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Sotheby's Australia Presents An Eclectic Octet At Its "Important Collectors' Motor Cars By Public Tender" Event

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On: Fri, Oct 7, 2011 at 10:15AM | By: Andrew W Davis

Sotheby's Australia Presents An Eclectic Octet At Its "Important Collectors' Motor Cars By Public Tender" Event

As I mentioned in my companion article, things at the Sotheby’s Australia’s Oct. 13-17 “Important Collectors’ Motor Cars” event in Sydney are a little bit different from what most of you are used to, in keeping with the usual way of doing business for this “largest Australian-owned, internationally operated fine art auction house”.

Put simply it’s a “sealed-bid” event wherein bidders “tender” (submit) their maximum offer on each desired lot directly to the auction house which then tallies the entries and notifies the “winner.” In fact, there is no actual auction “event,” and apart from several available “preview” days, there is no “in-person” component to the sale at all. [See my feature on the public tender process itself HERE for more info.]

Though if you think the process is strange, wait until you get a load of the very varied vehicles on offer....

Now I can’t honestly say that there’s something for everyone here as there are “just” eight lots, but with vehicles ranging from a 1923 Rolls-Royce to a 2010 Aston-Martin—with a ’57 Caddy and Brock “Dakar” car thrown in for flavor—I challenge you to say there isn’t at least one of these vehicles you’d be proud to have in your driveway.

[Of course I’d gladly take them all. But you know me.]

Anyhoo, I've converted the "estimate" ranges the auction company supplied from Australian to U.S. dollars as of 10/5/2011. But enough about math; let's see the cars!

Lot #1— 1923 Rolls-Royce 40/50HP Silver Ghost Tourer with Coachwork by Barker “The Riviera Car” — [estimate: $334k - $432k]

“Chassis number 14PK has been described by journalist David Berthon as, 'one of the finest examples of the late series 40/50hp Silver Ghost in the world today. ‘It was…fitted with a touring body and…dispatched by Rolls-Royce to the French Riviera to be used as its demonstrator vehicle. The car returned to England in early 1925, when it had the new, highly effective four wheel brake system retro-fitted by the Factory. The history of the vehicle is well documented and 14PK came to Canberra in the 1930s and eventually into the ownership of the late Laurie Ogle in 2000. 14PK, 'The Riviera Car' has been maintained in marvelous running order and has been restored to its original delivery specification. Complete with extensive history and documentation, 14PK is of remarkable provenance and is perhaps the ultimate Silver Ghost.”

Though you wouldn’t know it by looking at their current roster, there was a time in Roller history when “form” took a serious back seat to “function.” As another part of the description states, “Silent, smooth, comfortable and incredibly reliable, the car was capable of going far and fast, so much so that Lawrence of Arabia used Silver Ghosts as part of his guerrilla force during WW1. For its period, and even today, it is a technological tour de force.” Price guides will tell you that prices for the reported 1,703 British-built Silver Ghosts (1921-1926) range from $125k to $1.5M, with known—and documented—cars naturally falling in the top end of the scale. Not my cup of tea, but a fine example of the breed nonetheless.

Lot #2 — 1958 Jaguar XK150 Open Two Seater, Special Equipment (OTS SE) convertible — [$98k - $128k]

“Featuring a more modern and streamlined look than its predecessors, with one-piece wrap around windscreen and lighter doors, the XK150 was the ultimate sports car of its time, particularly in the form of the open two seater launched in 1958. [This] XK150…was completed on 1 July 1958 and dispatched from the Factory on 23 July 1958 to Jaguar Cars, New York, and delivered to its first owner, J.G. Wells on 24 January 1959. Arriving in Australia in August 1988, the car was restored and converted to right hand drive before it went back on the road in 2002. This Special Equipment Jaguar XK150 roadster, with overdrive, was originally fitted with the 3.4 litre engine and during its restoration was upgraded with a more powerful 'S' model engine with triple SU carburettors. A beautifully presented example with good provenance.”

