The 1932 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster is one of the stars of the Gooding auction in Pebble Beach | Bob Golfen
So there you are, a kid in some kind of fantasy candy story, stacked high with all manner of sweet goodies, and you want them all. But you can only have a few of them and must leave the rest. What an ordeal.
That’s what I faced wandering around the motorized goodies at Gooding & Company’s auction preview in Pebble Beach, California, trying to pick among the mouth-watering collection of collector cars that will cross the block this weekend. If I could have only a few of them, which ones would I choose?
Trying not to rate them according to their values, although some of these are considerably pricey, or even which ones might be most attractive to a big-money collector, I tried to cut a swath of favorites among the cars I saw under the tent. I know I missed a few (the 1961 Maserati 5000 GT “Indianapolis” coupe and the 1959 Ferrari California Spider come to mind), but here’s what I came up with:
1932 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster One of the stars of the Gooding show, this achingly beautiful classic roadster was designed by Jean Bugatti, the talented son of Ettore, and is considered to be among the grandest of all Type 55s. I’m pretty certain my too-tall self wouldn’t fit behind the wheel, but it would look great in my living room. Estimated value: $10 million to $14 million. That could be a problem.
1935 Auburn 851 SC Boattail Speedster Always a favorite from the classic era, this stylish Speedster looks great in silver with its luscious tapering tail end. I love the way the small fabric top perches on the body. Add to its sporting majesty a supercharged engine, and this one is hard to resist. Valued in the million-dollar range.
1967 Mazda Cosmo Sport One of the few true collector cars from Japan, the Cosmo Sport rings my bell with its unique styling that looks like the designers threw at it everything they could think of. It looks pretty great to me. The coupe is powered by the Wankel rotary engine Mazda adopted as a differentiator for its sporty cars. This home-market example comes in right-hand drive.
1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta To my eye, this is among the top few most gorgeous automobiles ever to touch asphalt. Its Pininfarina-designed body looks both aggressive and luxurious, as these cars were just at home on the race track as at the country club. And beauty is as beauty does, with its booming V12 engine and superb maneuverability. Estimated value right up there at $10 million to $12 million.
1963 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint OK, here’s another sad tale of one that got away. Back when these were still pretty cheap, I came within a sneeze of buying an identical blue Sprint in an after-auction sale. Someone beat me to it. For all I know, this is the same Alfa, and when I saw it at Gooding, it made me wince. These are wonderful little cars, and built to drive con brio.
1955 Porsche 356 Speedster In bright white, this little round car looks like a sparkling egg on wheels. The Speedster is a longtime dream car for me, being a 356 addict and all, but they’ve gone off to the great beyond in pricing, at least in my world. This beautifully restored Porsche has an estimated value of $350,000 to $425,000. When did that happen?
1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza We’re climbing the car-value Mount Everest again with this superb classic race car, backed by a terrific history of road-racing successes and car-show awards. With a light patina of use, no doubt from lots of historic racing and vintage-car road tours, the Alfa sports a body designed by Brianza and was actually the last factory-built 8C 2300. The estimated value is… well, if you have to ask…
1958 Porsche 550A Spyder Another fabulous race car, although this one would be just as happy carving some of the mountain roads that surround Monterey. For early Porsche fanatics, this is one of those Holy Grail cars. Gooding’s website notes questions about the car’s history, but nonetheless, it’s one I would like to take home, if only I could cough up the estimated value of $5 million to $6 million.
1955 Lancia Aurelia B24S Spider America The Aurelia is an awesome sports car and boulevard cruiser, an attractive two-seater that you could take on a cross-country trip without feeling beat up at the end of the day. Lancias have flown up in value during the past few years, and this lovely blue car with a red interior has a high value approaching $2 million.
1948 Maserati A6/1500 Sport Almost missed this one, a subtle but superbly beautiful coupe with racing history and a body by Pininfarina. I dig cars from this era, especially the Italian masterpieces with their lovely proportions, and this Maserati does it for me. Naturally, its value sails into the seven figures.
1974 Ducati 750 Super Sport With a mighty V-twin engine motivated by the mythic performance enhancement of desmodromic-valve actuation, this magnificent superbike is one of just 88 imported to the U.S. for 1974. The café racer is a performance icon of its era, and I wanted to climb on and rocket away from the auction tent, but I thought maybe the Gooding people would disapprove.