Month: September 2017

Automotive Love at First Sight

GM PR Image from the Public Domain supplied by the Automotive History Preservation Society (AHPS) Archive.

Ask anyone to shout out the first thing that enters their mind about the late-1970s Pontiac Trans Am, and they will likely answer “Smokey and the Bandit.” While the Pontiac ponycar’s use in the wildly successful Burt Reynolds/Hal Needham movie franchise cemented its iconic status in the public imagination, the Trans Am was my dream car long before the popular movie’s 1977 release.

What’s not to love? The Firebird and its various models, including the Esprit, Formula, and Trans Am, held the line as high-style, high-content cars with a strong performance identity during the turbulent 1970s. I loved how most of the auto industry struggled to meet fuel economy, emissions, and safety legislation, yet Pontiac’s engineering wizards somehow managed to make the second-generation F-Body Firebird not only keep pace but stand proudly as the fastest American car alongside Chevrolet’s Corvette. While the Firebird was indeed available with a thrifty six-cylinder engine, the performance-oriented Formula and top-echelon Trans Am were available with several versions of Pontiac’s 400- and 455-cid V-8 engines, with the 400 and Oldsmobile 403 V-8 making their final appearances in 1979. The WS-6 performance option, available from 1978 through 1981, added performance-tuned underpinnings and 4-wheel disc brakes for outstanding handling and stopping power – ideal for these true driver’s cars.

As a kid, I was captivated by the Pontiac’s magical combination of performance and image – just like millions more throughout North America. Sales were brisk, thanks to high-profile movie and TV placements, including the gold mid-’70s Firebird piloted by James Garner every week on “The Rockford Files.” Friends and I could only wonder as to what engine was under the hood of that car, which was the perfect match for Mr. Garner’s stylish and highly likable TV character.

During my grade school and high school years, I dreamed of owning a Firebird of my own. My opportunity came in May 1984, when I had accumulated enough money to buy a 1979 Trans Am. Not just any Trans Am, mind you – a 10th Anniversary Special Edition Trans Am. It had been used pretty hard by the owner’s son until the keys were quickly revoked and the car was parked. It had a few door dings, but I saw the potential. Or drank the Kool-Aid, as some close to me thought at the time. Anyway, I had to have it. Years of pent-up desire and saving left me no choice. I was hooked.

Thoughts of grateful friends and swooning young ladies swirled in my head as I handed the money to the seller and dutifully made my way to the local license office to get my new plates for the car. All after leaving class and before 5:00 pm! The car had an Olds 403 and automatic transmission, and I planned some choice tweaks to unlock a bit more power. However, the engine’s strong torque output and Safe-T-Track limited-slip rear end were surprisingly adept at breaking the nearly-bald original-style Goodyear Polyglas radial tires loose with a little prodding. Attention naysayers: 185 Net horsepower + limited slip + youthful silliness was a perfect algorithm for squealing tires and plenty of high-speed fun. That power rating sounds punky now, but during the emissions- and economy-crazy mid-1980s, I was at the wheel of a pretty fast and quick road machine.

I loved that car. From its relative rarity (about 8,000 10th Anniversary cars built) to its special silver-and-charcoal paint finish, multi-color pinstripes, huge hood decal, and silver leather interior with matching deep-pile carpeting, it was my dream machine. Every power option available was standard on this ‘bird. Just the GM/Delco 40-channel CB radio was optional. I was intent on keeping my car factory-stock in homage to GM and Pontiac. I even left the factory AM/FM 8-Track stereo system alone. Friends and relatives sympathized with my madness, giving me several cases of 8-Track tapes for the car, featuring plenty of the finest works from Boston, Journey, Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Supertramp, and even a few surprisingly good K-Tel compilations of late 1970s and early 1980s hits. Carole King’s Platinum-selling  Tapestry and Boney M’s Nightflight to Venus – complete with the infectious disco hit Rasputin – were unlikely and very guilty pleasures.

Many good things come to an end, however. For me, it was university and a brand new and wickedly quick Ford Mustang LX 5.0 hatchback. Something had to give, and I sold my beloved Trans Am to a young couple who were also afflicted with Trans Am fever and had an insurance settlement in hand to replace their wrecked 1978 black-and-gold Special Edition car. I never forgot my Trans Am and while I was considered not very cool during my ownership of it, I had many happy times in that car and fond memories of it remain today. Happily, during the 2017 Festival celebrations in downtown Auburn, I spied this very nice 1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am on a side street near the epicenter of the celebrations.  I dragged my ever-patient and supportive wife and three teenage kids over to the car, which was far nicer than mine ever was, clearly benefiting from some 15 years of single-owner care and enjoyment.

A very nice 10th Anniversary Special Edition Trans Am spotted at the 2017 Auburn Labor Day weekend Festival celebrations in beautiful downtown Auburn, Indiana. The owner told me he has owned the car for 15 years, and given its great appearance, it showed! I was thrilled to see it.

What was your first “special” car? Comment here and tell us about it!

