Launched Tesla roadster, car-guy astronaut were among those making headlines this year
As each year draws to a close, the ClassicCars.com Journal polls its editors and correspondents and conducts a vote to determine what we consider to be the top-10 stories from the collector car world during the past 12 months. That countdown begins tomorrow.
But today we introduce the series by sharing a group of stories that didn’t make the top-10 list but were significant enough that they shouldn’t be forgotten before we take a cup o’kindness up and sing auld lang syne:
Think what you will of Elon Musk, but instead of the usual ballast used for test flights, he mounted his own Tesla Roadster atop one of his SpaceX Falcon Heavy rockets and launched the electric-powered sports car into space.
While the Tesla and its mannequin driver continue their drive into eternity, car-guy astronaut Drew Feustel returned to planet Earth after a nearly 200-day mission in the International Space Station, from where he took some amazing photographs of his favorite motorsports racing facilities.
Also returning to the collector car scene in 2018 were British television personality and expert mechanic Edd China and auctioneers Spanky and Amy Assiter, who conducted the recent Leake Auctions sale in Oklahoma City.
Departing the collector car scene in 2018 were Australian auction house Mossgreen and the 1964 Ferrari 275P that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and was on the docket for Artcurial Motorcars’ annual Retromobile — until issues within the late owner’s estate caused the car to be withdrawn from the sale, where it was expected to sell for as much as $40 million, and where some thought it would become the most expensive car ever purchased at a public auction.
Prices being paid at collector car auctions bounced all over the place in 2018, in part because consignors had yet to catch up with the marketplace reality. For example, during Arizona Auction Week 2018, we figure at least $50 million went unspent when sellers refused to reduce their reserve-price expectations.
While that was happening in Arizona, in northern Florida, Mecum Auctions finally met Dana Mecum’s goal of parading more than 3,000 vehicles across the block at one auction — the final figure was 3,023. The Kissimmee sale also topped the $100 million mark, another of Dana’s goals.
Celebrity provenance boosted prices on a succession of cars at various auction venues, including a record-price for a mini-bike (John Lennon’s Honda CB750). Also on dockets were The Beatles’ 1926 Morris Oxford, the James Bond Aston Martin DB5 from GoldenEye, Keith Richard’s Ferrari Dino, Rod Stewart’s Lamborghini Miura, the ‘Kookie Kar’ hot rod from television’s 77 Sunset Strip, the Don Draper Imperial Crown from Mad Men, Bruce Willis’ Dodge Charger, vehicles previously owned by Biggie Smalls (still with a bullet hole in one of its seat belts) and Tupac Shakur, Jim Clark’s Lotus Elite, and several vehicles owned by various members of Britain’s royal family.
Also during 2018, there was a panic over tariffs and their impact on the collector car world, Chrysler introduced a new place to display its corporate car collection, and the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, where seemingly everyone from classic car owners to U.S. military personnel honed their skills, entered bankruptcy protection.
Tomorrow we launch our top-10 stories countdown, but before we do, we have to add one more note. Sometime in the future, and the perhaps not-too-distant future, the collector car community will look back on 2018 as the year of the electrification of classic cars, and especially to May 19 when British Prince Harry drove his bride, American actress Meghan Markle, from their wedding in a vintage E-type Jaguar roadster — but with batteries rather than petrol empowering their ride.
Such electro-mods also were present this past summer at The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, and electric concepts were arrayed at the Pebble Beach Lodge during concours weekend. Add on Aston Martin’s innovative development of an electric motor system that uses the original gas-engine motor mounts as a way to keep classic vehicles on the road pending future legislation, and it may be that future automotive historians will find electrifications to be the biggest story of the year 2018.