Cruising through the catalogs, looking for my favorites
By Larry Edsall
They've arrived, those pounds-heavy, thick-papered, glossy-photographed catalogs for the RM and Gooding & Co. classic car auctions that take place this month here in Arizona's Valley of the Sun, and we open them lustily, like an adolescent who's escaped with his college-age sister's Victoria Secret brochure.
For most of us, our lust will not be consummated. We won't be buying that 1930 Duesenberg, 1949 Ferrari 166, 1939 Packard Twelve Sport Phaeton or that barn-found Tucker when they roll across the block at the Biltmore resort or inside the tent at the Scottsdale Fashion Square. But that doesn't mean we cannot dream about such vehicles.
After all, isn't that what such catalogs are about: To encourage us to dream about the seemingly unreachable? To inspire us to work harder or to invest more wisely or to create that killer iPhone app that will enable us to someday be able to bid on such vehicles?
For classic car enthusiasts, whether we have a garage of museum-quality showpieces, own a few decent drivers, or even if our "collection" is just one project vehicle we're slowly restoring on weekends, even if we are not yet able to afford more than a few die-cast models and a daydream, catalogs such as those from RM and Gooding provide an opportunity to participate in what stick and ball sports fans call their fantasy leagues, where they draft players and use their real-game statistics to compile standings and win championships.
With the disclaimer that my selections are strictly the result of personal taste, that I strongly believe in buying what you like regardless of whether it might ever reach the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach or be displayed in the Petersen museum, here are the top 10 vehicles I'm bidding on (with my stack of Monopoly money) this month at RM and Gooding:
- Gooding Lot 157 / 1953 Fiat 8V Supersonic
Styled by Giovanni Savonuzzi and built by Ghia, this was the first of only 15 of these post-war/looking toward the Space Age coupes.
- Gooding Lot 143 / 1956 Nash Rambler "Palm Beach" coupe speciale
Designed by Pinin Farina and unveiled at the Turin motor show, this car was designed as the replacement for the Nash-Healey.
- Gooding Lot 40 or RM Lot 130 / 1953 Nash-Healey roadster
While I'm buying the car's proposed replacement, I may as well buy the car itself.
- RM Lot 264 / 1964 Dodge Hemi Charger concept car
As I said, I'm a sucker for concept cars. Chrysler created this one to introduce its new Hemi engine and the Charger nameplate.
- Gooding Lot 159 / 1934 Packard Twelve Model 1107 coupe roadster
Or RM Lot 240 / 1032 Packard Twin Six 2/4P coupe roadster
Much to my surprise, I learned not that long ago that my father owned two Packards, a new one he bought before World War II and a used one he bought after the war. My mom doesn't know the year or models, but I want a Packard and either of these gorgeous convertibles would do nicely.
- RM Lot 116 / 1952 Tojeiro MG barchetta sports racer
This is one of several cars RM is selling from the estate of the late Bill Jacobs, whose family owned the Chevrolet dealership where my family bought our 1957 Chevy. Though his father started the business, at age 23 Bill Jr. became the youngest GM dealer principal in the country.
- RM Lot 253 / 1949 Cadillac Series 75 Custom Limousine
Gotta have a woodie, why not this Caddy built so the MGM studios would shuttle movie stars to and from shooting locations?
- RM Lot 268 / 1985 Ferrari 500 Superfast Series I
Or Gooding Lot 43 / 1935 Rolls-Royce Phantom II Hooper-bodied fixed-head coupe
If often cover the Copperstate 1000 vintage sports car rally. I think either of these would this provide a great way to experience the route.
- Gooding Lot 137 / 1935 Bowlus Road Chief
This isn't a car. It's one of the early travel trailers made from aircraft-industry aluminum.
- Gooding Lot 136 / 1941 Packard 120 Hercules-bodied station wagon
While I'm buying the Bowlus Road Chief, I may as well buy this Packard wagon to tow it.
A very special set of wheels
Each year, in one of the most emotional moments of the Barrett-Jackson auction at Scottsdale, a car is sold to raise money for the Darrell Gwynn Foundation. This month at Scottsdale, the fruit of such sales will be clear when the foundation presents a $16,000 custom motorized wheelchair to Erasmo Portillo, who, according to the foundation, couldn't afford to buy such a chair, nor, the foundation said in a press release, would Portillo's health insurance "allow for him to acquire one." Portillo was nominated for the foundation's wheelchair donation program by the Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona.
SPEED to televise 40 hours of Barrett-Jackson
Speaking of Barrett-Jackson, SPEED channel will televise 40 hours of the Scottsdale auction live this year. Coverage will be from 7 p.m. (Eastern time) until midnight on January 18, 19 and 20, from 2 p.m. until midnight on January 21 and 22, and from 2-6 p.m. on January 23.
Mecum claims title as biggest of the January sales
As the action in Arizona winds up, it starts its annual shift to Florida, where Mecum Auctions plans to offer 1,750 vehicles over the course of an expanded schedule – now five days, January 26-30 – at Kissimmee.
Mecum says that with so many cars, its Florida event becomes the largest of all January classic car auctions.
Click here for event calendar.
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Fiat Supersonic Photo by Pawel Litwinski (c) 2010 Courtesy of Gooding & Company