Three rare, legendary sports cars at Gooding auction

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The Mercer Raceabout was a 1920s | Gooding/Chip Riegel
The 1956 Lancia Aurelia Spider America is an unrestored survivor | Gooding/Brian Henniker
The 1956 Lancia Aurelia Spider America is an unrestored survivor | Gooding/Brian Henniker

Three indisputably iconic sports cars, recently rediscovered in private collections, will be offered for sale for the first time in decades at Gooding and Company’s classic car auction during the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance weekend in August.

The cars – a 1956 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America, one of the last ones ever built and in all-original condition; a 1920 Mercer Series 5 Raceabout, owned by the same family since 1945 and the poster car for the famed Gulf Oil advertisement; and a rare late-model 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra offered for the first time in 30 years – received an early preview as Gooding prepares its usual high-end collection for auction August 16 and 17 at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center.

The Mercer Raceabout was a 1920s | Gooding/Chip Riegel
The Mercer Raceabout was a 1920s star| Gooding/Chip Riegel

“What makes these three examples truly special is they are new discoveries with impeccable histories of long-term ownership,” said David Gooding, founder and president of the auction company. The Lancia Aurelia Spider is one of the last-known unrestored examples of the legendary Italian roadster, recently unearthed after spending 20 years in a California garage. The highly desirable sports car is valued by Gooding between $900,000 and $1.1 million. “A most unexpected discovery, this Spider America has never before been shown, restored or offered for public sale and would be an ideal candidate to undergo a concours-level restoration,” the auction house said in a news release. A legendary piece of automotive history, the 1920 Mercer Raceabout was part of the final Series 5 version of the great American sports car, featuring such sporting touches as staggered bucket seats and a fold-down windshield. This Mercer was enjoyed by three generations of car enthusiasts in the same family from 1945.

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The Shelby Cobra is valued up to $1 million | Gooding/Brian Henniker
The Cobra is valued up to $1 million | Gooding/Brian Henniker

The Raceabout is finished in classic bright-yellow livery and valued from $300,000 to $400,000. The Shelby Cobra is one of only 453 examples of road-going 289 roadsters built from 1962-1965. A late production model, it features all of the improvements added through the years, such as rack-and-pinion steering, Stewart Warner gauges and more-reliable Ford electrical system. During the 1960s, the Cobra was raced in Southern California events, and then enjoyed a brief run as a vintage race car. Valued between $800,000 and $1 million, the car is being offered for sale for the first time in more than 30 years. For more information about Gooding’s Pebble Beach auction, see www.goodingco.com.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.