The 2016 RM Sotheby’s, Bonhams, Gooding & Co. Auctions in Monterey, California
Featuring a 1994 Porsche 964 Turbo S 3.6 Flachbau sold at $1,100,000
Featured Car: 1994 Porsche 964 Turbo S 3.6 Flachbau
Grand Prix White over Cashmere Beige leather interior. 3.6L, SOHC flat-6, 385 hp, five-speed manual transmission. Offered with its original window sticker still affixed as well as all of its books, tools, spares, and Certificate of Authenticity. Fewer than 40 miles on the odometer. One of 39 U.S.-spec examples, one of two finished in Grand Prix White. A time capsule Porsche, virtually "as new" in every aspect.
The Story Behind the Sale
When talking about rare '90s-era Porsches, the RS and Speedster models often dominate the conversation, with those cars gaining in both popularity and price of late. Far fewer people are aware that the Flachbau even exists. Two versions of the uber-rare 964-series 911 Turbo S were built by Porsche Exclusive between 1992 and 1994 - the Leichtbau and the Flachbau. The first was a so-called "lightweight" version using standard-looking bodywork and a modified 3.3-liter Turbo engine but boasting fairly major weight reduction of some 400 lbs. These models had aluminum doors, thinner glass and carpets, a carbon fiber luggage compartment, and deletion of rear seats, air conditioning, power steering, sound deadening and underbody protection.
The Flachbau — "flatnose" — Turbo S wasn't as focused on reduced weight as it was on looking different. The nose was the most obvious change. While Japanese-spec cars, internally designated X83, featured the familiar "slantnose" bodywork as the previous Porsche 930S, Rest-of-World (ROW, which includes Europe and parts of Asia) and North American versions (designated X84 and X85, respectively) got unique 928/968-style pop-up headlamps. These Flachbau cars also used the later 3.6-liter Turbo X88 code engine with unique camshafts and cylinder heads, special tuning of the valve train, fuel injection, and ignition systems, and increased boost pressure from a larger turbocharger. A total of roughly 385 horsepower was the end result. Just 10 cars were built for Japan, 27 for ROW and 39 for North America.
Time capsule" cars like this one appear a few times per year. Often they are Fords or Chevys, less often an interesting car or an exotic. Sometimes put away when new by the original owner, occasionally a dealer leftover, or a car that has an interesting back story such as a death, divorce or business dissolution. This car was acquired new by the Blackhawk Collection of Danville, California in 1994 and then sold sometime later to the vendor who brought it to this auction. Less than forty miles on a car isn't necessarily a good thing mechanically, so the vendor had a marque specialist perform a service that included fluid changes, a new battery, drive belt, fuel pumps and hood shocks. To complete the package, the sale of the car also includes the factory owner's folio and additional spare parts still wrapped in plastic from the factory.
Pre-sale estimate on this was $1,400,000-$1,800,000, but it's doubtful that anyone was disappointed at the final selling price of $1,100,000. Also doubtful is the fact that there is another one of these hidden out there somewhere with similarly low miles. Jerry Seinfeld's car sold at Gooding & Company's Amelia Island sale earlier this year for $1,017,500, but that car had over 12,000 miles on it. That's certainly not high mileage, but it's not delivery miles, either. This Flachbau truly is one of a kind and although it might not be the centerpiece of a Porsche collection, it certainly is an attention demanding automobile. The only question left is whether the new owner can resist the temptation of actually driving it.
1983 Aston Martin Lagonda
Sold at $90,200
Black over black leather interior. 5.3L, 289-hp, DOHC V-8. Three-speed automatic transmission. Just 7,567 (claimed) actual miles. Mostly all surfaces in original condition on this two-
owner Lagonda. Offered with an Aston Martin Heritage Certificate, original papers, books, and tools.
In the 1980s, one of the most exotic cars on the market was the Aston Martin Lagonda. With wedge-era sheetmetal, a luxurious, space-age interior, and a cost higher than most contemporary Italian exotics, many Lagondas were used then as high-speed limousines for predominantly Middle Eastern buyers. Lagondas had often been derided as impossible to keep running or to fix, and values had suffered. With each passing day the Lagonda's value seems to be creeping up, as more owners are willing to invest the money to maintain their cars and keep them on the road for years to come.
1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SL
Sold at $170,500
Tunis Beige with black hardtop over cognac leather interior. 2.8L, 170-hp, SOHC I-6. Four-speed automatic transmission. Presented in excellent condition throughout, this is a concours-quality car that has seen little use since its excellent restoration. Included in the sale is a new softtop.
Originally delivered to Beverly Hills, in the 1980s it changed hands and moved to the Denver area, where it has remained since. At restoration, a number of European-market features were added to the car, most distinctively the one-piece headlights replacing the high- beam/low-beam setup familiar to North America. This is huge money, even for a top-quality "Pagoda" SL such as this one. That said, it's not something we won't see more of in the future, as the reputation and stature of these cars continue to grow based on their handsome good looks, fair-mannered driving experience, and everyday usability.
