1931 The Long Wheelbase Duesenberg
2011 SOLD 10.3 M$ including premium
At that time, customers bought the chassis and selected the body shop. The choice was great, which gives an infinite variety to Duesenberg vehicles.
The high end was the lengthened Model J chassis (long wheelbase). This huge machine 3.90 m long exceeded by 30 cm the standard (short wheelbase) Model J.
Whittell bought a long wheelbase in 1931 and made it equipped as a coupe by the stylist Franklin Hershey. The result is a surprising example of American Art Deco, including a folding roof that makes this car look like a convertible. The general shape is aerodynamic, anticipating the trend of the automotive design of the later 1930s.
It comes in the sale held in Pebble Beach on 20 and 21 August by Gooding. Totaling less than 20,000 km, it is in perfect working order.
POST SALE COMMENT
Sold $ 10.3 million including premium, this car has certainly exceeded the most optimistic hopes. The press release issued before sale had been particularly enthusiastic.
1931 Bugatti Royale
1987 SOLD for 5.5 M£ (including premium ?) worth US$ 9.8M at that time, by Christie's
narrated in 2021
The prototype demonstrates the feasibility in 1926. Times change. The King of Spain, targeted as the emblematic client, is in difficulty. The economic crisis arises. Bugatti had planned 25 units. Only 6 are produced, each with another body type. The only king who shows interest in La Royale, Zog of Albania, is not accepted by Bugatti.
The business failure of La Royale is obvious. Three cars are sold. Ettore Bugatti's personal car will enter the Schlumpf collection in the 1960s. The other two, chassis 41140 and 41151, are acquired together in 1950 by Briggs Cunningham. Cunningham sells 41151 and keeps 41140 for his museum which closes in 1986.
Built in 1931, 41140 retains its original bodywork by Kellner, a two-door coupe for five passengers. It was sold on November 17, 1987 by Christie's for £ 5.5M, worth $ 9.8M at that time. I guess this figure includes the premium. It passed at Kruse in 1989, far below a reserve price of $ 15M.
The image is shared with attribution : Arnaud 25, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
1931 Bentley was too fast
2013 SOLD 4.6 M$ including premium
For sport and specially to win at Le Mans, two concepts were clashing. The founder W.O. Bentley is in favor of huge engines like his 6 1/2 liter model to get more power by an extension of the mechanical movements.
Pushed by the flamboyant team of the Bentley Boys, Barnato prefers overloading the engine of the 4 1/2 liter model. So starts the Blower Bentley in 1929. Unfortunately the new car, capable of outstanding speed performance, is not yet reliable enough to win endurance races.
A Blower Bentley manufactured in 1931 is estimated $ 4M, for sale by Bonhams at Quail Lodge (Carmel) on August 16. Here is the link to the catalog.
Its outstanding feature is its original Le Mans-type chassis, consistent with the rules of the time for this endurance race. Its original bodywork had been made by Vanden Plas also in a Le Mans configuration. It was replaced in 1938, probably due to wear, with a nice Brooklands-type racing body with which it is still equipped today.
Bentley was too fast. The Blower had not won at Le Mans against the other models of the brand. The Blower Bentley for sale was one of the last to carry the hopes of this model that the crisis was to wipe out: in 1931, Bentley was bought by Rolls-Royce.
POST SALE COMMENT
The result is consistent with the expectation for this interesting Bentley: $ 4.6M including premium.
1931 The Ideal Bentley according to Barnato
2007 SOLD 4.5 M$ including premium by Gooding
Barnato was the chairman of Bentley and the sponsor of the Bentley Boys. His high-end model was the Bentley 4.5 liter Blower.
Within eight decades, most cars have been repaired and transformed. One of them however, bodied in boat-tail shape in 1931 by Gurney Nutting, has been preserved in its original state and is considered as the closest copy of what Barnato was wishing. It has even kept its original fabric covering, probably somehow worn.
This car is known by the friendly nickname Green Hornet which was given to it by one of its former owners. It was sold $ 4.5 million including premium by Gooding on August 19, 2007.
It comes back at auction on August 19 in Monterey, also by Gooding.
Its estimate, $ 8M, may seem ambitious. However, it is in the same range as the excellent result obtained by Bonhams on June 29 on a single-seater racing car built on the same chassis model: £ 5M including premium.
Some observers used to say that racing cars are more appreciated than other units. In today's market of vintage cars, I am tempted to doubt this assertion. The sale of the Green Hornet is a good opportunity to check the trend.
POST 2012 SALE COMMENT
Unsold. I am not surprised: the expected gain above the 2007 result was exaggerated.
