The Incredible Story about the Junkyard Bugatti.

·         Posted by CCW

Ettore Bugatti was a showman. You could even say at times a P.T. Barnum -type promoter, only instead of the biggest elephant in any circus he had the biggest luxury car, which (coincidence?) had an elephant as its radiator ornament.

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He had it designed at the end of the 1920s. The Type 41 was intended to be the most magnificent car ever created, a car fir for Kings.

Royalty had Rolls-Royces, Bentleys but park the Royale next to any of those and they looked small. Plus there were over 400 Duesenberg Model J’s so they were quite common by comparison. The popular rumour is that the car was created after Ettore took exception to the comments of a British lady who compared his cars unfavourably with those of Rolls-Royce. He would show them!

Adjusted for inflation, the Royale would have cost about $700,000 back then when a working man’s salary was $5,000 a year.

Accounts differ on if royalty ever partook of his car. One story is that he refused to sell one to poor King Zog of Albania stating, “The man’s table manners are beyond belief!” Another Romanian Royal had one, King Carol II , who had the second car rebodied to more closely resemble the Coupe Napoleon bodied by Parisian Henri Binder. The wheelbase was 169 inches. It tipped the scales at 7,500 lbs. The drum brakes are 18 inches in diameter and the cast wheels predicted the tall wheel craze by more than half a century by being 24″.

The engine was the biggest ever offered in any production car– a 12,763cc straight-8 later used in some French train locomotives. Another rumour is that the engine was originally designed as an aircraft engine but when the French Air Ministry didn’t want it, he decided to build a car around it.

It was a very modern engine in the details– SOHC and 3-valves per cylinder and rated at 300 hp. almost twice that of the Cadillac V16’s 165 hp.

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Ettore’s timing was terrible. He brought the car out just when Europe was going to hell. Only six Royales were built between 1929 and 1933, with Ettore only able to sell three to external customers, but incredibly, eight decades later, all six still exist. (And were reunited at Pebble Beach a few years ago, after exhaustive paperwork was filed to prevent them from being claimed by various claimants…)
Each has unique bodywork. The first Royale, in fact, was rebodied five different times.

This particular car is particularly interesting because it represents the Ultimate Barn Find. Chassis # 41 121, was ordered new in 1931 with a Weinberger body done in Munich by Dr. Josef Fuchs of Munich. an obstetrician, for the equivalent of what would have then been $43,000. But Dr. Fuchs became alarmed by the Nazi party and he and his family loaded up in the car and left, first for Italy and then, oddly, Shanghai (not, as it turns out, a good idea considering the Japanese subsequently invaded China).

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They ended up living in New York. The Doctor did not properly secure the car against the winter cold and the block cracked. This is not an engine you could just buy a new block for around the corner. So the car went to a junkyard. It is amazing it wasn’t cut up because by now it was WWII and there was a craze to melt down old cars for war material. (Another report says the junkyard sold it in 1946)
Fortunately in 1943 an engineer named Charles Chayne got a tip from a car loving buddy about a huge black car with yellow trim in a junkyard. Chayne got on the phone and bought #41 121 for $400 plus $12 tax. Now Mr. Chayne was not just an engineer but the head of Buick engineering at GM. He had thousands of engineers working for him so for them to cast a part from scratch, no problem. The biggest change he made was to have a new intake manifold made with four carburettors to make it more drivable.

He restored the car and eventually he and his wife Esther donated it to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, where it’s been on display for half a century. Ironically Chayne was also involved with the Pebble Beach Concourse and could have donated it to that event, but it is safe to say that Pebble Beach back then was just a small local car show, not the grandiose enterprise it is today, so he thought the Ford Museum a good recipient.

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He modified the car somewhat but not as badly as another Bugatti he owned –that one got a Buick aluminium block V6. He was a Purist, to be sure, but a practical man and the fact a car had an updated engine wasn’t as important to him as getting the car out and about.

The moral of the story is: when some buddy calls you and reports “a strange car in a junkyard” then pay attention. It could be another Royale-type car. The value today? I’d say $20 million would be reasonable for an opening bid….

Report by Wallace Wyss

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Best and Worst Playmate of the Years Cars

Each year Playboy awards its Playmate of the Year a car as part of her winnings. The first few years the cars were all painted pink, but that changed after 12 years, and now the cars or motorcycle remain in their OE colours. Of those awarded over the last 50 years some are now valuable classics and others are (close to) worthless junk. Let’s take a peek underneath and see which cars have risen most in value and which should just be hauled away.