Glamour Time! Starring the 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Drophead Coupe

A true motoring icon as sought-after today as when new, this 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Drophead Coupe strikes a dramatic pose. The choice of movie icons, top celebrities, and the world’s richest buyers, it is one of our early feature consignments to our upcoming January 17, 2018, Scottsdale auction.

Aimed primarily at America’s famous and wealthy, the Silver Cloud III remains a stylistic icon and one of the all-time finest motorcars ever to come from Rolls-Royce. In fact, it’s cutting-edge styling, luxury, and impeccable engineering make it an ideal classic car for touring enjoyment today. In addition to the “standard” (if that term ever applied to a Rolls-Royce) Saloon, a limited number of coach built examples (328 on the normal-length chassis and 47 on the long-wheelbase chassis) also graced the Silver Cloud III chassis. While quite rare, the Drophead Coupe by H.J. Mulliner Park Ward is even more rare, with just 101 built in all. This example is one of just 52 produced with left-hand drive.

Debuted at the 1963 Earls Court Motor Show in London alongside the Silver Cloud III 2-door Saloon, the Drophead Coupe was coach built by H.J. Mulliner Park Ward. This special model retained the general design language used by Vilhelm Koren for the prior Silver Cloud II and Bentley S2, refined and modernized with a new canted four-headlamp arrangement harmonizing nicely with Rolls-Royce’s signature Greek Temple-inspired radiator shell up front. Now, as when new, the Silver Cloud III continues to epitomize style and luxury and marks the end of an era as the last Rolls-Royce model other than the Phantom VI limousine to utilize traditional body-on-frame construction.

Numbered LSC39C, this original U.S.-specification 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Drophead Coupe is one of just 52 left-hand drive examples produced, according to the definitive book, “Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining,” by Davide Bassoli. A late-production, “Series C” car, it benefits from all the running updates applied to the Silver Cloud III chassis during its relatively brief production run. Additionally, the original details for LSC39C are listed by Lawrence Dalton in “Rolls-Royce: The Classic Elegance,” as well as copies of the original Rolls-Royce chassis card provided by the Rolls-Royce Foundation.

Built to order, LSC39C was delivered to H.J. Mulliner Park Ward to receive its special Style 2045 coachwork (Body No. Z.91) on October 11, 1965. On November 24, 1965, the chassis was tested by the Rolls-Royce factory, with UK Registration Number JGF34D. Following completion, LSC39C was shipped to Rolls-Royce Inc. in New York and then delivered via Ascot Imported Cars on April 4, 1966, to its first owner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The original equipment was comprehensive, supplemented by a desirable FrigiKing air-conditioning system, most likely a dealer-installed option in period for year-round comfort. The glove box contains the original Owners Handbook, plus registration documents and a handwritten note by the original reading, “11-12-76 Installed all new muffler system 17,800 miles.” The next documented owner of LSC39C acquired the car on March 25,1991 at 37,870 miles. The Consignor, a longstanding Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club member, and marque collector acquired LSC39C in June 1993, using it only sparingly ever since.

As offered, LSC39C clearly benefits from proper care, maintenance, and storage. It retains the majority of its factory-original Valentines Smoke Green paint finish, with selective touch-ups as required. The luxurious interior, trimmed in Stone Connolly hides, remains almost entirely original except for a newer Blaupunkt AM/FM cassette head unit and speakers. Mounting plates for the factory-original radio remain with the car. An ideal purchase for the committed Rolls-Royce collector, this 1963 Silver Cloud III will provide its new owner with a great classic touring experience, as well as an ideal entry for the many shows, concours, and Rolls-Royce Owners Club events held worldwide. Get ready for our second annual Scottsdale auction, slated for January 17, 2018 and experience it for yourself! Register to bid by calling us at 1-800-990-6789 or by clicking here.

 

 

Auburn – Our Home is the Home of the Classics

A fitting group of L-29s in celebration of the 2017 ACD Festival marking the Year of the Cord.

Ever since it was established during the mid-1950s, the annual Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival continues to draw legions of visitors to Auburn, Indiana, the home city of Worldwide Auctioneers. Situated in DeKalb County, Indiana, Auburn was founded in 1836 by Wesley Park and serves as the county seat of DeKalb County. Auburn also stands proudly as the “Home of the Classics,” where the beautifully styled and technically sophisticated automobiles once rolled off the Auburn, Cord, and Duesenberg assembly plants.

While the great pre-war classic cars produced in Auburn until the late 1930s rank highly among the many attractions and events, including our annual Auburn auction at the National Automobile and Truck Museum (NATMUS), Auburn itself provides a truly wonderful setting. From its many historic landmarks to wonderful architecture, Auburn and its residents are equally renowned for their community spirit and hospitality to visitors.

Great prewar classics in front of the National Auto & Truck Museum. This historic location is the actual building where the Cord L-29 – America’s first front-drive passenger car – was produced.

