Highlights from RM Sotheby’s Wacky Elkhart Collection Auction Sales
A cool $44 million is set aside to appease fraudster’s debt collectors.
After more than 2,500 bidders from 53 countries duked it out with checkbooks and bid paddles, the fascinating car collection of Indiana-based fraudster Najeeb Kahn is officially broken-up, with the roster of impressive collector vehicles now scattering to the globe's farthest reaches. When the phones stopped ringing and the online bidders stopped clicking, the final sale tally for RM Sotheby's Elkhart auction was an impressive $44.4 million—a sum funneled directly to the U.S. federal team handling the financial fire Kahn left in his fraudulent wake.
Regardless of the shady source, the so-called Elkhart Collection is one of the most eclectic, comprehensive, and well-rounded set of cars ever offered as a single sale. There was genuinely something on the docket for everyone, no matter your preferred nationality, decade, or price.
RM Sotheby's Elkhart Auction: Top Sellers
Predictably, a mid-century Ferrari claimed the most greenbacks. The 1952 Ferrari 225 S Berlinetta with coachwork by Vignale hammered to a new home for a sale-topping $2.8 million, with in-period race history and well-documented ownership history driving the final bid.
The next most expensive lot was one of three Fiat 8Vs up for grabs, with the fantastically jet-age Ghia-bodied 8V Supersonic raking in just more than $2 million. The other two 8Vs claimed $907,000 and $775,000 each, a significant discount compared to the Ghia 8V thanks to wearing gorgeous but admittedly less striking Vignale bodies.
A trio of continuation Jaguars populated the top ranks as well, setting a market precedent for the re-issued Jags. The Elkhart Collection featured a full set of the continuation cars, including a 1955 D-Type ($1.325 million), 1957 XKSS ($1.985 million), and a 1963 E-Type Lightweight ($1.7 million), substantial discounts compared to what the real, original McCoys go for.
Elsewhere, blue-chip staples like an impeccably restored Lamborghini Miura ($1.16 million), a pair of Iso Grifos, an Aston Martin DB5 "Vantage Spec" ($852,000), and a 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ($1.5 million) added another few million to the final tally.
RM Sotheby's Elkhart Auction: Cars of Note
We can't stress enough just how impressively varied this Elkhart collection was. Alongside the Euro-centric heavy hitters mentioned above, this was also a significant sale for vintage Japanese metal. Notably, a cluster of minty-fresh Hondas stood out, starting with a 1966 Honda S600 roadster ($31,360), a 1969 Honda S800 roadster ($50,400), and 1966 Honda S600 coupe project ($39,200). A zippy little 1972 Honda Z600 ($25,760) and 1970 Honda N600 ($34,720) rounded out the Hondas, while a pair of FJ40s and a fabulous red 2000GT represented Toyota. Speaking of that 2000GT: It made the top 10, with a final sale price of an enormous $912,500.
A rare 2011 Tesla Roadster Sport claimed an impressive $140,000, a record-setting price that has us scratching our heads, and we're now extra-curious as to what the future holds for the collectible Tesla market (is that a real thing already?) in the far future. On the polar opposite end of the spectrum, a 1936 White Model 706 "Glacier National Park" Tour Bus chugged away after someone handed over a whopping $450,500. Considered one of the more iconic service/utilitarian vehicles in America, the distinctive red buses used for tours by the park have found a cult following among those who grew up taking the trip up north.
On the subject of service and utility vehicles, the sale included a baffling number of vintage trucklets, military runabouts, and mini-Jeeps. Our favorite has to be the 1968 M274 A5 ½-Ton 4×4 "Mule" ($14,560) that is essentially little more than a flat-load surface with a canvas seat, a steering wheel, and a set of pedals. Also sold were a 1993 Suzuki Carry ($7,840), a 1959 Cushman Truckster ($9,000), 1960 Mazda K360 ($34,720), and the adorable little 1963 American Motors M422A1 Mighty-Mite designed for air-drop use by the U.S. Marines. We're not the only ones who dug the Mighty-Mite, as it hammered for a hefty $47,600.
If you like Fiats, RM Sotheby's Elkhart Collection auction had you covered to an outrageous degree. Aside from the three massively collectible Fiat 8Vs mentioned above, the sale featured a selection of 20 meticulously clean Fiats of various age and desirability. Aside from the customary cross-section of 500s, 850s, and 124s, some Turin hotness made an appearance in the form of a 1960 Fiat-Abarth 750 GT "Double Bubble" Zagato ($168,000), a 1970 Fiat 850 Spiaggetta ($109,200), and a curvaceous 1970 Fiat Dino 2400 Spider ($145,600).
RM Sotheby's Elkhart Auction: Good Buys
Despite all of the money changing hands, there was a grab-bag of cars that were well-bought for great prices or that proved how undervalued they remain. Now, just because something was well-bought or is a good buy does not mean the car in question has to be cheap—it just means it presents a lot of value for the price paid.
With this in mind, our top buy of the RM Sotheby's Elkhart auction was an extremely clean 1949 DeSoto Custom Convertible sold for just $28,000. Talk about value for money—we're hard pressed to think of another weekend cruiser that has half the style and panache of this big DeSoto. Sure, its 112-horsepower inline-six won't win any stoplight drags, but this car is best enjoyed at less than highway speeds, anyway.
A 1952 Hudson Hornet in showroom condition sold for a criminal $23,520 is another steal, as is the very funky and very fresh 1961 Bedford CA Dormobile Caravan that made some camper's year at a totally reasonable $36,400. A 1960 Hillman Minx Series IIIA Convertible slid under the radar alongside a race-prepped and Union Jack'd 1967 Wolseley Hornet Mk III "Buzz Box" for $16,800 each.
On the upper end of the price range, a gorgeous 1955 Hudson Italia with coachwork by Touring went home for $362,500; a mighty sum to be sure, but most coachbuilt cars from the 1950s and 1960s are double and triple the price. The slow but outrageously stylish Italia is a great way to slide into something more aesthetically special than your average American classic, and is sure to make any cadre of concours judges swoon.
Also well-bought during the RM Sotheby's Elkhart auction was yet another Hudson, this time the race-ready 1917 Hudson "Shaw" Special" for $207,200. Well-presented open-wheel racers from the Pre-War period are hard to come by for reasonable money, and this looks like a whole lot more fun than a similarly priced McLaren 570S.
Finally, on the elegance front, a large and notably rare 1953 Bristol 403 Saloon sold for $61,600, complimented by a largely unrestored but well-presented 1957 Jaguar Mark VIII that closed out for $34,720.