Best Buy: 1955 Jaguar D-type
Sold at $21,780,000
S/N XKD 501
Scottish Blue with white trim over black leather interior. 3.4L, 250-hp, DOHC I-6. Four-speed manual transmission. Overall winner of the 1956 24 Hours of Le Mans, former Ecurie Ecosse team car. Very good to excellent paint, all trim is very good or better. Importantly, the car is not overdone with non-standard equipment or too much polish.
With vintage race cars, much of the value lies in its history, and you could argue that no D-type Jag has a better known or more complete history than this example. Since its Ecurie Ecosse days, it has only had two other owners and has been in a private collection for the past 16 years. Originality is the other thing collectors look for, and this car has retained most of its original bits since its race days. When all the stars align, auction magic can happen. This became the most expensive British car ever sold at auction. Best Buy? Yup. Check back in 20 years.
1974 De Tomaso Pantera GTS
Sold at $101,750
Deep maroon over black vinyl interior. 351 cu-in, 266-hp, OHV V-8. Five-speed manual transmission. The refinished paint is in very good shape. Black trim is in very good condition. Mostly original interior also in very good condition. Believed to have fewer than 30,000 miles since new. Well preserved.
If the history of the De Tomaso Pantera seems implausible, that's because it was: The car was built in Italy by an Argentinian, designed in Italy by an American, and sold by Lincoln-Mercury dealers in the U.S. By 1974 and the introduction of the GTS, sales had slowed though hundreds of cars continued to be produced into the '90s. Forty years later, the Tom Tjaarda-penned Pantera is truly having its day. With a Ford 351 Cleveland V-8, Panteras are responsive, fast, and evocative of an era when building all-new cars was much easier.
1968 Lamborghini 400 GT 2+2
Sold at $390,500
Amaranto red over Senape tan pigskin interior. 3.9L, 320-hp, DOHC V-12. Five-speed manual transmission. Unrestored, all original, currently not running. California black plates and just two known owners, the second since 1976.
There are barn finds and there are survivors. Unfortunately, the two often get mixed up. This car is much more of a survivor. The first owner took delivery in Southern California and, in 1976, sold the car to a new home in the same locale. By 1978, the car was placed in long-term storage in non-drivable condition. The big decision for the new owner is whether to simply get it running and do some light refreshing or go all the way and perform a full restoration. My vote would be to keep the car original, proudly showing almost 80,000 miles, but my vote doesn't count.
1953 Moretti 750 Gran Sport Berlinetta
Sold at $132,000
Red and black over black leather interior. 0.7L, 71-hp, DOHC I-4. Four-speed manual transmission. Well presented but not a show car, with signs of actual use through the years.
Post WWII, there were dozens of manufacturers building cars in Italy. A few of them became big (think Ferrari and Maserati), while others remained obscure. With only a few exceptions, all of them are sought-after collectibles. This Moretti could be used as a track-day screamer or might be displayed on the lawn at a car show. In any case, it's great value for the money for those looking for a car that is eligible for some of the best vintage events. Alternately, think of it as a three-quarter-scale '50s Ferrari; strip the badges and many wouldn't be able to tell the difference. A very cool car that appears to be well sold.
1967 Iso Grifo GL
Sold at $368,500
Argento Indianapolis silver over black leather interior. 327 cu-in, 350-hp, OHV, V-8. Five-speed manual transmission. Borrani wire wheels. Said to have a known and traceable ownership history since new. Coachwork by Bertone. Overall, pleasant enough, best described as an excellent driver but not a fresh-as-new showpiece.
There was a time when the word "hybrid" meant a European car with American power, which is exactly what this Italian-built, small-block-Chevy-engined grand-touring machine is. Iso built everything from tiny bubble cars to supercars, and you could argue the facts all day, but the Grifo was, to most, the best looking and best performing of the bunch. The passing of time has proven the Bertone-designed Grifo to possess a classically handsome yet forward-looking design that attracts eyeballs everywhere it goes. The price paid is reflective of the price of entry for this rare model.
1972 Nissan Skyline GT-R "Hakosuka"
Sold at $187,000
Gold over black vinyl interior. 2.0L, 160-hp, DOHC I-6. Five-speed manual transmission. Paint and brightwork in very good condition. The mostly original interior shows some light wear but is in very good condition. Restored in Costa Rica after being purchased in Yokohama, Japan.
This car traveled a long way to get to Monterey. Skyline GT-Rs are increasingly sought after, especially by a few of the now-wealthy members of the generation that grew up "driving" them in video games. Hakosuka translated from Japanese is "boxy skyline," and this is one boxy Skyline that drew lots of attention as well as bidder interest. There's quite a long list of fast (and furious?) Japan-sourced Skylines you could buy for the $187,000 spent here, but the buyer got a car he or she is likely never to see a duplicate of. Let's hope the adage "you can't pay too much, you can only buy too soon" applies here.