The day before by the same auction house, a very rare 1928 Bentley in Bobtail shape was sold $ 6M including premium.
1931 Bentley Blower
for sale by Gooding on August 13-14
to be narrated
Equipped with an original Amherst Villiers ribbed supercharger and a large capacity LeMans fuel tank, this 1931 #Bentley 4 1-2 Litre SC "Blower" is one of the 50 original supercharged 4 1/2 Litre cars built. #PebbleBeachAuctions— Gooding & Company (@goodingandco) July 11, 2021
Register to Bid: https://t.co/cYeef63uUa pic.twitter.com/lNCePNveLR
1931 Early Expectations for the Bugatti Type 51
2016 SOLD for $ 4M including premium
At all times, an automobile supremacy is necessarily short lived. The technical progress of Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz is forcing Bugatti to look for new solutions. It is too late. Despite some early successes, the new models Types 51, 53 and 54 introduced in 1931 and 1932 will not match the ambitions of the French brand.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the Miller 91 achieves great results in competition with its small supercharged engine reduced in volume to adapt to new rules, even at that time ! Bugatti indirectly obtains the Miller 91 patterns and creates its own Type 51 by plagiarizing the camshaft from its American competitor. The external features of the new car are almost unchanged from Type 35.
One of the first Bugatti Type 51 was sold in 1931 to Lord Howe, an outstanding personality of British motor racing who won in the same year the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a driving partnership with Henry Birkin on an Alfa Romeo 8C-2300.
Lord Howe intensely used his Bugatti Type 51, entering it four times at the Monaco Grand Prix. Tazio Nuvolari was once seen driving this car in the same time range, but only for practices. Lord Howe sold it in 1935. The later story is less glorious : the Bugatti overturned to kill its second owner in 1937.
Despite its rebuilding performed around its original chassis after the accident, Lord Howe's Bugatti remains one of the most desirable Type 51 in existence. It is for sale on August 19 by Bonhams at Quail Lodge, Carmel CA, lot 36.
Please watch the video shared by Bonhams.
1932 The Roadsters of Jean Bugatti
2016 SOLD for $ 10.4M including premium
The situation is uneasy. In racing, the glorious Type 35 is no more competitive and its successors Types 51, 53 and 54 do not reach the performance of their Alfa Romeo competitors. Too expensive, the Type 41 La Royale limousine appealed only three customers and its target of 25 units in production will never be achieved.
Fortunately the commercial success is maintained by a deluxe coupé designed in 1929 by Ettore and Jean, the Type 46 nicknamed La Petite Royale. Jean is 20 years old.
The Bugatti brand introduces in 1931 the Type 55 sports car with three factory bodywork options : coupé, cabriolet and roadster. Designed by Jean, this roadster introduces an increased elegance within the Bugatti range. In the following year, Jean gets inspired by this avant-garde experience to equip in roadster the La Royale purchased by Armand Esders.
From 1931 to 1936, 14 of the Type 55 chassis are equipped with Jean Bugatti's roadster. One of them made in 1932 is estimated $ 10M for sale by Gooding on August 21 in Pebble Beach, lot 135. It is illustrated along with other cars of its time in the press release.
Despite the differentiation between sports and competition models, the car for sale had entered the Mille Miglia in 1932. Piloted by Achille Varzi who was then an official driver to Bugatti, it had to stop after the piercing of the fuel tank by a rock.
This car retained a high level of authenticity. It was completely dismantled for a careful restoration. The original engine and gearbox, replaced by replicas during the re-assembly, are included in the auction lot.
1932 The Choice of a Rothschild
2020 SOLD for $ 7.1M including premium
Victor Rothschild, heir to the barony of the British bankers, is not mistaken. Aged 21, he is a student at Cambridge where he leads a playboy life. He does not order La Royale or La Petite Royale but a Super Sport Jean Bugatti, which is assembled in August 1932. In 1936 he will be the very first of the three customers of the Bugatti Atlantic.
The 55 Super Sport generates passions up to current day. In 1985 Dr. Edmonds, a physicist at Boston University, learned that the Type 55 ex Rothschild was going to be auctioned at Sotheby's in London. He jumps into a Concorde and becomes the owner of the wonder for £ 440K, at the extreme limit of his financial possibilities, beyond the maximum price he had himself set.
Edmonds puts the car back into working condition with all its original equipment. In 1993 his Bugatti is First in class at Pebble Beach. He will never part with it. From his deceased estate, it is estimated $ 6.5M for sale by Bonhams in Amelia Island on March 5, lot 123.
