Nine Fine Finds At The 2012 Monterey Auto Auctions

Inevitably, Monterey's Car Week brings a number of exquisite, exotic automobiles not only to show venues, but also to auction. Though it's impossible to chronicle each and every piece of lust-worthy sheetmetal that will cross the block this weekend, we've rounded up nine of our favorites here for your enjoyment.

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1932 Daimler 40/50 Double Six Sport Saloon

Gooding & Company. Estimate: $3-4 million

What is it? Daimler’s top-tier luxury car, which was first launched in the mid-1920s. (no, not that Daimler, but the one later absorbed by Jaguar).

Wow factor: Proportions, of course! We’ve never measured a car’s dash-to-axle ratio in miles, but the 40/50 Double Six almost appears to make that possible. That long, four-meter wheelbase (which places the front axle ten feet in front of the driver), restrained brightwork, and low roof all make the car look like a rodder’s dream luxury sedan. If that’s not enough, there’s the matter of the magnificent 6.5-liter “Double Six,” V-12, which boasts both sleeve valves and seven-jet carburetors plumbed for oil, coolant, and fuel.

About this car: Only 26 Double Sixes were built over the course of ten years, but this is the longest chassis built. The bodywork, designed by Captain H.R. Owen and fabricated by Martin Walter Ltd, turned enough heads to earn it a victory at the 1932 Eastbourne Concours d’Elegance. Perhaps it was ahead of its time, as it was named Best in Show at the Pebble Beach Concours some 67 years later.

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1938 Alfa Romeo 6C 2300B Mille Miglia Berlinetta

RM Auctions. Estimate: $2.2-2.8 million

What is it? The slightly more affordable alternative to Alfa’s flagship 8C, but still special in its own right. In its second year of production, the 6C received a chassis re-work that blessed it with independent suspension at all four corners, while an update in 1937 cranked output of the 2.3-liter DOHC I-6 from 75 to 105 hp.

Wow factor: As with many cars of this class and era, it’s all about the bodywork. 6Cs varied drastically in appearance, running the gamut from stripped-down race cars to sedate four-door sedans. Arguably, few looked quite as good as the teardrop-shaped berlinetta crafted by Touring. Sadly, very few were built: Alfa made only 100 6C 2300s between 1934 and 1939, and Touring only transformed seven into shapely berlinettas.

About this car: This particular car, believed to be the 25th “second-series 6C 2300 B” built, spent most of its life in Argentina. It was imported to the country in 1940, and didn’t leave until the mid-2000s. Mille-Miglia-spec cars, like this example, were also gifted with plexiglass windows and Borrani wire wheels.

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1968 Toyota 2000 GT

Gooding & Company. Estimate: $400,000-500,000

What is it? Toyota’s second stab at a sports car, but the first with international sex appeal and something other than microcar-sourced, two-cylinder power. In fact, power came from a surprisingly exotic engine for a Toyota: 150-hp, 2.0-liter DOHC I-6 engineered and built by Yamaha.

Wow factor: The sinewy styling stops bystanders in their tracts. They’ll likely say they’ve never seen one before – not surprising, considering only 351 examples were built between 1967-1970.

About this car: Of those 351, only 84 were built in left-hand-drive form. This is one of only two sold new in the Philippines, and despite being restored in 2006, this 2000 GT has only 9000 km on the odometer and is believed to be one of the lowest-mileage examples in the world.

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1960 Plymouth XNR Concept

RM Auctions. Estimate: n/a

What is it? Apart from a dramatically-styled, asymmetrical sports car, the XNR show car was Plymouth's flashy way of showcasing components that would soon be used in the pedestrian Valiant compact sedan. The car rolled on a Valiant chassis and even used a fortified version of the 170-cubic-inch Slant-Six engine (tuned to NASCAR specs, no less). Apart from the dramatic lateral-finned fenders, that's about where the resemblance between the two stopped.

Wow factor: Chrysler designer Virgil Exner penned a striking roadster, which functions as either a monoposto or a two-seat runabout, thanks to a folding windscreen and a hard tonneau cover. The asymmetric styling stretches from head to toe, but reaches a fever pitch at the XNR's rear bumper, where the dorsal fin (which Chrysler called a "stabilizer") behind the driver is terminated with a star-shaped molding that doubles as a rear bumper.

About this car: This is the only XNR ever built. After it made the auto show rounds, it was sent back to Ghia in Italy, before it was sold to a Swiss client, who in turn sold it to the Shah of Iran. After that, it was sold to a Kuwaiti auto dealer, before it made its way to Lebanon. Karim Edde purchased the car 23 years ago, sheltered it from a violent civil war, and ultimately employed RM's restoration department to bring the car back to its formal glory in time for last year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.

