HomeThe MarketDiscarded no longer, race cars cherished by collectors

Discarded no longer, race cars cherished by collectors


Jerry Titus' Pontiac raced in Trans-Am series and at Daytona | Russo and Steele photo
Jerry Titus’ Pontiac raced in Trans-Am series and at Daytona | Russo and Steele photo

One in a series of previews for the 2015 Arizona classic car auctions

Used to be, there was nothing less valuable than an old race car. Consider that rather than having to pay British taxes after the 1965 racing season, the six Shelby Daytona Coupes that beat Ferrari for the world championship were on their way to a garbage scow and to be dumped into the Atlantic Ocean. At the 11th hour, Carroll Shelby found enough money to pay those taxes and to have the cars shipped back to the U.S., where he sold them as used cars, and for as little as $800 each.

Things certainly have changed in the meantime. Today, cars with motorsports provenance can demand millions of dollars at classic car auctions, such as those being held next week in Arizona. Reasons include the fact that not only were the cars built in limited numbers but each is unique in its actual configuration, plus cars with racing history provide a ticket for their new owner to drive in vintage racing events and road rallies around the world.

For example, those Shelby Daytona Coupes. What Shelby sold then for $800 now likely would cost you closer to $8 million now, and owning one would get you invited to some of the best classic car events around the world.

Today, we conclude this series of Arizona auction previews with a look at some of the race cars available for bidding at the sales. And since the first of those auctions starts tomorrow and we need to wrap up this series today, we’ll also take a look at what we’re labeling the Arizona auction “oddities,” some of the concept cars and customs and whatchamacallits that will be crossing the blocks next week.

Listing the auctions in reverse alphabetical order, here are some of the racing cars being offered next week in Arizona:

At Russo and Steele, Lot 2140 is the 1968 Pontiac Firebird that Jerry Titus and Jon Ward drove to a third-place overall finish and a touring-car class victory in the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona. The car has been restored by former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott and has taken part in historic racing events from Monterey to Goodwood.

Also at Russo and Steele, Lot 2494 is a 1967 McKee Mk VII Can-Am racer, Lot 2071 is a 1959 Echidna sports racer and Lot 2235 is a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that reportedly once held a national quarter-mile record.

At RM, Lot 127 is the last Kar Kraft 1970 Ford Mustang 302 Trans-Am racer built for the Bud Moore team, Lot 143 is a 1965 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS Lot 253 is the first 2005 Ferrari FXX Evolutione produced. And then there’s Lot 250, a 1964 Ferrari 250 LM that RM expects to sell for eight figures. The pre-auction estimate is $9.5 million to $12.5 million on a car with an extensive racing history.

At Gooding & Company, Lot 21 is one of the five BabyDoll 1959 Morgan Plus 4 lightweights, Lot 38 is the 1990 Ferrari 641/2 driven by Nigel Mansell — and to victory in the Portuguese Grand Prix — during the 1990 Formula One racing season, Lot 135 is a 1960 Alfa Romeo Giulietta SZ and Targa Florio veteran, Lot 138 is a 1966 Porsche 906 Carrera 6 campaigned for several seasons by Racing Team Holland.

At Bonhams, Lot 121 is the 1948 Automobile Shippers Special roadster that raced in the Indianapolis 500 — with driver Bill Schnidler, who lost his left leg in a crash in the 1930s — and later went to designer Brooks Stevens’ car museum, and Lot 128 is a 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione that Scuderia Fillpinetti raced at Le Mans and several other endurance events.

Bonhams considers the Ferrari to be so significant that it prepared a second auction catalog just to feature and showcase that car.

At Barrett-Jackson, Lot 2510 is the 1949 MG TC that was the first car Carroll Shelby drove in a race; Lot 2083 is the Weinberger Homes sprint car driven at various times by Johnny White, Gordon Johncock and others; Lot 5035 is a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 convertible raced by Don Yenko, Peter Revson and Pedro Rodriguez; Lots 5039 and 5040 are 2000 Cadillac Northstar LMP racers; and Lots 5041, 5044 and 5045 are Ferrari Michelotto racers.

In addition, Lot 5048 is a 1968 Chevrolet Corvette L88 that won the GT-class pole for the 1968 24-hour race at Daytona; Lot 5054 is the 1953 Chevrolet Corvette prepared by Mauri Rose and delivered to Smokey Yunick and driven by the likes of Junior Johnson and others in several races; and Lot 5069 is the turbine-powered 1968 Lotus driven in the Indy 500 by Graham Hill.

Sky Commuter was a 1990 concept for flying to work | Larry Edsall photo
Sky Commuter was a 1990 concept for flying to work | Larry Edsall photo


We don’t mean oddities in a negative connotation, but you have to admit that the
cars that follow are unusual, and for the most part one-of-a-kinds:

At Russo and Steele: Lot 2030 is the 2007 Creative Workshop Sport Speciale SPCNS, a BMW V12-powered, late ’50s/early ’60s Italian-inspired modern sports car, and Lot 2403 is a 1958 Scarab SPECC roadster that was built in 2013.

At Barrett-Jackson, the Ron Pratte collection includes the 1954 Pontiac Bonneville GM Motorman concept car (Lot 2500), a Viper V10-powered 1936 Chrysler Airflow custom coupe (Lot 2521), the 1938 Lincoln Zephyr V12 street rod that won “America’s Most Beautiful” honors (Lot 2517), and the 1929 Ford “Alumatub” hot rod (Lot 2516).

Also, the 1936 Delahaye “Whatthehaye” street rod (Lot 2515), the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air “Chezoom” custom (Lot 2514), the 1941 Packard D’agostina “Gable” custom (Lot 2504), the 1937 Cord Westchester custom (Lot 2057), and the huge 2007 Blastolene B-702 roadster (Lot 2507).

And then things get really strange with Howard Hughes’ 1953 Buick Roadmaster with its unique air-filtering system (Lot 2503), the 1978 Tupolev N0007 Russian cosmonaut rescue boat (Lot 2019), and the 1990 Sky Commuter aircraft concept vehicle (Lot 2044).

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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