. Remove any one and it suffers, but—no disrespect to Mr. Hammond and Mr. May—remove Mr. Clarkson and it becomes another imitation of itself. It is the purity of his journalism combined with his buffoonery that the BBC shells out over £1 million for every year in order for audiences to tune in and grow. The Save Clarkson petition that began circulating immediately after news of the “fracas” broke is evidence that he has built a messiah-like following. It is without question a case of getting what they asked for. Having said that, we’ve all too often seen where that sense of entitlement becomes an abuse of power and the BBC is well within their imminent rights and ethical tenets to reign that in or cut it loose.

The obvious question then is what happens next. Pending the outcome of this latest investigation, if Mr. Clarkson is found not to be at fault, it’s business as usual and the corporate suits return to the edge of their seats to see what he may do next. In the case of at-fault, a simple reprimand would be virtually the same, essentially condoning questionable behavior in exchange for ratings. The supposed tension that has been afoot for the past few years proceeds as the price of success. If however, the BBC carries through with their “one more slip…” threat from the last incident, Top Gear’s future is precarious at best. There simply isn’t anyone who could fill the void of that missing cog. Tiff Needell (@tiff_tv) could return, but in all honesty he has built a better imitation with Fifth Gear than the imitation of “another” Top Gear. Chris Harris (@harrismonkey) may be the best presenter on the Internet and has the boy-loves-car character that is shared with Mr. Clarkson, but it would be more engaging to watch him smoke the tires off a McLaren P1 than ride through Viet Nam with a colander on his head. Maybe. The point is, it too would be an imitation of itself or worse, just another car show.

The simple reality is that television shows come to an end, no matter how good or successful: Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, Seinfeld, and anything by Aaron Sorkin. In this case, the end came abruptly and loyal viewers will be denied the last part of the current season. At least for now. The BBC will be just fine. Mr. Hammond, Mr. May and yes, Mr. Clarkson will be as well. Perhaps he’ll find a lucrative home on the Internet or satellite radio. Or there’s always a judge spot on Britain’s Got Talent.

IN HONORARIUM: BMW Motorsport Marks 40th Anniversary of First US Win

March 11, 2015

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Woodcliff Lake, N.J. – March 10, 2015 … BMW of North America will mark the 40th anniversary of two key milestones in the company’s history in the United States at the 20th-annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island, March 12-15, 2015. Forty years ago, BMW of North America began operating as a subsidiary of BMW AG, and only days later, BMW Motorsport scored its first US victory at the 1975 12 Hours of Sebring.

Also to be celebrated at the Concours is the legendary BMW 328, which helped establish the company’s decades-long racing heritage. BMW of North America and BMW Group Classic have helped gather a group of significant BMW 328 models, including the 328 Touring Mille Miglia Coupe that pioneered lightweight construction techniques and advanced aerodynamics, and won the 1940 Mille Miglia endurance race. A sure highlight will be the BMW 328 in which Sir Stirling Moss, once again the Concours’ honoree, won his first professional race, circa 1947.

BMW of North America will publicly launch its 40th Anniversary celebration with “Cars & Coffee at the Concours” on Saturday, March 14, where it will unveil the special BMW 3.0 CSL-inspired livery for the current Z4 GTLM cars that will race in the 2015 edition of the 12 Hours of Sebring, on March 21st. BMW ace driver Bill Auberlen and 1975 12 Hours of Sebring winners Brian Redman, Sam Posey, and Hans Stuck will be on-hand for the unveiling. Also on-hand will be original BMW Motorsport Director Jochen Neerpasch, and the complete BMW Motorsport crew from the 1975 IMSA Camel GT effort.

BMW will bring a number of BMW USA Classic vehicles to display at the event:

  • On the show field, BMW will display the 1975 25 BMW 3.0 CSL that received Best in Class honors at the 2014 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and was part of the team that won the 24 Hours of Sebring in 1975, paired with the current No. 25 BMW Z4 GTLM Tudor United Sports Car Championship race car.
  • In addition to the Mille Miglia-winning 328 Touring Coupe, BMW Group Classic will display a 1973 street version the BMW 3.0 CSL that was developed for homologation, as well as the 1980 BMW M1, the first street car developed by BMW Motorsport (also for racing homologation).
  • The then-new BMW Z3 Roadster used in the filming of the James Bond film “Goldeneye” 20 years ago will also be featured. Since BMW is a company whose legacy rides on two wheels as well as four, a BMW R69 motorcycle will also be featured.

While honoring its past, BMW resolutely looks to the future. Also on display through the weekend will be newly-updated, 2016 BMW 6 Series Convertible and all-new 2016 BMW X6 M, along with the 2015 BMW i8, the company’s award-winning plug-in hybrid sports car.