The Jaguar XK120 is considered by most as the seminal post-war sports car with the later XK140 and XK150 models like this one offering more—though some say too much more—of a good thing. Wikipedia calls the XK150 “radically modernized” compared to the 120 and 140, as a great many things on (and within) the body having been changed. If you’re not familiar with the term, an “Open Two Seater” is just a fancy way of saying “roadster.” I don’t know how much of a “hit” value-wise—if any—this car will suffer due to the engine change, as it’s incorrect for the car but is a desirable “upgrade” for those that actually drive their collector cars.

Lot #3 — 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible — [$83k - $98k]

“One of the ultimate American cars of its period is the Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Cadillac was the ultimate American Luxury car in the golden era of American motoring in the 1950s [and] renowned for innovation, styling and luxury. The two-door Biarritz convertible was the very top of the range and every bit as exotic as the name suggests. This beautiful, original left hand drive Biarritz is an amazing car for its time, featuring outlandish styling details and a remarkable electrically operated hood. In good running order, this desirable car is the epitome of the large, luxury American Convertible.”

Speaking of “too much of a good thing,” here is one of the poster cars for that sentiment. At 4,930 lbs. it was one of the heaviest non-limos sold in 1957 (that year’s Dodge Sierra nine-pass. station wagon weighed “just” 4,030 lbs). And at the nosebleed-high price of $7,266—that was 2.3 Corvettes—it’s no wonder that only 1,800 were built. At $4.68 per gallon (converted) feeding her won’t be cheap, but the chance of seeing another—especially in Oz—is nearly-impossibly-small (unlike the Caddy itself).

Lot #4 — 1974 Jensen Interceptor Mark III Convertible — [$69k - $88k]

“The Jensen Interceptor MK Convertible was built in limited numbers between 1974 and 1976. Only 509 (including prototypes) were built and of these 80% were left hand drive for export to…America. The very rare right hand drive models are much sought after and are the most glamorous and prestigious model of all Jensens. Hand-built to compete with the Rolls-Royce Corniche and the Bentley Convertible models, the car was launched at the 1974 Geneva Motor Show. Featuring a 7.2 litre Chrysler V8 engine and Torque Flite automatic transmission it was an immediate success and caught the imagination of the glamorous set, including Frank Sinatra; 'Wonder Woman', Lynda Carter; Cher…a Penthouse 'Pet'; the drummer of Led Zeppelin and Middle Eastern potentates. This early right hand drive example… is in excellent condition with an extensive file of restoration work carried out. Originally finished in Havana Brown with beige interior it is now stunningly presented in silver with red burgundy leather interior.”

What do you get when you put a honkin’ Mopar 440 cu.in. into an English convertible that had quality-control that was dubious at best? Yup, this. Don’t get me wrong; detail-wise the Interceptor—especially Mark III models—was an incredible idea. Problem was that once they went from paper to production everything fell apart, including the cars. But if you find one in non-rusty and well cared-for condition—as this one seems to be—you can have a beautifully-performing and -looking drop-top for relatively little money.

Lot #5 — 2010 Aston-Martin DBS UB2012 coupe — [$440k - $480k]

This astonishing Aston Martin is one of just twenty vehicles produced, and the only one of its kind in Australia. Delivered new to Australia this 'Works Tailored Commission' number six of twenty, was made by Aston Martin to celebrate CEO, Dr Ulrich Bez's, tenth anniversary in charge of the quintessential British marque. The unique specification for the limited edition UB2010 DBS vehicles includes metallic leather interior with a special woven leather seat insert. The seat's insert and the car itself bear the signature of Dr Bez who personally signed off each example. Other features over and above a DBS are additional carbon fibre extras and ceramic brakes. The exterior paint colour on this DBS UB2010 is not an option when ordering a DBS but is otherwise only available on the Aston Martin ONE-77 supercar. In immaculate condition, as new, having covered just 2,000 kms, this is a truly remarkable and most special Aston Martin.

If this car doesn’t punch all your supercar buttons you’re either dead or crazy. Just look at the thing! It’s the embodiment of badass—especially in Darth Vader black—that’s a one-of-20 supercar with “go” befitting all this “show.” Some of these changes will mean nothing to most—“Who is Dr. Bez?”—but it only takes one look at this car to see that its job is kicking ass and business is VERY good. My pick of the sale.

