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Driven by Disruption

Sotheby's New York

7 PM, December 10, 2015


Lot 203, 1938 Bugatti Type 57C Atalante
By Carter B. Horsley

The December 10, 2015 "Driven by Disruption" automobile auction at Sotheby's New York would make any man drool, uncontrollably.

These car had luster to make diamonds dusty.

They had features to make today's ugly vehicles cry in envy.

They had lines found only in heaven's garage.

They make a total mockery of grossly overpriced contemporary paintings!

These were the real monsters of artful drive.

Take, for example, Lot 203, the black 1938 Bugatti 57C Atalante.  The Atalante model was shown at the 1939 World's Fair in New York and was one of only 33 made.

The catalogue entry provided the following commentary:

"The Atalante embodied everything great about French Art Moderne design: arching fenders, a svelte 'notchback' body with a curving roofline, a slanting tail that descended dramatically over the rear fenders, and a wonderfully subtle two-tone color scheme that emphasized its lines.  It was the country of France on wheels: bright, modern, spectacular, and proud, and, most importantly for the French Government, it was a stunning contrast to the stolid American designs of 1939....It was the world's ultimate automobile....[It] came into the possession of an early American Bugatti enthusiast Ray Murray.  Murray also owned Type 57C chassis 57766, a Stelvio Cabriolet originally delivered to gentleman racer Nicolas Embiricos.  Embiricos had the Stelvio shipped to his residence in Palm Beach, and Murray probably acquired it in 1941 shortly after Empiricos' passing....Desiring the most potent combination of the lightweight aluminum coachwork and a supercharged Tuype 57 chassis, of which only five were originally constructed, Murray swapped the two bodies, bringing 57766 to its present and most desirable specification.  In 1947, the now supercharged Atalante was purchased by the legendary Pennsylvania enthusiast Al Garthwaite, most famous as the founder of the Algar Ferrari dealership in suburban Philadelphia....After several years of avid enjoyment, Mr. Garthwaite passed his Bugatti on to a friend and client, Dr. Samuel Scher...[who] took the car to the famous New York garage of stars," Zumbach's, for service and while there it was spotted by John W. Straus.  For the Macy's heir, it was love at first sight, and he had soon acquired the Bugatti from Dr. Scher....It was not until Mr. Straus's estate was being settled in 2007 that the garage door was opened again, revealing the 'lost' Bugatti intact and well-preserved under 45 years of dust.  The car was sold...and returned to operational condition by Sargent Metalworks of Fairlee, Vermont....O'Donnell Classics refinished the original body panels in  a period-correct French Blue and Black combination.  With its restoration completion, the  Bugatti made a return to Pebble Beach, where it completed the Tour d'Elegance and earned 2nd in Class in the concours. [It got] best of Show honors at the Saratoage Invitatinal in 2012."

From the front and rear, the car is impressive, but from the side its small, curvaceous cabin with relatively small, curved side windows appears somewhat shrunken but nonetheless very sensuous.  The front grill is very tall and narrow and curved at the top.

Notable other design features are a bright red turn dignal that folds vertically into the body like a railroad switching signal, bright metallic bumpers the lower front section of the rear tire enclosures and also flanking, in teardrop fashion, the grill at the front of the car beneath the large circular headlights.  The inside door pulls are semi-circular hanging handles.  The doors, of course, open from the rear to the front and the long extended truck section is nicely sloped.

The lot has an estimate of $2,200,000 to $2,500,000.  It failed to sell.

The press release after the sale said that "RM Sotheby's shook up the collector car auction with our Driven by Distraction even in New York City..., generating an amazing $73.5 million in sales with 31 of the world's finest motor cars on offer."  In 2013, its previous auction made $63 million.


Lot 228, 1934 Delage D8 S Cabriolet by Fernandez et Darrin

With its lilac paint, Lot 228 is a head-turner.  A 1934 Delage D8 S Cabriolet by Fernandez et Darrin, it has a 130-inch wheelbase and is one of only two known examples. Designed by Howard Darrin that the catalogue maintained was "beguilingly ahead of its time in its proportions and styling." 

"While in many ways classical in its long hood, short-deck proportions, Darrin's design is visually lengthened by the dual spares moved to the rear of the car, freeing up the full sweep of the sensuously curved fenders....half of this automobile's length is in its hood, which extends all the way back to the short raked vee'd windshield and then angles forwards to move parallel to an angled cowl....Examination of the photographs shows the use of metallic paint to the fenders and upper moldings, while the traditional Fernandez et Darrin beltline extends as it meets the cowl and flows into a pointed 'spade' that tapers to the radiator shell.  In one of several retrospective articles he published, Howard Darrin noted, 'the top was of a silken material laminated into the canvas.  This material...had a sheen and was impervious to water marks.'....[Around 1986, it was acquired] by Noel Thompson of New Vernon, New Jersey, who is well known among CCCA members for his automotive connoisseurship, including such notable marques as Delahaye, Auburn, Bugatti and Stutz.  Thompson entrusted his new acquisition to Stone Barn Automobile Restoration, which performed a complete restoration....Its previous two-tone black-and-red paint treatment was changed to a spectacular lilac shade in the upper and lower panels as well as the fenders, with the accent beltline and hood 'sweep panel' finished in bare polished aluminum...The interior was outfitted in lilac leather.  Befitting the car's grand and flamboyant appearance, the radiator mascot chosen was a Lalique crystal Tete de Paon, or peacock's head....The Delage was displayed at the 1991 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where it was awarded 2nd in Class.  It went onl to appear successfully in competition with the Antique Automobile Club of America, achieving a National First Prize in 1991, and with the Classic Car Club of Americas, scoring its Primary First at the 1992 Eastern Grand Classic in Pennsylvania..."

