Bonhams has been around for a while, founded in 1793 in the U.K. before people ever dreamed that we’d be able to drive to Starbucks without horses. Now the horses are all under the hood, or bonnet as the British like to call it, and Bonhams has mounted its fifth annual collector car auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, which also did not exist in 1793.
Bonhams, which holds its sale Thursday, has an impressive selection of 115 automobiles that span 110 years of stylish motorized travel, and from across three continents: America, Europe and Asia.
Nearly 20 percent of the cars on offer are Porsches, mostly 911s, which are the current darlings of the vintage sports-car market. There’s a mighty row of 911s parked along one side of the lot, looking all the world like a throwback Porsche dealership.
But Porsches weren’t the only things that caught my eye at Bonhams, and here are six of the cars that sparked my imagination:
1953 Fiat 8V Elaborata (Lot 60) No brainer alert: this incredible coupe is the unmitigated star of the Bonhams sale, parked front and center as you walk into the main tent. With a luscious body designed by Carrozzeria Zagato of Milan and powered by a jewel-like 2.0-liter V8 engine, this Fiat is aching to be parked in my garage.
1936 Hudson Stratton Sedan (Lot 64) The grille’s the thing with this coachbuilt Hudson, which looks incredibly elegant and appealing. With right-hand drive, the story goes that this rare car was originally driven by the Governor General of Hong Kong, whoever that was. I suppose he wanted to stand out in the crowd.
1980 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ43 (Lot 96) Frequently seen at auction nowadays, where they have been soaring in value, Land Cruisers have become desirable collector cars as well as durable and tractable off-road workhorses. This rare long-wheelbase model has been extensively restored and wears an unusual fabric roof and side panels. I’d like to take it on a tough trek through the Arizona desert.
1967 Mazda Cosmo (Lot 40) A limited-production coupe and one of very few valuable classics from Japan, the Cosmo (yes, I would name it Kramer) was one of Mazda’s early efforts to dress its Wankel rotary engine in something appropriately sporty. A highly distinctive-looking car, to be sure, and one that I have learned to admire.
1967 Porsche 911S 2.0 (Lot 83) OK, I just had to throw a Porsche in here. Actually, I could have made my six picks from the colorful Porsche herd at Bonhams. Speaking of color, the sparkling dark-green hue of this first-series coupe looks fantastic, though it’s not a favorite among collectors. I’d take it.
1955 Jaguar XK 140 roadster (Lot 33) Here’s more green, although this classic British sports car wears a paler shade that accentuates its voluptuous styling. Powered by Jaguar’s lively 3.4-liter overhead-cam inline-6 with a four-speed transmission and electric overdrive, this roadster would be my choice for a long, spirited drive on back-country roads.