Six Cars to Watch at the Upcoming RM Sotheby’s 2017 Villa Erba Sale
An early look at the biennial auction
We've still got some time until the Concorso d'Eleganza at Villa d'Este next month, but RM Sothebys is busy preparing the auction docket for the sale accompanying this prestigious show. The full list of available cars isn't complete, but we found enough to get hot under the collar. Here are our six early picks from RM Sotheby's 2017 Villa Erba sale.
Aston Martin V8 Vantage Volante Zagato Coupe and Convertible
Toward the end of the 1980s, Aston Martin's lineup wasn't looking as fresh as Ferrari or Porsche. The V8 Vantage had retained essentially the same design since 1977 and looked downright archaic parked next to a Ferrari Testarossa or Lamborghini Countach.
Aston turned to longtime partner Zagato to create a limited run of cars based on the aged Vantage. What emerged was a collection of angular, pug-nosed exotics that looked decidedly modern compared to the regular Vantage. Underneath the razor-lined bodywork beat a massaged variant of the trusty Tadek Marek 5.3-liter V-8, now putting down an impressive 430 hp thanks to thirsty Weber carburetors. The car was relatively light, thanks to the new bodywork, helping the car achieve a top speed of 186 mph.
Only 89 were ever built, 52 of which were coupe and 37 were convertible. These were darlings of the 1980s supercar boom, sometimes changing hands for double the factory invoice. Prices have since cooled, but demand is gradually rising. Lucky for you, buyers can take their pick between coupe or drop-top, as one of each is up for grabs.
1935 Bugatti Type 57 Atalante Prototype
Considering the Concorso d'Eleganza always attracts a certain caliber of collector cars, it's only fitting that RM is offering a fabulously desirable pre-war Bugatti at Villa Erba.
While every Ettore-era Bugatti is worth writing about, this '35 Atalante is particularly special. It is one of only a handful of Bugs to wear bodywork sculpted in-house at the Molsheim factory. Up until the early 1950s, it was extremely common for automakers to outsource bodywork to any number of coachworks, ensuring wealthy customers received their perfect car.
Even more impressive is this car's short ownership history. It remained with the same family for around 62 years before passing into the hands of a collector. Just 16,000 miles rest on the odometer, remaining entirely original aside from a repaint to bring it back to its original presentation. Given the miniscule number of pre-war Bugattis remaining in such original condition and the valuations of other recently sold Type 57s, expect the hammer to fall on this one for at least $7 million.
1985 Lancia Delta S4 "Stradale"
Despite appearances, this bright red Lancia isn't a funky little hatchback that's best suited for grocery store runs. This is a Delta S4 Stradale, a road-going variant of the legendary Group B rally car. In order to qualify for rally use, Lancia was forced to create 200 roadworthy examples of the S4, resulting in these mad homologation specials. The entire rear hatch lifts skyward, revealing a mid-mounted twin-charged 1.8-liter four cylinder. 247 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque is routed to all-four-wheels through a five-speed manual transmission.
This S4 has covered just under 1,000 miles since new, and might be the best chance at getting a Delta S4 that looks as though it just rolled out of the factory. These don't come up for sale that often, so this should claim some hefty coin at Villa Erba.
2006 Ferrari 575M Superamerica and 2001 Ferrari 550 Barchetta
Ferrari is famously stingy with its V-12 drop-tops, reserving that configuration only for the most limited of limited production models. In the early 2000s, Ferrari broke with tradition and offered two twelve-cylinder roadsters in reasonable quantities, the 550 Barchetta and 575 Superamerica. It's since returned to the limited production model, so these cars have risen significantly in value.
To passersby, these might look close to identical, but each has a polar opposite ethos. The 550 Barchetta was created as a true thoroughbred roadster, arriving with a removable soft top that was suited only for stationary use. It was best driven only on fair-weather days, leaving the cumbersome top stowed away in the garage.
The 575M Superamerica is different. The Superamerica featured a retractable glass hardtop that slotted itself into the rear trunklid area. This was meant to be used with some regularity, even if the clouds were ominous.
If you're having trouble choosing, you can't go wrong. Both have a variation of the same F133 V-12 engine, managed by the same six-speed gated manual transmission.
Once you make up your mind, make sure your finances are in order, as these will each claim upwards of seven-figures when the dust settles.
1937 Talbot-Lago T150-C SS Goutte d'Eau Coupe
Quite the mouthful, isn't it? We even left out the crucial "Figoni et Falaschi" postscript. It's a mighty name befitting one of the most concours-friendly cars on the planet.
Just two of these spectacular shapes were ever created with enclosed front fenders. The voluptuous bodywork inspires the "Water Drop" name, arguably serving as the magnum opus of Figoni et Falaschi's portfolio. The distinctive art-deco design wins awards at shows around the world, with a similar car even claimed the coveted "Best in Show" at Pebble Beach in 1997.
Unfortunately, the current body isn't original to the car, but is completely faithful to the original design. The chassis, engine, and transmission are all original to the car, which was faithfully returned back to the Figoni et Falaschi design in 2000.
Only two Talbot-Lago T150s were created with enclosed front fenders, so expect a firm seven- or eight-figure price tag.
1953 Bentley R-Type Continental Sports Saloon
As a digestif, we'll finish with this perfect Bentley R-Type. As the docket enumerates, this is considered by some to be the most desirable post-war Bentley, considering the design, performance, and rarity.
At the time, this claimed to be the fastest four-seat car in production, reaching a then-impressive 120 mph. The long, imperious bodywork is a commanding sight. Like the majority of Flying Bs from this era, all bodywork was done by independent coachbuilders. In this case, H.J Mulliner created this dark green shape.
Values of these have been steadily rising, and now command over seven figures at auction.