Another one of the 14 roadsters was sold for $ 10.4M including premium by Gooding on August 21, 2016. It had been entered as a works car in the 1932 Mille Miglia and had been maintained in matching numbers.
Let us also refer to a Type 55 with a SuperSport bodywork with doors by Figoni, sold for € 4.6M including premium by Bonhams on February 6, 2020. It had been for 56 years the favorite car of its recently deceased owner.
1932 The Road of Elegance
2020 SOLD for € 4.6M including premium
The production of the 55 begins in 1932. One of the very first customers is Guy Bouriat, who targets Le Mans. His car, ready just in time for this competition, is viewed as the best representative of French industry against the Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 which has the same engine displacement and is also supercharged.
A stone from the road pierces the tank, ending this first outing. Bouriat sells the car immediately to Jacques Dupuy. The new owner is the son of the late Paul Dupuy, a press boss who organized motor sport events in the 1910s for Le Petit Parisien and created in 1920 the weekly Miroir des Sports.
Jacques does not want to keep the original bodywork that had been specially built to meet the demanding regulations of Le Mans. He also does not want the doorless roadster designed by Jean Bugatti. His car is bodied according to his drawings as a two-seater Supersport by Figoni.
Jacques Dupuy leads his 55 until 1936 in picturesque events typical of that time : stage road races, hill races, kilometer start, braking. He wins the Paris-Nice composite competition in 1933.
The contests of feminine elegance are not waived. With this Bugatti driven by a mechanic in livery and accompanied by two dogs, the comtesse de Rivals-Mazères is awarded a gramophone at the Concours d'Elégance du Bois de Boulogne sponsored by the newspapers Fémina and L'Intransigeant.
This one-off 55 Figoni has kept a very good authenticity despite a serious accident in 1994. It is fitted with the original engine of another 55. After 56 years devoted to the happiness of an enthusiastic owner, it is estimated € 4M for sale by Bonhams in Paris on February 6, lot 268. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1933 A New Strategy for Alfa Romeo
2016 SOLD for $ 12M including premium
This car had been sold for $ 6.7M including premium by the same auction house at lot 117 on August 15, 2010 and had been discussed at that time in this column. It had been illustrated in the article shared by Sports Car Digest
This Alfa Romeo is in an original condition which is quite rare for a car from that time, including its matching number engine and a great traceability of the other elements.
The nickname Monza originally applied to the short chassis version of the 8C 2300 since a victory in the Italian Grand Prix in the first year of the model in 1931.
The build of many early Monzas had been entrusted to Scuderia Ferrari which was a subsidiary of Alfa Romeo. It is not the case for the car for sale which is a rare factory built of 1933 coachworked by Brianza. It belongs to the third series when the 8C 2300 Monza had become a regular variant with a further shortened frame.
1933 had been a pivotal year for Alfa Romeo.
The 8C 2300 model begins to be replaced by the 8C 2600. Alfa Romeo goes under the effective control of the Fascist government desiring to make it a flagship of Italian industry. The brand does not maintain any more a works racing team despite the great success of the two previous years and a repositionment of the Scuderia Ferrari will be necessary.
Please watch the video shared by Gooding.
1933 A Convertible by Bohman and Schwartz
2018 SOLD for $ 3.85M including premium
I narrated it as follows in 2016. The short video shared by Mecum was released before the 2016 sale.
Born into a family of industrialists of the lumber, Walter M. Murphy sought fortune in California. In 1920 he opened a coachbuilding shop in Pasadena by relying on the professional experience of one of his associates. He had no competitor for luxury cars in the area and became the provider of Duesenberg cars to the wealthy Hollywood residents.
An advised businessman, Murphy had therefore no specific training nor a sustained vocation for car bodies. The very sudden termination of his company in April 1932 is not related to the economic crisis because the backlog was abundantly filled. Murphy had lost a lot of money in an investment and felt the need to change his activities. He will become in the following year a major dealer for the Standard Oil Company.
The buyer of his workshop is unable to maintain the business. This is an opportunity for two former employees of Murphy, Bohman and Schwartz, to join their skills for processing the contracts unfinished by their former boss and for proposing the transformation of bodyworks from all brands.
The actress Marie Dressler briefly owned a convertible sedan assembled by LeBaron on a Duesenberg Model J long wheelbase which was the top end as a luxury chassis at that time. Her car was bought in 1933 by the film producer and director Roy Del Ruth.
Much younger than Dressler, Del Ruth expects a more modern look. He commissions to Bohman and Schwartz the transformation of his Duesenberg into a roasdster. This specific order makes this car the only example of a Model J LWB convertible coupe by B and S.