The Good

1965 Playmate of the Year Donna Michelle

1965 Playmate of the Year Donna Michelle

Michelle was the first Playmate to receive a car as a gift from the Playboy, a pink 1964.5 Mustang. Today a first year Mustang convertible with 289 V-8 in great shape should pull in at least R650K.

1972 Playmate of the Year Liv Lindeland

1972 Playmate of the Year Liv Lindeland

Liv had the amazing good fortune to have won the crown in 1972, as the prize was a new DeTomaso Pantera. Designed and built in Italy with a mid-engine Ford 351 V-8, Panteras were then sold through Ford dealers. Without the provenance of Liv’s ownership, but in excellent condition, 1972 Panteras run at about R1,5 million today.

1965 Playboy Playmate of the Year Jo Collins

1965 Playboy Playmate of the Year Jo Collins

The second Playmate to win a car with her title, Ms. Collins also did quite well for herself. While the car she won looks like a sleepy English roadster it actually has a Ford 289 V-8 under the hood. The Sunbeam Tiger was sold for just three years and in relatively small numbers, just over 7000 in total. Because of its performance and its rarity, a non-Playboy, non-pink Tiger can sell for R1,6 million

1969 Playboy Playmate of the Year Connie Kreski

1969 Playboy Playmate of the Year Connie Kreski

If you were a Shelby fan, 1969 would have been a good year to win Playboy Playmate of the Year. The prize: A 1969 Shelby GT500 with 428 Cobra Jet V-8. If you’re in the market to buy a matching car to Ms. Kreski’s (without pink paint, of course), you’d be looking to hand over about R2,0 million

The Not So Good

Unfortunately not all Playmates of the Year were so lucky as to be awarded cars that quickly became modern classics. Let’s face it, there were some dogs in the bunch. No, not the women. The cars they were given. Read on:

1995 Playboy Playmate of the Year Julie Lynn Cialini

1995 Playboy Playmate of the Year Julie Lynn Cialini

Poor Julie. While the Playmate the year after her takes home a Jeep Wrangler and the 1997 winners drives home a Porsche, Ms. Cialini gets a rebadged Mitsubishi sold as a 1995 Eagle Talon TSI. If she went to trade in the car today, maybe signed a few autographs, and took a selfie with the salesperson, she might get R40000 toward a trade.

1985 Playboy Playmate of the Year Karen Velez

1985 Playboy Playmate of the Year Karen Velez

I would say that Karen has bad timing. The Playmates of the Year in both 1984 and 1986 received Jaguars. Instead Ms. Velez takes home the only Toyota ever awarded to a Playmate of the Year (if you ask me, she doesn’t look very happy about it). If she’d held onto the car, kept it spotless, she might get R60000 in a trade-in.

1977 Playboy Playmate of the Year Patti McGuire

1977 Playboy Playmate of the Year Patti McGuire

The car awarded to the future Mrs. Jimmy Connors was a 1977 Dodge Charger. It’s tough to estimates its value as available engines ran from the slant 6 to a 440 big block, but could be worth about R75000 to a collector. And if there’s anyone who can argue for a higher price its Jimmy Connors.

1988 Playboy Playmate of the Year India Allen

1988 Playboy Playmate of the Year India Allen

Ms. Allen was the recipient of what must be the oddest vehicle ever awarded to a Playmate of the Year. While at first glance it might appear to be a genuine Lambo, let your eyes stop for a second and you’ll notice all the proportions (of the car) are wrong. So Ms. Allen was awarded a replica, produced by a company called Exotic Dream Machines (no longer in business, surprised?). As best as I’ve been able to gather it’s a tube frame chassis with a Mustang II front end, Chevy small block, Porsche trans and suspension. While some of these cars when well-maintained have significant values , they require constant maintenance and repair or they’re nearly valueless.

V8 Hot-Rodded Vintage Ferrari

We're not sure concourse judges would appreciate this Chevy V8-powered '60s Ferrari GTE.

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There's nothing that classic car collectors seem to hate more than unoriginal. And if you're into raining on people's parades, bringing this highly modified V8-swapped vintage Ferrari to Pebble Beach might be a genius idea.

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This car, a real, original 1963 Ferrari 250 GTE,  According to the seller, the body was donated from a GTE being converted to a GTO. So now that you've got lovely Ferrari body, what do you do with it? Purists would keep it around to sell to someone that has all the underpinnings of a 1963 GTE, but needs a new body for it. But if you aren't committed to keeping it in the Ferrari family, you might as well throw everything you have lying around at it and create something vastly different than what it started as, right? After all, there are no rules when it comes to hot rodding. In this case, you can take the body from one of the most elegant and dignified Ferraris and make it very, very naughty. 

