The 2015 RM Sotheby’s Auctions in Hershey

Including a 1951 Mercedes-Benz 170 Da OTP “Police Special” sold at $30,250.

RM AuctionsphotographerDave Kinneywriter

Hershey, Pennsylvania
October 8-9, 2015

Feature Car: 1951 Mercedes-Benz 170 Da OTP "Police Special"
Sold at $30,250

S/N 130139/51
Olive green with a black cloth top over deep green with black leather interior. 40-hp, 1.8-liter OHV inline-four; four-speed manual transmission. Appears to be original and unrestored, though the paint is of a more recent vintage and in poor to fair shape. The older cloth top is worn. The interior appears to be original; a good bit of this car is preserved and not restored. The odometer shows 43,000 kilometers.

The Story Behind the Sale

If you are an automobile manufacturer, one thing you can do to make extra money is to sell older models for special purposes. Contemporary manufacturers have been known to produce cars only for rental or fleet use, and for Mercedes in 1951 such a strategy was an effective way to sell a mostly prewar car.

The Mercedes model 170 was not something that would be competitive on the world market after World War II, but for the German police and border patrol, this car apparently was just fine. The subject car, a model 170 Da (diesel) OTP "Police Special," was said to have been used by the German border patrol and was brought to the United States by a serviceman when he returned home after his tour of duty in Europe.

By the early 1950s Mercedes-Benz was on the verge of building some fast and stylish coupes, sedans, and roadsters. This car wasn't one of them. To get to the future, Mercedes had to build cars that kept the lights on and the workers paid. Let's mark this as a historic car sold at a very good price, an important part of Mercedes-Benz history but not the most memorable part. It was perfect for the annual show at Hershey, which always is about history.

1947 Chrysler Town and Country
Sold at $148,500

S/N 71002156
Sumac red with ash and mahogany wood over burgundy leather and taupe broadcloth interior. 114-hp, 251-cubic-inch L-head inline-six; semi-automatic transmission. It had a quality restoration in 2013 with the original chassis, engine, and body, as well as many Mopar accessories, including a rare automatic battery filler. Has received many class awards at concours events since restoration. The brightwork shows light surface scratches, and the wood siding is starting to separate in places.

Not all wood-bodied cars were station wagons or convertibles, as this sedan clearly shows. For many, the addition of wood denotes an elegance of an era that will never return, and there is no denying its appeal even today. The downside is that wood tends to delaminate and split rather rapidly. This Chrysler­—a conversation starter wherever it goes—sold for a mid-estimate price.

1937 Plymouth PT50 Pickup
Sold at $35,750

S/N 8854523
Black over gray vinyl interior. 82-hp, 201-cubic-inch L-head inline-six; three-speed manual transmission. The paintwork is in very good condition despite scratches and a few cracks. The brightwork is in very good condition with surface scratches. The wheels show some pitting. The interior is in excellent condition. Equipped with whitewall tires and a fender-mounted spare.

With just about 100 miles since its full restoration, this handsome half-ton pickup found a new owner for what is likely less than the cost of its restoration. The whitewalls, although incorrect, are a really nice touch and dress up the sides of this Depression-era truck, which are a little bit light on chrome. Such custom touches are acceptable on collectible pickups, though not on cars. A good example of the Americana found at Hershey every year and a very good truck at a decent price.

1957 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
Sold at $220,000

S/N 5762095559
Elysian Green with green vinyl top over metallic green leather interior. 325-hp, 365-cubic-inch OHV V-8; four-speed automatic transmission. The paint is in excellent condition with only one small touch-up on the trunklid. The brightwork gleams. The interior is as good as or better than new. Equipped with factory A/C, Sabre wheels, and whitewall tires.

This is one of the best, and it was judged so, as it's a Cadillac & LaSalle Club Grand National winner, an Antique Automobile Club of America Senior, as well as Best of Class at Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance. Even though you might see one or two '57 Eldorado Biarritz convertibles a year at car shows, total production was only 1,800. Oh so 1950s, the era of Harley Earl design at GM never got much better than this. The sale price actually looks like a good deal for both buyer and seller.