Lot #6 — 1950 M.G. Midget Series TD roadster— [$20k - $30k]

“Featuring greater comfort and easier handling, a wider body and sturdier general construction, wishbone-type coil spring independent front suspension, piston-type shock absorbers and the latest Lockheed braking system, the new TD had a 1250cc four-cylinder engine capable of a top speed of over 130 km/h. This is a very tidy TD in excellent condition throughout and performs well. It was restored using all original parts from the UK in 1972. Finished in dark green with black guards, this vehicle is[a] fine example of this popular M.G. model.”

As was the case with the XK150, the Series TD Midget was a better-equipped follow-on model to the MG roadster that transformed Americans’ definition of the sports car. Right after WWII concluded and American GIs started returning stateside, many brought with them the TA (or TB or TC or TD) they “liberated” from Europe. If it seems like there’s very little car here, that’s because there isn’t. But that Spartan equipment level—and tiny size—meant low weight, and that meant that even with its relatively low horsepower rating, this Midget could run rings around the abysmally slow and ponderous cars available from U.S. manufacturers. What made them competitive back in the day makes them desirable now, and seeing as how even nice examples like this one are affordable for the average Joe, it’s a wind-in-your-hair win-win solution for anyone seeking a classic car for used Toyota Camry money.

Lot #7 — 1965 Alvis TE.21 coupe — [$54k - $67k]

“This matching numbers TE.21 was delivered new on 25 March 1965 to Grosvenor Garage in Manchester and its first owner Dr Hughes of Liverpool, before being taken to North America on 28 March 1977. After some years of neglect the car underwent a complete restoration and was a multiple award winner at the Vintage Sports Car Club of Calgary 2006 European Classic Car Show. This Alvis, one of just 178 of this specification, comes with an extensive history file including original Registration Book and Factory Car Record.”

If you didn’t know the name “Jensen” I feel safe in assuming that you aren’t up on “Alvis” either. Here’s what the auction listing has to say: “Hand-built and of exceptional quality, Alvis vehicles were reliable and boasted excellent styling combined with performance.” If there’s one thing you can say about this TE.21’s design it is that it is eclectic, with sheetmetal-styling and trim-detailing seemingly lifted from a dozen other cars and mashed together here (especially on its front end). But busy styling doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t be a great car to own and operate, though I have no first-hand experience in the matter. She’s certainly in fine-fettle, as she should be with “over $20k” spent on her since she arrived in Oz in January 2010. Mark this as another (relatively) affordable classic, and a rare one at that.

Lot #8 — Holden Adventra Dakar T3 Prototype Racing Car “The Peter Brock Dakar Car” — [$98k - $177k]

“Peter Brock was without question one of Australia's most famous sporting icons. The Dakar Rally was an event that he aspired to do and he was viewed as his last great competition. This car had been under construction and destined to take him to the Dakar. Known as Peter Brock's last racing car, it is assembled but left unfinished, a monument to the legacy of Peter Brock. Built by race car design and construction experts Design D'Ercole to whom Brock had signed for the Dakar program, it is a T3 Prototype class car built for outright contention and as such is a no compromise full space-frame bespoke racing car [with] a mid-engine location and 4WD. Inspect the vehicle's dedicated website for full details at www.brockdakar.com.au.”

The “Dakar” referred to here is a grueling long-distance off-road torture-test for machines and drivers alike. Originally known as the Paris-to-Dakar rally because of the event’s starting and ending points, political unrest and other personal-safety-challenging issues forced the event to move elsewhere, including—most recently—South America. But—no matter where it’s held—the Dakar rally is brutal, and any vehicle that has any hope of successfully finishing the race (forget about winning) must be outfitted accordingly, which this one, by all appearances, is. Unfortunately it never turned a wheel in anger as Aussie racing legend Peter Brock passed away before the car could be used to compete in the 2006 Dakar, the event for which it was intended (the sale of the car also marks the 5th anniversary of his death). Consider this the Australian equivalent of Dale Earnhardt’s last race car: Sad, but significant.

Photo Gallery (click a thumbnail to enlarge)



dwalter | 11:06AM (Fri, Oct 7, 2011)

That Aston is strikingly beautiful!

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