With far too many of its beauties to fully list here, Auburn is a family-friendly city with a refreshing small-town feel, yet delivers the amenities of many larger centers. In short, Auburn – whether during the Festival Week or any other occasion, is a great place to visit and spend some quality time. Here are just a few images of Auburn, with much more to be added to our various social media pages. We hope you will enjoy these images of what makes Auburn so special!

The beautiful, Art Deco interior of the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum, which was originally the company’s administration building during the 1930s.

A truly timeless classic – an Auburn Speedster spotted front and center at the Friday night street festival in downtown Auburn’s town square.

The beautiful water fountain adjacent to Auburn’s Craftsman-era Eckhart Library, nicely illuminated during a perfect late-summer evening – the perfect location for quiet reflection or a delicious picnic.

 

Highlights from Our 10th Annual Auburn Auction

Following up on our 10th annual auction in our hometown of Auburn, Indiana, we are thrilled to announce a 97% sell-through rate, propelled by the Jimmie Taylor collection, the final cars from the Chuck Runyon collection, and the second grouping of vehicles from Allen Smith. Offered without reserve, the cars and motorcycles from these three private collections spanned automotive history from the dawn of motoring and both sides of the Atlantic.

The Brooks Stevens-designed Die Valkyrie concept car, based on the commanding and powerful foundation of a 1955 Cadillac chassis and formerly part of the Brooks Stevens Auto Museum, added a further dash of show-car drama and international flair to the auction.

Opening the auction was the offering of this year’s beautifully handmade charity quilt, “Every Mile is a Memory,” which sold for $11,000. The product of more than 3,000 hours of hand embroidery, quilt work, and love, this wonderful piece drew spirited bids and will its sale will benefit the worthy functions of the Catholic Charities Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).

The top seller of this year’s Auburn auction was the dashing 1938 Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet B, resplendent in Blue over Tan leather and complete with a wonderful set of fitted luggage inside the trunk, which drew a winning bid of $539,000 including buyer’s premium.

Another exciting sale was achieved by the beautifully restored 1908 Holsman Model 10 High-Wheel Runabout, which was found prior to restoration stored inside the milking parlor of a dairy barn. Sold at $66,000 it is going to a worthy collection.

Continuing the momentum, we are now hard at work securing great consignments for our second annual Scottsdale, Arizona auction, slated for January 18th, 2018. Watch our website and advertising for news as consignments are added over the next few months and contact us to register to bid or to have your special collector car considered for the auction!

 

Exciting New Details on our 1930 Cadillac V-16 Selling at Auburn

The cover car for our 10th annual Auburn, Indiana auction to be held on Saturday, September 2nd, this majestic 1930 Cadillac V-16 Imperial Limousine by Fleetwood is one of the most historic luxury cars ever produced. Aimed directly at the business, political, and social elite of the 1930s, Cadillac’s V-16 remains a design and engineering landmark in every respect with no two exactly alike. In researching the background of this example, Worldwide Auctioneers consulted the GM Media Archive and received a copy of the original Cadillac Motor Car sales order form for this very car.

After it was produced, this Fleetwood Style 4375 Imperial Limousine-bodied V-16 was delivered new to Portland, Oregon, where it was sold by the Collins Bros. Co. All V-16s were sold new to wealthy individuals with the means to purchase and operate them, and this car, number 700859, was no exception, having either been purchased new or subsequently by Jimmy Monaghan, a Portland-based lumber baron. This early provenance came to light by chance just today (Friday September 1, 2017), when Mr. Glenn Mounger, the retired chairman of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance,  contacted our Auctioneer and Co-Principal, Rod Egan. Mr. Mounger not only recalled our V-16, he had a wonderful personal connection to it.

During the early 1970s, around 1971-1972, Mr. Mounger and his friend, Larry Lattin, were seeking classic cars in Oregon, where they saw 700859 in a lumber camp. Spotted in very good condition and sporting the silver and black colors it continues with today, the V-16 was under the ownership of an aged, but still very spry, Jimmy Monaghan. A sale price was negotiated on the spot with Mr. Monaghan and Mr. Lattin was the proud new owner of the V-16. The adventures continued for both Mounger and Lattin, with the as-yet unproven Cadillac, weighing some 5,000 pounds, needing to be driven over a mountain pass for the trip to its new home with Mr. Lattin in Seattle, Washington. Thankfully, the unrestored car’s brakes were up to the task and the trip to Seattle proved uneventful but enjoyable, with Mr. Mounger at the wheel.

During his ownership of 700859, which we understand to have continued until the late 1990s, Mr. Lattin eventually had the car restored circa 1990-1992. The car would eventually be acquired in 2001 by noted Windsor, Ontario-based collector Mickey Moulder, who detailed the car for the show field and displayed the V-16 at the 2002 Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance. The next year, Mr. Moulder sold the Cadillac to Jimmie Taylor of Huntington, West Virginia, who made the car the centerpiece of his wonderful museum collection, which was open to the public for free. To ever be able to offer a Cadillac V-16 from the first model year is a thrill in itself. However, with its great history, this Cadillac V-16 marks an even better occasion. Now, it can be yours, offered Without Reserve at Auburn on Saturday, August 2nd!