Among the diverse landscape of auction companies vying for buyers this week in Arizona, Gooding and Company’s annual auction held January 19-20 at Scottsdale Fashion Square combines the traits of a distinguished European auction house with California cool.
Auctioneer Charlie Ross’s distinct English diction pierces the air and demands the room’s attention, while color-man and company president David Gooding delivers a credible and sober introduction to each lot– a refreshing change from the bluster that characterizes some of the larger auctions in town this week.
This year’s catalog offers some interesting prototype and provenance vehicles that have the potential to be standout sales for Arizona auction week.
To choose from these standout offerings is a daunting task. What criteria do I use? Best value? Emotional connection?
Given this fantastic catalog, I am going with the fun method of “money-no-object.” Which six cars – given limitless funds – would I want in my garage, and which cars represent truly unique opportunities at this sale?
Here’s my list, and I am unapologetic for choosing mostly incredible coachbuilt Italian prototype cars.
1965 Ferrari 275 GTB Speciale
Entering the tent, I need go only 10 feet for my first choice. The stunning Ferrari is the only one of its kind bodied by Pininfarina, and the personal car of company founder Battitsta Pininfarina. Presented in stunning Acqua Verde Metallizzato, it differs from the Scaglietti-bodied cars with many bespoke design touches, including the deletion of the driver’s side quarter-vent window.
1951 Alfa Romeo 1900 C Sprint
For this selection, I’m going to ask you to do your eyeballs a favor and go to the Gooding & Company website for the sumptuous pictures that my lens could not capture. This early short-wheelbase coupe is a past Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance winner in metallic hazelnut with a wonderfully warm caramel-colored interior. Originally gifted to the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio for winning the 1951 Formula One World Driver’s Championship title for Alfa Romeo, it has airtight provenance through photos and factory records. I expect this car to soar through it’s high estimate of $700,000 at the final hammer.
1931 Bugatti Type 55 Roadster
This roadster is the first Type 55 built, and the only one completed in 1931. Like all Bugattis, every square inch of the car is a work-of-art, and this one has been completely restored by marque specialist Sargent Metalworks. As a prototype, many unique features are present in the Jean Bugatti design found on this example. This car has been held for decades in two consecutive collections, and it’s likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to acquire this landmark example.
1963 Iso Grifo A/3L Prototype
It’s hard to imagine how this Iso must’ve been received when it was first released, as its lines still look contemporary today. I’ve been aware of this car for some time, as it was once owned by a friend in the Midwest who is both a concours judge and restorer of fine Italian cars. The Grifo is arguably the best-looking Italo-American hybrid ever produced, utilizing a Corvette drivetrain with striking Bertone coachwork. This unique prototype is the Holy Grail for Iso fans.
1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series 1 Cabriolet
The silver droptop was the 1958 Torino Motor Show display car, and the 35th of only 41 Series 1 cars. Delivered new to a Saudi prince, this car has been in the hands of a recent collector for nearly four decades. With apologies to the Scaglietti-bodied California Spider, I prefer the cleaner and more-mature lines of this Pininfarina-Ferrari collaboration.
1953 Ferrari 212 Europa Coupe
Not all great Italian cars are red, and this pale-blue coupe is the epitome of Ferrari elegance. A very slight two-tone effect is achieved with a light-gray roof, which accentuates the body lines of the Pinin Farina coachwork. The 2.5-liter V12 engine and 5-speed drivetrain make the car capable of 120 miles per hour. Understated in color but delicious in details, this one is the grocery getter in my imaginary garage.