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According to the owner, this car's original 250-series engine was used as a donor for a 250 GTO replica build, leaving the shell without an engine. After three years and $150,000 of restoration and customization, the car was brought back to life as a Chevy V8-powered hot rod, with a Tremec six-speed, a custom Art Morrison suspension, adjustable coil-overs, a Ford 9-inch rear end, and some seriously sweet velocity stacks.

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Considering the average market value for a normal 250 GTE is hovering just under $400,000, we think this is a pretty good deal. Plus, you get to see the look on all those collector's faces after you roll by with that V8 rumble.

Aside from the giant blower sticking out of the front, it doesn't look that bad. The build quality seems to be excellent, for one thing. Don't hate it just because it's not a real. 

 

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Monterey Results from our Porsche Preview 2017

By : Ian Kilburn

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A couple of weeks ago we previewed a number of Porsche’s that were going under the Hammer at Monterey. In this article we give you the results compared to the Estimates.  

Hagerty reported that while that $317 million figure is better than was expected by its marketplace experts, it falls 6 percent short of 2016 results for Monterey auctions.

“Upper-end cars had become tougher to sell and affordable cars were the ones seeing the most action”

Interestingly enough, grouped by decades, cars from the 1980s and ’90s performed very well on the auction blocks, 

1970 PORSCHE   917K  

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Estimate: R195million – R240million

Actual Result: R185million

1994 PORSCHE 964 CARRERA 3.8 RSR

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Estimate: R13, 5million – R16, 5million

Actual Result: R12, 5million

1961 PORSCHE JUNIOR L108 TRACTOR

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Estimate: R675000 – R900000

Actual Result: R1 million 

Porsche 993 GT2

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Estimate: R14million

Actual Results : No Sale car withdrawn.

Porsche 911 2012 GT3 Cup Brumos  4.0 

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Estimate: 1st   Time for Sale

Actual Result: R6million

Porsche 911R 2016

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Estimate: R5milliom

Final Result: Unavailable

“Ifs”, “ands” and “buts” aside, the 2017 Monterey auctions were a solid success. All segments of the market were healthy, if modestly down from prior years. The top of the market is a slaughterhouse of competing auctions looking for the pinnacle of collectability, performance, style and rarity.RM Sotheby’s were the top performing auction house the kept a number of consignments in the pipeline for their sales in London and Maranello in just a month, not to mention Auctions America’s upcoming Auburn Fall sale.

Five Cars to Buy Right Now

The herd mentality has taken hold in the classic car market to some extent. A large number of people get the same idea at the same time and before you know it, values for a certain car have jumped 20 percent or more. It just happened with the Porsche 930 Turbo and the Ferrari 308. Here are some cars you would do well to consider sooner rather than later:

1.    Porsche 996 Turbo: As predicted three years ago, every flavour of air-cooled 911 Turbo is hot and getting hotter by the day. The 930s, 964 and 993 Turbos of the world are all six-figure cars for the right examples — it’s time to pivot and look at the air-cooled cars, we think. The 996 series has been tarred by the fear of intermediate shaft bearing failures that can take out an engine with no warning. But the Turbo used a different design and it’s bulletproof.

Porsche 996 Turbo

Porsche 996 Turbo

2.    Lamborghini Diablo: With the Countach soaring in value in 2014, how far behind can the Diablo be? A more fully sorted car than the Countach that still sports some outrageous styling (and the famous scissor doors) courtesy of the great Marcello Gandini.

3.    Third Generation Mazda RX-7: Japanese collectibles, particularly of the rare Japanese Domestic Market or “JDM” stripe, are rapidly appearing on the radar of collectors. With a lightweight chassis, twin-turbocharged rotary engine and drop-dead gorgeous looks, the few really nice survivors are quietly escalating in value.

Mazda RX7

Mazda RX7

4.    Jaguar XJS: The XJS had the unenviable task of following up the E-Type, and it was treated rudely by the press as a result. Almost 40 years after its debut, it’s now viewed as a handsome and impressive GT with the added cachet of a V-12 under the hood. Clean convertibles are starting to appreciate rapidly but the real sleepers here are the few 3.6-liter manual cars.

Jaguar XJS

Jaguar XJS

 

5.      1970-73 Datsun 240Z: It’s exciting that there are still good 240Zs to be found. With the Toyota 2000GT unaffordable and with the rare twin-cam JDM 240Z unobtainable look for a good, cheap 240s to finally dry up this year.

Datsun 240Z

Datsun 240Z

Cost of Owning Collectible Cars

The costs involved with buying, owning, maintaining and possibly restoring a collectible car or motorcycle can go beyond what you purchased the vehicle for.