ON THE BLOCK: The $2,000,000 Amelia Island Challenge

March 10, 2015

If you’ve watched or participated in any of the /DRIVE eBay challenges on YouTube, you know how this works. In this case, your Petrolhead Godmother just plopped $2,000,000 USD in your lap to spend as you like at this weekend’s auctions during the Amelia Island Concours d”Elegance. Using the auction companies’ HIGH estimates, pick one or pick several cars (no motorbikes or automobilia) that you would like to haul home. We’ll get started:

From Bonhams – Thursday, March 12

Lot 118 — 1962 Austin Healey 3000 MK II BT7 2+2
Estimate $50,000-$60,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $51,700 including premium
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In recent years, Big Healeys have gone through a bit of a downturn after a sharp rise in the mid- to late-2000s. Within the last year or so, the market has caught up. It appears now to have made the corrections and adjustments such that they’re realistically priced, vis à vis a Series 1 E-Type on one end of the spectrum and say an MGB at the other. Among the Austin Healey 3000 MKs, many find the middle-gen MK II the most appealing, particularly in the 2+2 BT7 configuration. The MK II had the shortest production run and was an ideal bridge between the rawness of the MK I’s triple carburetors, along with a classic oval dash, and the MK III’s refinements (roll-up windows and a wraparound windscreen). This example radiates its British Roadster-ness, with the Old English White paint over Red interior. It is said to have had a thorough restoration in the late 2000s (just as the market flattened) and reports to be an excellent performer with a strong motor and 4-speed overdrive gearbox. Bonhams estimate of $50-60K is right on the money.

Lot 168 — 1912 Peerless Model 60 Runabout
Estimate $250,000-$350,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $440,000 including premium
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It may be the type of car that we pursue only when someone dumps $2M in our laps (or we have a discretionary $350,000 laying around), but given such an event, a Peerless Runabout would certainly be one to go after. Among its superlatives are first to offer electric headlamps, first to offer an electric starter, and, in the case of the Model 60 presented here, most cubic inches ever stuffed under an American-made hood (824). The Peerless Model 60 was arguably the fastest thing on the road in the Brass Era. This example was resto-mod’ed in the ‘60s. In that process, some liberties were taken to improve the car’s drivability. These include a shortened chassis, as well as modified steering and brakes, along with coachwork enhancements that give it the Runabout appearance of a 45-hp Model 32 whilst retaining the 66-hp 13.5-liter lump. So while not original, it is a gorgeous representation of motoring’s earliest days and carries with it some notable provenance.

From Gooding and Company – Friday, March 13

Lot 021 — 1977 Ferrari 308 GTB Vetroresina
Estimate $175,000-$225,000
UPDATE SOLD FOR $192,500 including premium
1977_Ferrari_308GTB

Less than a decade ago, the predecessor of the iconic Ferrari 308 GTB, the 246 GT, wasn’t even considered a real Ferrari, with its “entry-level” Dino badging. Ever since, many of us have sat by helpless as their values have increased ten-fold in that time. As those at the very highest echelons of automotive investing have often pondered what the next 250 GTO might be (the answer: the 250 GTO is the next 250 GTO), the broader masses are wondering whether the 308 will follow its progenitor toward the half-million dollar mark. This isn’t a science and there are no formulas and even less guarantees, but it does stand to reason. Specifically, the first to get there would likely be one of the early lightweight 308 GTBs, whose bodies were made of GRP fiberglass, or vetroresina. Only 712 were made before other weight savings allowed for steel bodies that were close to the Vetroresina’s overall weight. At last summer’s Silverstone Classic, a steel bodied, targa-roof, wet-sump 1979 308 GTS set a world record at £82,225 (around $124,500 USD). A much rarer glass GTB should do considerably better. Offered without Reserve.

Lot 24 — 1987 Lamborghini Contact 5000 QV
Estimate $425,000-$475,000
UPDATE: HIGH BID $375,000
1987_Lambo_Countach

With early examples of the Lamborghini LP 400 Countach “Periscopa” now fetching seven figures, logic would have it that later generations will follow suit, at least to some degree. The most likely candidate would be the 25th Anniversary editions of 1988, but on the heels of those would be the 48-valve Countach 5000 QV (quattrovalvole). Only 610 of these bulls were built. This one looks to be especially unique in its Pearl White finish and Ivory interior. Furthermore, most of them were ordered with the optional rear wing whereas the owner of this one (who owned it until 2014) opted to retain the original lines of the LP 400, complemented by swapping the gruesome US-mandated bumpers with the svelte ones it was designed to have. With a fresh service, it is described in “as new” mechanical condition. The quintessential bedroom poster car of the ’80s, this Countach might be a relative bargain at its high estimate of $475,000.

