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By Larry Edsall
Back to ClassicCars.com Community

Petersen's plans, Monterey money, and Barrett-Jackson's 'Hot August' nights
By Larry Edsall

Petersen Automotive Museum We'll get to the results of the auctions and other action on the Monterey Peninsula in a moment, but first, an update on the plans for the Petersen Automotive Museum, which is not going all French cars and Art Deco on us (as has been reported elsewhere).

As we reported and as the Petersen confirmed at a press briefing at Monterey, the museum plans to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2014 with "a complete exterior transformation and a dynamic redesign of the interior, resulting in a world class museum that will showcase the art, experience, culture and heritage of the automobile. Displays will feature the prominence of the automobile in Southern California, as well as cars, trucks and motorcycles from around the world. In addition to the facility upgrade, the new Petersen will feature a refined and upgraded permanent collection and an expansion of rotating displays, galleries, technology and story-telling, providing visitors with fresh, new experiences throughout the year."

Further, "The L.A. cultural landmark will showcase Southern California's rich automotive heritage and will serve as a gateway to the city's "Museum Row."

Money generated by selling off a bunch of cars that had been taking up room in the museum's parking garage and basement, as well as a few true classics, will be used to upgrade and update the displays. A separate fund-raising effort has begun to pay for the architectural alterations.

The goal is to transform the museum's exterior into "one of the most significant and unforgettable structures in Los Angeles," with ribbons of stainless steel -- designed to evoke the imagery of speed and the organic curves of coach-built cars -- wrapped around and over a deep red building. As you can see from the photograph of the proposed interior, the theme will carry into the building as well.

Petersen Automotive Museum "Our plan is to work with the best and brightest minds in architecture, automotive history and interactive design to give the people of Los Angeles and the world a place where they can be immersed in the culture, sights and sounds of the greatest vehicles ever built," said museum chairman Peter Mullin.

Those changes, plus the addition of 15,000 square feet of display space, are designed not only to appeal to first-time visitors, but to draw people back for repeated visits.

$27-Million Ferrari highlights $300-million Monterey auction action

After leaving an orphanage on his 18th birthday, North Carolina native Eddie "George" Smith found work as a theater usher, a cab driver and dispatcher, and then went to work at a small mail-order hosiery business. Eight years later he started his own mail-order business -- the National Wholesale Company -- and the rest, as they say, is history.

Smith's history included a passion for sports cars and a friendship with Ferrari importer Luigi Chinetti. When Chinetti convinced Enzo Ferrari to build 10 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spiders in 1967, Smith bought one (so did Steve McQueen). With Smith's death, the car was on the docket at RM Auctions' Monterey sale, with proceeds earmarked for charities Smith supported during his lifetime.

Bidding opened at eight figures and ended with the car selling for $27.5 million, as widely reported to Lawrence Stroll, the financier behind the Tommy Hilfiger clothing brand and the man who bought and renovated the famed St. Jovite race track in Quebec.

The price was the second-highest ever paid for a car at a public auction, exceeded only by the $29.65 million paid earlier this summer at a Bonhams sale in England for the ex-Fangio 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196R Formula One racing car.

Speaking of Bonhams, it held a sale at Monterey as well, with someone paying $4.6 million of a 1931 Bentley 4.5-litre supercharged Le Mans roadster, which placed that car only 10th on the top-sales list for the week.

Imagine! $4.65 million and it ranks only 10th for the week!

A 1957 Ferrari 250 GT tdF Berlinetta sold at Gooding for $9.46 million and a 1953 Ferrari 375 MM Spyder went for $9.075 at RM.

A 1937 Bugatti Type 57SC Atalante, the 1997 McLaren F1 coupe, and a 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster all brought more than $8 million, with a 1939 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster and a 1955 Ferrari 250 GT Competizione Berlinetta both in the $7 million range. Ninth on the list was a 1948 Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione Coupe that sold for $4.84 million.

RM and Gooding dominated the top-10 list, but each of the auctions earned some sort of bragging rights. A 1955 Porsche 550/1500 RS Spyder went for $4.0125 million at Mecum; in addition to the Bentley, Bonhams chalked up $2.805 million for a 1953 Ferrari 250 Europe Vignale Coupe and $2.068 million for an unrestored 1963 Shelby Cobra 260 roadster; and Russo and Steele got $1.0505 million for a 1949 Ferrari 166 Inter Berlinetta.

According to figures supplied by Hagerty Insurance, RM did $125 million in business at Monterey, Gooding and Company $112.7, Bonahms $30.5, Mecum $27.2 and Russo and Steele $6.5. Sell-through rates ranged from 89 percent at RM and Gooding to 37 percent at Russo and Steele.

Pebble Beach Judge's '34 Packard judged best-in-show at Pebble Beach

New Jersey judge Joseph Cassini III and his wife, Margie, are well known within the classic car community. For the last two years -- and four times in the last eight years -- their cars have won best-in-show honors at the Concours d'Elegance of America. And their 1934 Packard 1108 Twelve Dietrich Convertible Victoria drove off with best-in-show honors at the 63rd Pebble Beach concours d'elegance as well.

"This Packard is the epitome of American style and grace in the Classic Era," said Sandra Button, the concours chairman. "It is understated but elegant, and it has a striking but quiet presence. When it drove onto our show field this morning, and I stepped forward to greet the Cassinis, I could barely hear the engine running."

The Cassinis' Packard is only the second American car to win best-in-show at Pebble Beach in nearly 20 years (The 1935 Duesenberg SJ Speedster "Mormon Meteor" won in 2007).

The Cassinis also won the top award at Pebble Beach in 2004 with their 1938 Horch 853A Erdmann & Rossi Sport Cabriolet.

Spirit of Monterey award to 81-year-old John Harden

The top award at the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion, the Spirit of Monterey, went to 81-year-old John Harden of Oklahoma City. Harden's first raced in 1953 when he drove in the original Pebble Beach Road Races through the Del Monte Forest. And now, in his 80s, he raced for the last time, steering his his 1963 Genie MK VIII in the Monterey Reunion's Group 4A for 1960-68 Sport Racing USRRC cars at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Harden finished eighth among the 33 cars running at the finish.

Barrett-Jackson does $14.2 million at 'Hot August Nights' Barrett-Jackson's inaugural Hot August Nights auction in Reno/Tahoe totaled $14.2 million. The top sales were $500,000 for the first 2014 Shelby GT500 convertible, $192,000 for a 1963 Chevrolet Corvette convertible, $178,200 for a 1950 Jaguar XK 120 roadster, $165,000 for a 1968 Shelby GT500 E continuation fastback and $148,500 for a 1957 Corvette convertible.

In addition to the auction, Barrett-Jackson sponsored the Barrett-Jackson Cup with a $20,000 award in conjunction with the Hot August Nights car show. The top award went to a 19y9 Ford Torino owned by George Poteet of Collierville, Tennessee. The car, which earlier won street machine of the year honors from the Goodguys Rod and Custom Association, was built by Troy and Jack Trepanier of Rad Rides by Troy.

Next up: Labor Day weekend at Auburn, Indiana

Auction America's annual Labor Day event at Auburn, Indiana, is next up on the classic car calendar. We'll have a preview early next week.

Click here for event calendar.

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