These may not be extraordinary expenses, but they can add up. In most cases these are costs you may be clearly aware of but there are some that may be considered “hidden costs” which are always good to consider. The added expenses may certainly not be deal breakers but they can add up and should be made a part of what your total costs of owning the vehicle are. If you decide to buy and sell, then these added expenses will make a difference.

As with any investment, buying a classic car or motorcycle can be fraught with pitfalls. Buy correctly, and owning a classic car can be a terrific experience that can also reap a profit when it comes time to sell. Make a mistake, and a classic car can become a money pit that returns little joy and no profit. Keep a record of all costs associated with your investment. When and if the time comes to sell your classic vehicle you’ll want to know how many money you have in it.

 

Buying a classic car is an investment.

Like any investment you want to know what you are in for. If you make the right choices up front then the entire experience can be  fun and rewarding. Make the wrong decisions and you can create a money pit. Don't catch auction excitement and bid too high for that car or motorcycle. If you take meticulous care of the car and are careful about the improvements you make you may be able to show a profit on the car or bike at the end of your time with it. That might feel better than buying a new car and having it depreciate as soon as you drive it off the lot.

Shipping Your Car

If you decide to buy a classic car outside of your local area you'll want to consider transportation costs. There are many companies that transport cars and some even specialize in shipping collectible vehicles.

You can ship your car in an enclosed carrier or an open one. Enclosed will cost more. If you're buying an old car to restore then an open trailer or truck may do fine and save you money. If you've purchased a finely restored collectible then the extra money for an enclosed trailer is the right thing to do.

 

Insurance

The insurance costs are pretty much determined on how you will use your collectible car  Most large insurers will offer collectible car insurance. Types of collectible vehicles that can be covered include antiques and classic cars, muscle cars, exotic and special interest vehicles, street rods, modern classics and high quality replicasCollectible vehicle insurance may be a bit cheaper than you would think. Many people have put their classic vehicle on their normal car insurance policy when they could perhaps get a lower price with a separate policy. Some have found rates discounted by 20% to 30% or more by just mentioning that the vehicle will only be driven on Weekends or to shows, parades and special events. Specialty automotive insurers generally charge much less than standard insurers. 

Storing Your Vehicle 

Already have a storage area for your collectible vehicle? If so you'll save a lot of money. If you need to rent space that's enclosed then you'll need to add this to the expense of owning your car.

Restoration and Repair Costs

This category of expense is somewhat voluntary.

Whether you want to put R10,000 or R200,000 into a vehicle’s restoration is a decision you will make. Repair costs are something to determine prior to buying.

The car you purchase may not need restoration work or it may need little work. This is something you want to calculate upfront. If you decide that that the car is worther of a complete restoration have an expert or a restoration shop take a look at the vehicle prior to buying. Go over in detail what the costs would be with a professional.

How’s the engine and transmission? Have the car inspected by a professional mechanic if you are not mechanically inclined or take the car for a test drive.

Before you purchase that classic car check out the availability of parts. Many parts for vintage cars are amazingly easy to find, especially with today’s internet. Some other parts may not be easy to locate and can cost much more than you thought.

 

The bottom line is that there are a lot of Sweet Looking deals out there that may seem like Good Deals. Buying from a Dealer or Specialist Broker may seem expensive but remember they are in the industry and will go through a vehicle before selling it or putting it on the market. They will also know who and where the best Insurance, Transportation and the Correct Expert to do general repairs or complete restorations on your purchase.  

Alfa Spiders Should they be Worth More ?

By Ian Kilburn

In 1965, Alfa Romeo was faced with replacing the 10-year-old Giulietta models. The iconic 1954 Sprint coupe and 1955 Spider were modern, yet timeless, so there was much at stake. Pininfarina foreshadowed the Duetto with a bubble top concept at the 1961 Turin show, but the spider didn’t appear until Geneva in 1966.

At first, nobody thought the original design would endure, and by 1970 Alfa Romeo was trying update it. The result was the coda tronca (literally truncated tail, or Kamm-tail) of 1971, which disastrously compromised the concept, as today’s values confirm.

As the best 1966-69 boat-tail cars climb past R700000-00 their square-tailed successors are lagging behind in the early R300000-00 range for good examples. The advent of U.S. “rubber impact bumpers” and increased ride height in 1974 sealed the deal. The signature Alfa grille was overshadowed, and the “cross and snake” badge stuck on the rubber bumper.

