David Gooding was all smiles Thursday as he ambled through the tents of his company’s Amelia Island collector car auction, where about 80 vintage vehicles beckoned to onlookers.
The seventh annual Gooding & Company sale is dominated this year by Jerry Seinfeld’s consignment of 16 glorious Porsches and two early-’60sVolkswagens from his personal collection. Auction watchers are waiting with anticipation to see how the celebrity ownership effects the values of his cars, many of them already rare and highly desirable models in pristine condition.
Gooding, founder and president of the auction house, glanced around the collection and said simply with a wave of his hand, “Isn’t this something?”
But there are many other superb automobiles that will cross the block today during the Gooding auction. Narrowing my favorites was no easy task since there are very few of the Gooding cars that I wouldn’t mind taking home.
But here is what I came up with as my choices:
1958 Porsche 356 A 1500 GS/GT Carrera Speedster (Lot 46) By far my favorite of Seinfeld’s Porsches, this twin-cam beauty is not only the greatest of the Speedster species, with its rare alloy panels and racing upgrades, its painted a luscious factory color called Auratium Green.
1966 Abarth 1300 OT Periscopio (Lot 60) Race car too hot? No problem, said race-tuning pro Carlo Abarth. Just add a “periscope” on the roof to direct cool air inside. But the distinctive scoop is only part of the diminutive racer’s charm, or its winning ways.
1973 Porsche 917/30 Can-Am Spyder (Lot 44) At the other end of the competition spectrum is this Seinfeld gem, an endurance racer powered by a monster flat-12 boosted to 1,200 horsepower by twin turbochargers. Just the thing for a relaxed day at the historic races. Valued at $5 million to $7 million.
1931 Duesenberg Model J disappearing top convertible coupe (Lot 22) Here’s a Full Classic in the grandest sense fitted with an exuberant Murphy body. The Duesenberg Model J was the result of E. L. Cord’s effort to build the finest automobile in the world. Hard to argue with its success.
1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider (Lot 69) Even with Seinfeld’s star power, this is the star of the Gooding auction and hard to pass up as a chosen one. Valued between $15 million and $17 million, it is one of only 37 produced with covered headlights, and it has had just three owners. A red roadster with tremendous presence.
1951 Volkswagen Beetle (Lot 78) Coming back down to earth, this bug is a very early model that has been lovingly restored to original specifications, including its hard-working 25-horsepower four banger and unadorned body. VW fans flip over these.
1936 Cord 812 Custom Roadster (Lot 77) Although some folks might cry foul for messing with designer Gordon Buehrig’s masterpiece, this customized Cord looks terrific with its cutaway doors.
1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso (Lot 71) Speaking of masterpieces, this coupe has one of my all-time favorite body designs, designed by Pininfarina and built by Scaglietti. The Lusso is the luxury road version of the V12 race cars of the era. Simply beautiful in every way.