Seven of its dashboard gauges have vertical sides and curved tops and bottoms. Each of the two parts of the windshield can open up separately and "Fernandez & Darrin" appears on the side of the front seat support.

Delage detail

Detail of front grill of Delage with circular opening at its top for its name to be seen, a curved crossbar in front of the grill, and two trumpet horns and at the upper right the seven graduated and pointed "tracks" on the running boards.

The lot has an estimate of $1,300,000 to $1,600,000.  It sold for $1,430,000.

Mercedes 300 gull wing

Lot 223, 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL 'Sportabteilung' Gullwing

The "Gullwing" Mercedes-Benz 300 SL sport cars are among the most prized of all automobiles for their sensational aerodynamic looks and luxurious finish.  Lot 223 is a 1955 'Sportabteilung' Gullwing that was the first of four Factory race-prepared W198 Gullwings.  It finished second in the 1956 Tour de France when it was driven by Sir Stirling Moss and it has been in single-family ownershiup since 1996.  The catalogue maintains that it is "the rarest and most desirable W198 Gullwing ever offered."  About 1,400 examples were produced over three years before it was supplanted by the 300 SL Roadster in 1957.  Gullwings, according to the catalogue, generally feature steel construction with alloy doors and hoods, though 29 examples were bodied entirely in aluminum alloy, and these have become even more collectible than their standard brethren because of their pronounced rarity and competition speficiations.  In the 1956 Tour de France this car "struggled with mechanical issues early in the multi-stage rally, with faulty ignition leading to a reduction in power.  Moss was reportedly so frustrated with the issues that he very nearly resigned from the race, until a rather anonyomous corner garage in Grenoble sorted out the issue.  In typical fashion, Moss roared back emphatically from that point forwards, far outperforming the eventual winnter (the Marquis de Portago and his namesake Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta) during the final stage of the tour....Moss made up sufficient time in the 300 SL to place 2nd overall, a remarkable finish given his poor start."

The cars seat are upholstered in red-and-white, checkertable-cloth design and there are slanted grills behind the front wheels to accent its styling as to the long thin projections over the wheel openings.  The gullwing doors open on long steel hinges.

The lot has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000.  It failed to sell.

Ferrari Europa

Mechanic polishing Lot 216, 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale

Lot 216 is a 1953 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupe by Vignale.  Enzo Ferrari, according to the catalogue, "courted a number of different coachbuilders who provided not only Ferrai with a  nbumbr of different styles to choose from but also the customer.  Vignale was based in Turin and crafted bodies also for Fiat and Lancia and Alfredo Vignale teamed up with Giovanni Michelotti to creat a number of bold handcrafted and unique designs for Ferrari.  Vignole's designs "differed greatly from those of their rival coachmakers Pinin Farina, Ghia and Touring.  Vignale designed about 150 automobiles for Ferrari.  Ferrari built 22 250 Europas and four were designed by Vignale and the rest by Pinin Farina.

The catalogue states this "car's headlights are inset into the front bumbers, which reated pronounced 'eyebrows' above the headlights, asnd the front turn indicators are deeply recessed into the front wings."  "A chrome trim strip wraps around the body work from the front wheel arches toward the stern and around the trunk, emphasizing the length of the car.  Furthermore, the vents just ahead of the doors and on the sail panels are accented with chrome.  The car was repainted red and in 1960 it was acquired by Leonard Renick who had the "original Lampredi encgine replaced with a supercharged Chevrolet V-8, a common swap at the time as correct Ferrari parts proved difficult to source.  Furthermore, the car's distinctive bumpers were removed along with its rear chrome trim," according to the catalogue. In 2009, it was acaquired by Heinrih Kampfer of Switxzerland and over the next two years he spent 3,000 hours of work on the car with an additional 800 hours completed by others.  In 2015 it was awarded platinum at the Cavallino Classic and the Ferrari Classische Cup for most outstanding factory-certified Ferrari.

The lot has an estimate of $3,500,000 to $4,500,000.  It sold for $3,300,000.

Ferrari 225

Lot 225, 1953 Ferrari 212 Intercoupe

Lot 225 is a 1953 Ferrari 212 Intercoupe that is distinguished by its curved metallic accents near the headlights and its large fish-mouth grill and slight rear fins.  It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $2,400,000. 