Early carburetted cars were robust and quite durable, but the twin-cam engine was bumped from 1600-cc to 1779-cc in 1969, then to two-litres in 1972. Struggling to meet U.S. emissions, Alfa Romeo adopted the complex Spica mechanical fuel injection, designed for a diesel engine. Deeply divisive among Alfisti, if properly adjusted, Spica injection can be trouble-free but does not suffer fools gladly.

The Spider’s virtues do much to balance out its frustrations. Relatively soft coil springs and anti-roll bars produce neutral handling; worm-and-sector steering is precise, and power-assisted disc brakes are surprisingly good. The best element is the cockpit. Two Veglia instruments face the driver and secondary gauges are set in a central console. The wood steering wheel is stunning, but the gear lever disconcerting, as it projects almost horizontally.

Pre-1975 Kamm-back cars look better with small chrome bumpers, and European headlight cowls create an exotic appearance. The well-fitting top can be raised from inside the car. But sit in a spider before you buy one. The driving position in left hand examples is far more comfortable than the right hand versions.

Rust is all Spiders’ weak point. If the floors rust out, jacking points are compromised (or missing), while fenders rust at the bottom and the spare-tire well seldom collects water for long.

Engaging first gear can be tricky, and second gear synchromesh can be short-lived in the hands of clumsy drivers. Differential noise is common, but less noticeable with the top down. Cromodoro mags are a popular upgrade over original steel wheels in early ‘70s cars, but make sure the lug nuts are long enough for safety.

The Alfa Romeo Spider compares well against British Leyland’s failing efforts in the 1970s.Thanks partly to its five-speed gearbox, it’s much faster than the MGBs, with rubber bumpers has more structural integrity than the Triumph Spitfire, and more room than the appropriately named MG Midget.Finally, the Alfa’s exhaust note is unmatchable.

It soldiered on through the ‘80s, and the S3 got a new interior in 1986. Many Spiders were bought as weekend toys, and good examples can be found garaged.

Pininfarina undertook a major facelift with the long-tail S4 of 1989-93, replacing the black rubber bumpers and spoilers and restoring much of the original Duetto’s elegance. If you want an Alfa spider, the S2 is a sleeper – but probably not for long.

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Could Continuation Classic Herald the End of the Booming Market

Author: Greg MacLeman

 News broke this week that Aston Martin is set to build a limited production run of continuation Lightweight DB4GTs and, rather than get me excited, the announcement left me worried that history may be repeating. 

Of course, building replicas of once great cars is nothing new – kit car manufacturers and shed-bound amateur engineers have been doing it for decades – but when mainstream marques get in on the act, it all starts to make me a bit nervous. 

Aston Martin was one of the first firms to get in on the act back in the late 1980s. The booming market and sky-high values of the rarest classics, such as the DB4GT Zagato, resulted in a dilemma for those wanting to cash in on the unprecedented demand for a finite resource. The solution, it seemed, was simple: build more cars and differentiate them from other replicas by giving them the rubber stamp of approval from the factory. Enter the Sanction II Zagato, and later, Sanction III. 

Around the same time, Alfa Romeo also lent its backing to recreations of its more desirable post-war model, the 33 Stradale, which were expertly built by Giovanni Gioranengo. 

 

Both models immediately preceded the collapse of the market in the early 1990's, when rampant investment over inflated prices to a point that could no longer be supported. 

It all kicked off again in 2014, when Jaguar decided to build six new Lightweight E-types to finish its original 18-car intended production run. Each car cost £1m and quickly sold out, recently prompting the firm to turn its attention to the XKSS, which had its original production run curtailed by the fire at Browns Lane. Lister got in on the act, too, with its more affordable Knobbly recreations, and has recently announced its intention to revive the  1950's Costin. 

The latest firm to enter the fray (once again) is Aston Martin, which this week unveiled plans to build 25 new DB4GTs with a staggering asking price of £1.5m each. And it feels like a bridge too far. 

Jaguar’s Lightweight E-type and XKSS continuations number just 15 cars, each costing £1m. With both models impossibly rare and opportunities to buy an original so few and far between, getting the next best thing for one tenth of the price can just about be rationalized. 

But to pay £1.5m for an imitation DB4GT – one of a bloated 25-car production run – when the genuine article can be bought for around £3m just doesn’t make sense.

You won’t see any of these cars race at Goodwood thanks to a firm stance from Lord March, and they won’t be drivable on the road either – at least not in this country. That leaves the potential market limited to those who take part in the odd track day excursion or – more likely –  those who squirrel the cars away in the hope of turning a quick buck. Just like they did 25 years ago. 

Against a backdrop of faltering auction sales rates and a general cooling of the market, it’s left me wondering if we could be approaching another significant moment in the life cycle of the classic car economy.