1946 Hudson Series 58 Pickup
Sold at $46,750

S/N 3885785
Pine green and black with burgundy vinyl interior. 102-hp, 212-cubic-inch L-head inline-six; three-speed manual transmission. The paint is in very good to excellent condition. The brightwork appears to be a bit overlooked, with scratches and pitting, and the grille is missing a piece. The interior is in very good condition. The unrestored dash is in good condition. Less than 10,000 miles on the odometer.

You could say that trucks such as this Hudson were ahead of their time. They offered what were deemed luxurious amenities with an automotive-style interior. In the immediate postwar era, manufacturers could sell anything they built, and for the small businessman who needed both a truck and a car, this was a perfect combination more than a decade before the introduction of the Chevrolet El Camino in 1959.

Best Buy: 1985 Rolls-Royce Corniche Drophead
Sold at $35,750

S/N SCAZD42A0FCX10281
Deep Ocean blue with beige top over beige leather interior. 220-hp, 6.8-liter OHV V-8; three-speed automatic transmission. Includes the original Blaupunkt radio. The paint and brightwork are in very good condition. The front bumper has some light damage. The Everflex vinyl top, likely original, shows its age. The leather seat upholstery shows some wear.

This Rolls is said to have had just two owners since new. Although far from perfect, this Corniche is a pleasant example in an intriguing color that looks pretty darn good after 30 years. A lot of car for the money; specifically, it's close to 3 tons' worth. Despite what you've heard, these Rollers are not as complicated or hard to live with as their reputation might suggest. Very well bought even though it was in the middle of the presale estimate.

1958 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz
Sold at $220,000

S/N 58E023213
Rajah Silver Metallic with white vinyl top over black and white leather interior. 335-hp, 365-cubic-inch OHV V-8; four-speed automatic transmission. The paint, brightwork, and interior are all in excellent condition. The whitewall tires and Sabre wheels are in excellent condition as well. This car is a former Cadillac & LaSalle Club Best in Show winner. More than $300,000 in documented restoration costs.

Sold at the exact same price as the '57 Eldorado Biarritz; they were from the same owner. The smart way to buy a luxurious American car from the 1950s is to let someone else pay for the restoration. The restoration might be a few years old at that point, but you'll get most of the benefits. As one of the nicest examples on the planet, it's worth this bid price.

1956 Plymouth Belvedere Convertible
Sold at $68,750

S/N 15970732
Turquoise and midnight blue with turquoise and blue vinyl interior. 200-hp, 276-cubic-inch OHV V-8; two-speed automatic transmission. The paint has been re-created in the original colors and is in very good condition. The brightwork is in excellent condition. The interior is in mostly excellent condition. Equipped with not only Highway Hi-Fi radio but also a set of 16 1/2-rpm records for the under-dash record player, plus Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. Less than 12,000 miles on the odometer.

One of 6,735 of Plymouth's top-of-the-line car built in 1956. A particularly well-optioned example, this convertible is reported to have had only three owners. Along with many of the usual chrome goodies from the 1950s, this Belvedere had a high-fidelity radio mounted under the dash. If you are tired of Fords and Chevys from the 1950s, this just might be your ticket to Cars and Coffee exclusivity.

1957 Fiat 600 Multipla
Sold at $49,500

S/N 100.108 043042
Cream and teal with teal vinyl interior. 22-hp, 0.6-liter OHV inline-four; four-speed manual transmission. The recent restoration is very clean. The paintwork is in very good condition, but there is rust at the base of the interior front passenger door. The brightwork is in decent condition. The interior is in very good condition. Well done but not over-restored. Equipped with a custom-made luggage rack.

When Neil Young sang that rust never sleeps, he wasn't kidding. Despite its recent restoration, this Fiat is exhibiting some troubling signs that, if not properly addressed, will lead to disappointment soon. Like an iceberg, visible rust is often not all there is; it's instead just the leading indicator of what might be underneath. This Fiat is cute, fun, and a little bit expensive when you throw in the corrosion. Perfect for a family of circus clowns.

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