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1968 Italdesign Bizzarrini Manta

Gooding & Company. Estimate: $1-1.5 million

What is it? ItalDesign’s very first show car. Heck, it’s Italdesign’s first vehicle ever, as it marked the advent of designer’s Giorgetto Giugiaro’s new independent design firm. It’s also a low-slung knockout of a supercar, despite the ungainly turquoise-and-orange paint scheme.

Wow factor: The tube-frame underpinnings – cribbed from a Bizzarrini P538 race car – are exotic in their own right, but the Manta’s fantastic bodywork is what literally stole the 1968 Turin Motor Show. Described as a “one box gran turismo,” the Manta’s front windscreen is raked at a steep 15 degrees, allowing it flow seamlessly into both the front clip and the rakish roofline. The car’s extreme width also allowed for a three-abreast seating configuration, which placed the driver front and center – much like the McLaren F1 that would come years later.

About This Car: Despite being a one-off vehicle – and featured on Italdesign’s Geneva show stand in 2008 – it hasn’t been owned by the design firm since the late 1970s. It was later adapted for street use and painted silver, but was restored to its original Turin show configuration in 2005.

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1970 Monteverdi Hai 450 SS

Gooding & Company. Estimate: $600,000-800,000

What is it? A slinky, Swiss super car that blended stunning Italian coachwork with Mopar muscle. Why yes, it does have a 426 Hemi; in fact, it’s squeezed beneath that massive bul just aft of the driver and passenger’s shoulder blades.

Wow factor: The monstrous Hemi is certainly one, but this car has incredible presence. The bodywork, designed by Trevor Fiore and executed by Carrozzeria Fissore, is slender and tapered, and the wide wheel arches flare out from the body's dramatic tumblehome.

About this car: It’s one of three Hais (and one of two 450 SS models) ever built. Legend has it after wowing crowds with the Hai at the 1970 Geneva Motor Show, company founder Peter Monteverdi determined the world wasn’t worthy – or skilled – enough to drive his mid-engine supercar. Only after a German client pestered Monteverdi enough was the original show car sold. The other two cars still reside in the factory-turned museum in Switzerland, so if you really, really, really want a Hai – consider this your only opportunity.

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1997 McLaren F1 GTR Longtail

Bonhams. Estimate: n/a

What is it? Oh, only a race-going version of one of the most legendary performance cars ever built. Rule changes applied to the GT1 class for the 1997 season forced McLaren to radically alter the F1 GTR’s bodywork, resulting in the so-called “longtail.” Despite the moniker, both nose and tail were elongated to provide more downforce, while the 600-hp, BMW-sourced V-12 also received amendments in an attempt to improve longevity.

Wow factor: Other than the fact it’s still a McLaren F1, it has to be the elongated bodywork and wild rear wing. If that’s still not enough, try the paint work – the orange-and-teal Gulf livery has been applied to many a race machine, but the navy-blue sides help make this a truly striking machine.

About this car: Of the ten stretched GTRs built in 1997, this car – chassis number 028 – was the last example built.  This car hasn’t been raced or track-tested since 2006, but McLaren has offered a complimentary head-to-toe post-sale inspection for the new owner.

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1998 Porsche 911 GT1 Street Car

RM Auctions. Estimate: $1.2-1.4 million

What is it? After getting spanked by the McLaren F1 at the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans, Porsche set about transforming its 993-series 911 into a true GT1 contender. In the process, it also crafted one of the wildest variants on the venerable 911 theme – and, in order to satisfy the FIA, 25 examples homologated for road use.

Wow factor: By today’s standards, the twin-turbocharged 3.2-liter flat-six’s 544 hp doesn’t seem all that impressive – after all, it’s almost matched by a standard 997-series 911 Turbo S. The car’s construction, however, is rather otherworldly. From the passenger compartment forward, everything is loosely hinged on the 993, but aft of the cockpit, the car’s bespoke tube-frame chassis was more akin to the Group C 962.

About this car: Only 25 road cars were built in 1997, modeled after the Evolution model fielded earlier that season. This is the only example imported to the U.S. under NHTSA’s “Show and Display” exemption. As such, you can legally register and operate it on public roads, provided you abide by the feds’ stringent by-laws. If this isn't quite your cup of tea, RM is also selling Mercedes-Benz's competitor -- a road-going version of the CLK-GTR LM -- at auction.

Photos provided courtesy of Bonhams, Gooding & Company, and RM Auctions.

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