Ferrari Enza

Lot 219, 2003 Ferrari Enzo

A bright red 2003 Ferrari Enzo graced the lobby of Sotheby's New York during the auction's exhibition.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Designed by Pininfarina, the Enzo was a drastic departure from the cars that car before.  From nose to tail, form was a secondary consideration to function in order to allow for an unrivalled driving experiences.  Nevertheless, Pininfarina did a fantastic job in sculpting the company's namesake with enduring presence to match its exceptional performance.  Gone was the massive rear wing that defined both the F40 and the F50, replaced by just a small speed-activated spoiler at the rear and aided by improved aerodynamics throughout.  The protruding nose was a styling cue taken from Ferrari's contemporary Formula 1 racecars and sought toi highlight the Enzo's use of race-inspired technology inside.  Inside, there were few creature comforts, assided from the requisiti leather-trimmed carbon-fiber bucket seats and air-conditioning, in order to keep the car as lightweight and focused as possible....Finished in Rosso Corsa over a Nero leather interior, the car was built as a U.S. delivery example but was believed to have been sold new to Adel al Marzoqi of Abu Dhabi....The Enzo
was purchased early last year by Floyd Mayweather, widely considered to be one of the greatest boxers of all time and an automotive enthusiast with a penchant for supercars.  While in his collection, the Enzo shared garage space with three Bugatti Veyrons and numerous Ferraris....Mayweather drive the Enzo some 200 miles during his tenure, and today the odometer reads just 560 miles from new....The seminal supercar of the early 21st Century, the Enzo is without a doubt the most important vehicle produced by Ferrari under the leadership of Luca di Montezemolo....This ws the gold standard to which all other supercar manufacturers copared their marchines."

 Lot 219 has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $3,500,000.  It sold for $3,300,000.

Ferrari 211

Lot 211, 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I by Pinin Farina

The catalogue notes that this 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet Series I by Pinin Farina was the 14th of 40 Series I Cabriolets built and that "considered by many to be onder of Pinin Farina's most elegant designs, the Ferrari 250 GT Cabriolet is the quintessential open-top gentleman's Ferrari."  "Whereas the earliest iterations of the California Spider were simply long-wheelbase 250 GT Berlinettas without a roof, this was a much more refined automobile, built for touring rather than racing.  The Series I Cabriolet dripped with sophistication, benefitting froim smooth and unobstracted lines defined by its closed headlamps and graceful taillights artfully crafted into the rear wings.  It was the gold standards for the upper class, and ownership showcased not only the owners's appreciatiaton of engineering and performance but also their refined and sophisticated taste in transportation."

The car went through several refits but was eventually returned to its original configuration.

Rear of Ferrari GT

Rear view of Lot 211

The lot has an estimate of $6,000,000 to $7,500,000.  It sold for $5,720,000.

1972 Lamborghini

Lot 202 1972 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV by Bertone

Lot 202 is a yellow 1972 Lamborghini Miura P400 SV by Bertone.  "Based upon a transverse mid-mounted V-12, the Miura was the poster child for a petrol-fueled generation, seen in the garages of Miles Davis, Rod Stewart and Frank Sinatra.  Its beautiful styling was rich in fine detail, with the doors' sensuously curved shape borrowed from the form of a raging bull and pop-up headlights mounted flush into a smooth front end that seemed to roll up over the driver's compartment and off a Kammback tail.  It was the design that gave birth to the world 'supercar,' and it marked a paradigm shift in the design eof high-performance automobiles world wide. 
It has an estiamte of $2,400,000 to $2,800,000.  It sold for $2,420,000.

Berlinetta 205

Lot 205, 1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta by Touring

Lot 205 is a 1954 Pegaso Z-102 3.2 Berlinetta by Touring that the catalogue states is "the technically sophisticated Spanish supercar that thrilled the world" and "the finest original, unmolested surviving example" of only 84 ever produced. 

Berlinetta rearview

Detail of rear window

It achieved a high degree of elegance with its very handsome front grill, its unusually shaped and finely finished engine cover and its exquisite intersection of curved rear window and large rear side window joined with a chroma medallion over three graduated teardrops.  It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,000,000.  It sold for $742,500.

Lot  215 is a 1962 Aston Martn DB$/GT Zagato with an estimate of $15,000,000 to $17,000,000.   It sold for $14.300,000.  It was the 14th of just 19 such models and spent much of its life in Australia.  It was restored by Peter Read and at its very first outing at the Louis Vuitton Concours at the Hurlinghamn club in June 2002, the DB4GT Zagao not only won its class but was also nmaed best of Show.  That win got it invited to the Bagatelle Concourse d'Elegance where it also won its class.  Further Best in Class honors were obtained at Villa d'Este, Pebble Beach, and the Neillo Concours in 2007 and the Presidio of San Francsico Concours and the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours in 2009.

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