HomeThe MarketAntique Brass Era cars, rare classics from pre-WWII set for Bonhams

Antique Brass Era cars, rare classics from pre-WWII set for Bonhams

1913 Mercer Runabout featured at Amelia Island, Florida, auction


Sporty Brass Era automobiles and pre-war classics from an Indiana collection will be featured during Bonhams’ Amelia Island, Florida, collector car auction on May 20. 

Highlighting the 13-car group is a 1913 Mercer Type 35K Runabout, which Bonhams calls “an early American supercar.”


“One of the most revered motor cars of its day, the Type 35 Runabout was the luxury version of the legendary Type 35 Raceabout, one of the first race cars for the road which competed in such early motorsport meetings as the Indy 500 and at Daytona,” Bonhams says in an auction news release.

“The Runabout shared the same 108-inch-wheelbase chassis as its sibling as well as its revered ‘T-head’ 4-cylinder engine, and the 1913 version also had the external 4-speed gearbox. However, it offered some comfort in the form of side doors, full windshield, a top and slightly raised steering column.”


There were about 400 Mercer Runabouts produced, Bonhams notes, although many of them were rebodied into the stripped-down Raceabout style, which was a popular configuration for the early versions of sports cars.

“This particular example is the only surviving Runabout with its original bodywork and externally shifted four-speed transmission,” according to Bonhams. The pre-auction estimated value is $1 million to $1.5 million.

Five of the Lange collection automobiles

The Brass and Classic Era cars are from the collection of the late Clem Lange and his surviving wife, Mary Lange, who were well-known for their early 20Th Century vehicles.  The Lange collection has a strong contingent of Indiana-built machinery, including Classic Era automobiles from American, Auburn, Duesenberg and Stutz, and Indianapolis 500-style race cars built by Knox, Inter-State and National.

The Langes purchased the Mercer at Bonhams’ 2004 Brookline auction in San Francisco.

“We are honored to be entrusted with this exceptional motor car once again and delighted to be offering it as part of this seminal collection which celebrates the early age of motoring,” said Eric Minoff, senior specialist for Bonhams Motoring.

1934 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet was bodied by Franay

The Bonhams auction takes place during the annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend, which this year was pushed back from its customary March timeframe because of pandemic concerns.  The docket features a wide array of early and pre-war cars, as well as more-modern vehicles.

“The line-up for the Amelia Island Auction is being curated to include some of the finest motorcars ever offered at auction, representing more than a century of automotive excellence and innovation,” the release says.

Another auction car to be offered from the Lange collection is a 1934 Bugatti Type 57 Cabriolet, the first all-new Bugatti of the era designed by Jean, son of the founder Ettore.  The Bugatti retains its bespoke Franay coachwork created for its first owner, German film star Hella Hartwich. Recently restored, the cabiolet is valued at $800,000 to $1 million.

The Lange cars also include a 1933 Duesenberg Model J “Sweep Panel” Dual Cowl Phaeton, ‘Category 1’ Certified by the Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club and fitted in the 1960s with a desirable original LaGrand Dual Cowl Phaeton body, and with an estimated value of $1 million to $1.25 million; and a 1912 Stutz Model A Bear Cat, the earliest surviving Stutz in existence and the 63rd Stutz built, valued at $650,000 and $850,000.

A rare 1935 Auburn 851 Boattail Speedster delivered new with right-hand drive for export will be offered without reserve from the Lange collection.  Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Club Certified, the Auburn is valued at $600,000 to $800,000.

The most highly valued car at the Bonhams’ auction is a 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500/540K Spezial Roadster, the marque’s top-of-the-line sports car of the 1930s, from the collection of the late Howard Fafard, and expected to reach $4.5 million to $5.5 million.

Also from the Fafard collection is a rare 1928 Mercedes-Benz 630K “La Baule” Torpedo, valued at $1.1 million to $1.25 million.

A couple of other featured cars on the Bonhams docket are a 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, with an estimated value of $1.3 million to $1.5 million, and a 1935 Godsal Sports Tourer, the only prototype produced by engineer Charles Godsal, which won a Best in Class award at the Amelia Island Concours. Estimated value, $750,000 to $950,000.

For more information about the Amelia Island auction, visit the Bonhams website.

Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen
Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.


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