The Finest Automobile Auction makes its live-auction debut June 11 when it stages a collector car sale in conjunction with The Elegance at Hershey, an annual concours d’elegance held at the famed Hershey Hotel in Pennsylvania.
“The efforts are going really well,” Finest founder Bradley R. Farrell told Classic Car News.
Farrell, a car collector with a personal passion for pre-war French vehicles, was involved in the Keno Brothers’ auction late last year in New York City and launched his own company and staged an on-line sale earlier this year. The Finest also has a live sale scheduled September 17 at Aspen/Snowmass in Colorado.
“We already have 100 bidders registered,” he said, adding that most bidders don’t sign up until the days just before the auction begins.
One thing different those bidders will experience is that instead of the traditional printed auction catalog — large and heavy to haul around — they receive hand-held tablet computers with the catalog already downloaded.
But wait, there’s more…
Through the use of GPS technology, when a bidder and table approach within two feet of any of the vehicles on the docket, the table automatically pops up information about the car.
Farrell said he expects the technology to be a “wow factor” to more mature bidders while catering to a younger generation of potential buyers.
Farrell also said bidders can use their tablets to place pre-bids on cars even before the auction begins, and can use them to continue bidding on cars that do not hammer “sold!” at the sale.
The docket includes some 100 cars, several of them from the JWR (John W. Rich) collection.
Featured vehicles include (with pre-auction estimated values in parentheses):
- A 1949 Maserati A6 1500 coupe (chassis 078) owned after World War II by Lemuel Ladd, an early member of the pioneering Automobile Racing Club of America and proprietor of the Oak Hill Garage in Boston, when Ladd was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army. The car came to the U.S. when acquired in 1963 by David Chopourian, who didn’t sell the car until 2003, when it was purchased and restored in Italy. The car has a FIVA identity card and participated in the 2013 Mille Miglia. ($675,000 to $700,000)
- The one-off 1939 Bentley Mark V three-position drophead coupe with Saoutchik coachwork originally built for an Egyptian princess, who didn’t take delivery because of World War II. The chassis then went to another owner who had Saoutchik create the drophead coachwork. The car later came to the U.S., but then went back to England under the ownership of Charles Howard, a prominent collector who had it restored. The car eventually became part of the John W. Rich collection and has been shown at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. ($850,000 to $1.2 million)
- The one-off 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Norrmalm cabriolet with bodywork by Normal of Sweden and its designer, Johan Oscar Olhager. According to the Finest, the car’s original owner was flamboyant Max Gumpel, a Swede and close friend of Greta Garbo. Gumpel had the car equipped with an oversized Diana hood mascot and with seating for three — a man and two women. ($950,000 to $1.3 million)
- A 1927 Bugatti Type 38A Grand Sport, one of 39 originally delivered with a supercharged straight-8 engine. The car has racing history, is from the JWR collection, which handled the restoration, and was shown at Pebble Beach in 1993. ($400,000 to $600,000)
- A 1952 Siata 300BC sports spider, only the third built and originally owned by Henry Wessells III, a founding member of the Vintage Sports Car Club of America, who raced the car at Giant’s Despair, Watkins Glen and other venues. ($350,000 to $425,000)
- A 1943 KDF Type 60 Beetle, originally used by the chief of the Red Cross in Berlin in 1943, according to The Finest research. The car was discovered in Poland in 2000 and was restored in Germany. ($275,000 to $350,000)
Also on the docket, and offered at no reserve, is a vehicle that Farrell said is drawing a lot of pre-auction interest. It is a 1991 Subaru Sambar 4×4 fire truck, a small vehicle formerly used by the Japanese village of Sakae-mura. The truck was imported to the U.S. in May 2014.
For more information and to see the entire docket, visit The Finest website.