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RM Auctions - Plymouth, Michigan | July 27, 2013

RM AuctionsphotographerDave Kinneywriter


1970 Fiat 500L two-door sedan
SN 110F3001725. Cream over black vinyl interior. 16.5-hp, 479-cc two-cylinder; four-speed manual transmission. Some dings and dents, good paint. Decent panel fit. Good chrome. Vinyl fold-back sunroof is a plus. Nice seat vinyl. Carpets, which could be original, are fair at best. Window felts are at the end of their life span. Overall, a driver.

This Fiat was consigned by Automobile Magazine editor-in-chief Jean Jennings. Who better to give us the story behind the sale?

"I was dead set against selling the Fiat, a special car I famously bought for my husband's fiftieth birthday. I say 'famously' because regular readers might remember that it starred in two of my Vile Gossip columns . . . and because it wasn't actually my husband's fiftieth birthday but his forty-ninth. My bad math.

"Italian car lover and friend Dr. Raymond Boniface (father of Bob, the GM car designer) found this perfect, unrestored, 1970 specimen for my gift right from the motherland, and I loved it dearly. But after eleven years, it became clear that it wasn't getting the exercise it deserved because we live on a farm.

"I admit to having been shocked at just how nicely the Fiat cleaned up at the hands of Stony Creek Collision of Ypsilanti, Michigan, prior to the sale. I felt worse and worse as the auction date approached, even though the people at RM made me feel quite special. They took gorgeous photos to go with an A. J. Mueller photo for the glossy auction catalog, and they promised I could drive the Cinquecento across the block.

I wore a hat of fish leather with a pheasant feather that poked out of the sunroof, and just before I fired up the Fiat for the last time, two small blond kids
ran up to it hollering, 'Mommy! Mommy! It's Luigi!' and threw their little arms over the hood. Could I feel worse?"

See video of the sale at JeanKnowsCars.com.

1. 1958 Pontiac Parisienne convertible
SN 8786733796. Blue and teal with blue top over green and teal vinyl. 280-hp, 348-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. Tri-Power. Continental kit. Excellent paint, chrome, and top. Very well-trimmed interior. Fully detailed under the hood. An excellent presentation.

For those who may be wondering, a Continental kit is an external spare tire mounted behind the trunk, usually on an extended-bumper platform. And, yes, the name comes from the first Lincoln Continental. But the Parisienne was all General Motors: for many years, Canadian Pontiacs, like this top-of-the-line example, were essentially U.S.-market Chevrolets with fairly convincing styling cues from American Pontiacs. This was a nice price for a rare car.

2. 1941 Dodge Series WC half-ton canopy truck
SN 81194934. Dark green with black fenders and black top over black vinyl. 82.5-hp, 201-cubic-inch in-line six; three-speed manual. Restored to a good but not great standard. Some wavy panels. Good paint. Scratches in the running boards. Good brightwork. Detailed under the hood. Nice wood in the pickup bed.

More fun than useful, unless perhaps you are in the fruit-vending business. It's just not big enough to become a food truck. Although this Dodge has more than a handful of visible flaws, it still sold in the "fun money" range, so no harm done.

3. 1957 Packard Clipper country sedan
SN 57L5701. Gold and white over gold vinyl and brown cloth. 275-hp, 289-cubic-inch supercharged V-8; automatic. A former high-point restoration, now with a few miles and some wear showing. Paintwork is still very good, but a spot is rising on the driver's-side fender. Scratch in the windshield, stone chip in the front passenger door glass. Some dents and dings in the stainless trim. Interior still looks the part of a fairly recent restoration.

One of the Packardbaker cars created after the merger of Packard and Studebaker. With only 869 made, you're unlikely to find another '57 Packard "country sedan," a.k.a. station wagon. It's still not too late to bring this past restoration back to its former glory.

4. 1961 Imperial Crown convertible
SN 9214109309. Dubonnet maroon with white top over white leather. 350-hp, 413-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. Very good paint. Excellent chrome. Very good top. Some light wear on the seats, excellent dash. A very expensive restoration on a car that is not easy to restore.

Let's get it out there right away; Dubonnet maroon is what you and I might call purple. Big American cruisers from this era can be expensive to restore -- and not just because of the massive size of the body, interior, and engine compartment. The chrome and all of those accessories rack up big bucks as well. This Imperial sold for more than twice its low estimate, but in the long run it would be foolish to think the buyer overpaid.

5. 1964 BMW 3200CS
SN 76409. Silver over red vinyl and cloth. 100-hp, 157-cubic-inch V-8; four-speed manual. Sunroof. Older paint is now showing its age. Chrome ranges from very good to fair. Interior has good and bad points; mostly it has age and use wear. Some modifications from new, including an engine from a decade-older BMW 502. A driver.

It looks like almost no one in the room either knew or cared about this car's potential, and frankly that is what was for sale here -- a BMW, with plenty of potential, styled by Bertone. Modifications such as the eight-inch Ford rear axle underneath a BMW could be counted as a major sin; in this case, let's just call it a practical solution until the correct one is found.

6. 1939 Ford Series 91C half-ton pickup
SN 184911704. Vineyard green over green vinyl. 85-hp, 221-cubic-inch V-8; three-speed manual. A few chips in the well-done paintwork; running boards are worn. Very good chrome. Interior shows well but is not fresh. An older restoration that was used and enjoyed -- now it has a nice driver quality throughout.

It's official. In the under-$50,000 classic-car market, the hottest segment is the pickup truck. In most cases, vintage applies to postwar, not prewar, but the spillover is such that everything with a cargo bed is selling well. To make a rusty old hulk this nice would cost as much as or more than the price achieved on this "Barrel Grille" Ford.

7. 1956 Continental Mark II
SN C56C2255. Starmist white over red and white vinyl. 300-hp, 368-cubic-inch V-8; automatic. Air-conditioning. Very good paint. Most brightwork is good to very good, but some small bits are weak. Good glass. Good door gaps. Seats have been covered in vinyl. Restored to just better than driver quality overall.

Those vinyl seats really hurt; the Mark II -- the only model in Ford's short-lived Continental brand -- was famous for being available only with Scottish Bridge of Weir leather when new. It's OK to find your leather from cows that don't speak with a Scottish accent, but the stuff that comes from a petrochemical process shows potential buyers that you cheaped out.

8. 1940 Cadillac Series 72
seven-passenger formal sedan
SN 7321351. Cavern green with black top over black leather (front) and tan cloth (rear). 140-hp, 346-cubic-inch V-8; three-speed manual. Indicated mileage: 68,000. Lots of chips in the older paint, which is claimed to be original. Brightwork has needs; grille is scratched and pitted. Said to be one of eighteen built and the only running survivor.

Formerly owned by the See's Candies family and delivered new in California. Formal cars and town sedans were built for the chauffeured set. After World War II, it was all about driving the car yourself, including for rich folk. An interesting piece from an era
that came and went and is unlikely to come back again.