Lot 024 — 1976 Alpine A110
Estimate $100,000-$140,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $88,000 including premium
1976_Alpine_A110

When the name Alpine is mentioned in automotive circles, the vast majority of people—at least those of us in the US—think of car stereos. Even among enthusiasts, many consider Alpine—the car—to be a Renault sports/GT. Alpine (pronounced AL-peen-UH), however was an independent manufacturer that outfitted their chassis and fiberglass bodies with, primarily, Renault drivetrains until being bought out by Renault in 1973. Shortly thereafter, Alpine Renault gained notoriety in motorsport by winning the inaugural World Rally Championship with a competition-spec A110. Although they never reached the same level of success in competition, the rally inspiration carried through until the end of the A110’s run in 1977 (replaced by the edgier A310). This included the French Racing Blue livery, racing seats and auxiliary lights. This example comes from its penultimate year and is equipped exactly as such. On a purely objective basis, the Alpine A110 can be seen as a poor man’s Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera RS. What it lacks in raw horsepower, it makes up for with its uniqueness and French charm. Okay, maybe not entirely but it is a lightweight rear-engined production car-turned motorsport-turned production car for about half the cost of the RS Carrera. And, should the Nissan GTR-based Alpine A110-50 come to be, there could be a new appreciation for a distinguished brand. Offered without Reserve.

Lot 034 — 1934 Packard Eight 1101 Coupé Roadster
Estimate $180,000-$220,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $143,000 including premium
1934_Packard_Eight

The Packard Eight was the right car at the wrong time. The absolute worst time. By the time of the 11th Series (Packard did not follow model-year convention) at the end of 1933, the US was just beginning to emerge—but still deeply in—the Great Depression. The American consumer was struggling to buy bread and while there was plenty of wealth at the opposite end of the scale, those customers had much more exclusive Duesenbergs and Rolls-Royces to consider. Those in the middle that could afford a new car were flocking to the Ford V8, costing more than five times less (granted, far less creature comforts as well). The Packard Eight simply couldn’t find a significant market. For this reason alone, it deserves a place in a collection today. This 1101 Coupé Roadster (complete with rumble seat) remains remarkably original, never in need of total restoration, though it did have some high-quality reconditioning at various times in its life. It has a known owner history and has been exceptionally cared for. At roughly 10% of comparable Duesie or Rolls money, this Packard Eight is a delightful example of ’30s luxury. Offered without reserve.

From RM Sotheby’s – Saturday, March 14

Lot 126 – 1934 Bentley 312-Litre Drophead Coupé
Estimate $275,000-$375,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $231,000 including premium
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While Packard and Duesenberg represented what an American car should be in 1934, Rolls-Royce and the then recently acquired Bentley Motors represented the peak of the European automotive landscape (much as they do today). Where the Packard was about comfort, strength, durability, and sheer mass, the Bentley was, as E.W. Hives, the 312-Litre’s principal designer in Derby put it, “to be driven fast with safety or will tour without fuss and noise.” While any Derby Bentley is special, this particular 312-Litre is that much more so for being largely bespoke for its initial owner, a Mr. M.S. Spencer-Naim. Mr. Naim ordered a three-position cabriolet body to be built by Thrupp and Maberly, as well as a unique speedometer-clock cluster and shortened steering column and gear lever. After serving in WWII, Mr. Naim returned to growing family and regrettably sold Chassis B75BL to R.E. Merchant who was its steward until 1984, when it was sold to Howard Brown of California. Mr. Brown intended to do a bare-metal repaint, but sadly died before it was complete. Mr. Brown’s wife sold it to its current owner who completed the repaint, along with new carpets, replaced wood and new wheel discs. With only four passionate owners, it’s no surprise that it retains an extraordinary documented history, including log books, build sheets and the original owner’s handbook that have been issued by Bentley Motor Cars, and the service file, which dates back to 1953. This is a car that lends itself perfectly to historic tours and/or concours, from club events to the international stage. For roughly new Continental GTC Speed money, this Bentley has million dollar looks and a priceless history.

Lot 197 — 1952 Mercedes-Benz 220 Cabriolet A
Estimate $150,000-$200,000
UPDATE: SOLD FOR $286,000 including premium
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On its own, this is a stunning example of a rare pre-SL Mercedes-Benz sports-tourer. Although not a pure sports car legend like the 300 SL Roadster, production numbers are significantly lower for the 220 Cabriolet A (the ‘A’ being two seats plus a “kinder,” whilst the ‘B’ had a full four seats). Only 1,278 were sold (vs. 1,858 SL Roadsters). Its 2.2-litre inline six, with its innovative “oversquare” architecture (shorter stroke than bore dimension), was to become a stalwart Mercedes-Benz power plant well into the ’70s while its rich leathers, carpeting and wood never allow its occupants to forget that they are in a Mercedes-Benz. With only 20 miles since an older restoration, this one looks as new with exceptional paint and fresh interior. The custom fitted luggage and Telefunken radio are also a nice touch. By itself, easily worth the $200,000 high estimate, but as a complement to the Bentley we bought earlier (Lot 126), it is an absolute must-have.

Our spree totals $2,045,000. Yes, its over, but we’ll err on the side of excess when spending the Petrolhead Godmother’s money. Let us know what your picks are in comments.

Update: March 15, 2015 – Out three-auction, three-day total came to $1,432,200. This leaves us with over $500,000 to close a deal on the 1988 Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV, the only no-sale of our picks. At the end of bidding, auctioneer Charlie Ross announced that its high bid of $375,000 was “very close.”

Bargain of the Day honors, if one can call them that, belong to our Bentley 31⁄2-Litre which sold below its catalogue estimate for $231,000 including premium.

Bonhams
bonhams
http://goo.gl/mgucJd

Gooding and Company
gooding
http://goo.gl/dTUh7Y

RM Auctions | Sotheby’s
RM
http://goo.gl/S9PprM

IN THE NEWS: Long-Awaited Porsche 911 GT3 RS Premiers in Geneva

March 3, 2015

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Atlanta. The new Porsche 911 GT3 RS breaks down the barrier between road-going sports cars and race cars. It is equipped with the maximum amount of motorsport technology that is currently possible in a street-legal 911 suitable for everyday driving. Extensive modifications to its drivetrain, aerodynamics, and lightweight design take performance to an even higher level than the 911 GT3. With a Nuerburgring Nordschleife lap time of seven minutes and 20 seconds, the new 911 GT3 RS surpasses the 911 GT3 by five seconds, making it the fastest current generation 911 on the famous German racetrack. The 911 GT3 RS is celebrating its world premiere at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show.

Motorsport expertise is the driving force behind this superior performance. The 911 GT3 RS is powered by a four-liter six-cylinder engine developing 500 hp and 338 lb.-ft. of torque, combined with a specially developed PDK transmission. The engine has the largest displacement and most power of any naturally aspirated engine with direct fuel injection in the 911 family, accelerating the high-performance sports car from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.1 seconds and propelling it through the quarter mile on the track in 11.2 seconds. Functions such as declutching by “paddle neutral” – which is comparable to pressing the clutch with a conventional manual gearbox – and speed limiting via the Pit Speed button have been adapted from motorsport use. They give drivers more freedom in terms of driving dynamics, while providing them with a maximum level of control and engagement.

The 911 GT3 RS is a masterpiece of intelligent lightweight design. For the first time, the roof is made of magnesium; carbon fiber is used for the engine and luggage compartment lids, and other components are made of weight saving materials. This makes the RS model around 22 pounds (10 kilograms) lighter than the 911 GT3. Furthermore, the lightweight roof lowers the sports car’s center of gravity which improves its already excellent lateral dynamics. The body comes from the 911 Turbo, and it signifies its status as a race-inspired driving machine with its RS-specific aerodynamic enhancements. The front spoiler lip, which sits close to the ground, and the large rear wing reinforce its dominant look.

A 30 centimeter wide recess extends centrally over the CFRP hood and the magnesium roof. This feature is a stylistic reference to the recess on the luggage compartment lid of the classic 911 models with air-cooled engines, while highlighting the two largest lightweight components of the new 911 GT3 RS. Another characteristic is the unique front wheel arch air vents that extend into the upper section of the fenders – just like on purebred race cars. They increase downforce at the front axle.

The chassis of the 911 GT3 RS has been tuned for maximum driving dynamics and precision. Rear-axle steering and Porsche Torque Vectoring Plus with fully variable rear axle differential lock increases agility and dynamics, and the wider track in front and at the rear reduces body roll even further than in the 911 GT3.  In addition, the 911 GT3 RS comes with the widest tires of any 911 model. The results: even more agile turn-in characteristics, even sharper steering response, and even greater cornering speeds.

The interior design of the 911 GT3 RS with Alcantara® elements is based on the current 911 GT3. One key new feature is the full bucket seats, which are based on the carbon bucket seats from the 918 Spyder. The optional Sport Chrono Package features – in addition to its integrated timers – the Porsche Track Precision app for smartphone use. The Track Precision app can be used to have times automatically measured via GPS, and to log data on a smartphone for many driving parameters such as vehicle speed, lateral acceleration as well as deceleration and acceleration in the driving direction. It manages this data and lets the driver share and compare it with results from other drivers.

The 911 GT3 RS can be ordered now, and it will launch in the U.S. in early July of 2015. In the United States, the MSRP is $175,900, not including a $995 destination charge.

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