17 March 2014

Rare cars don’t always fetch big bucks

Demand is strong for ’50s and ’60s Ferraris and Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupes

Automobiles manufactured in small quantities might make them somewhat rare but not necessarily valuable.

Supply and demand are key in today’s collector car world and recently the big demand has been for specific Ferraris from the ’50s and ’60s and Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing coupes and roadsters.

Last month in Scottsdale, Ariz., I witnessed the sale of a sad-looking 1956 Mercedes Gullwing in need of a complete restoration sell for $1.8 million, and a 1967 Ferrari 330 GTS which had experienced an engine fire and looking rather grim having been untouched and abandoned in a garage selling for over $2 million.

The same could not be said for a 1937 Autovia Special Saloon that sold at an auction in England a number of years ago. Autovia Cars Ltd. began in 1935 with a capital investment from Victor Riley of the famous car manufacturing dynasty.

His plan was to open a subsidiary company and new factory to produce a luxury car. Riley’s new venture was ambitious and even included a chauffeur’s school.

Autovia offered three body types: a sports saloon, a special saloon and a limousine. One could also purchase a rolling chassis and have one of the many coachbuilders of the day build a body of one’s choice.

The cars were powered by an engine that used a previously developed Riley engine block. The very advanced 100-horsepower overhead-valve V8s were fitted with two Zenith carburetors. The 2,849-cubic-centimetre engines had triple camshafts and were capable of cruising comfortably at 145 km/h.

Customers had a choice of gearboxes — either an Armstrong-Siddeley pre-selector box or a four-speed ZF manual, driving a rear-axle fitted with a David Brown, worm final drive which rotated the 19 wire wheels.

The total Autovia production amounted to 29 saloons — one Special Saloon pictured here was the 1937 London Motor Show car — and five limousines. Records are lacking for the remaining cars.

The new marque failed to make any headway in an overcrowded marketplace resulting in Victor Riley’s dream coming to and end in 1938, when Riley and Autovia went into receivership.

This rare one-off Autovia sold for a mere $52,000.

8 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Jarvis B. kennewick July 7, 2014 at 09:20
    How can I get an unbiased appraisal of a semi rare car..?..actually very rare...and classified as a truck.
  • 2
    dale m. buffalo October 31, 2014 at 14:02
    I would like to find out what a 1999 Cadillac Deville Fleetwood Limited is worth. less than 800 made in 1998 - 1999
  • 3
    Gene Trusky CPC PA December 12, 2014 at 11:04
    I'm looking at a '57 MB 190 SL in pretty good shape - excellent mechanically with rebuilt engine w new head & higher compression than original + Weber carbs, excellent rechroming, good body and paint work with both tops; the interior and soft top will need work; mileage under 100k; had been in storage for 20 yrs until recent 5 yrs of restoration. Buyer has a $150k price on it. What is your measured opinion re price of purchase and value going forward?
  • 4
    JODI JOHNSON San Diego, CA April 26, 2015 at 11:02
    I am trying to the value of a vehicle that is very rare
  • 5
    laura townsend Maryland August 12, 2016 at 12:20
    I'm trying to find out how rare a 2006 Mercedes c230 sport edition in white with the alloy trim is. Trying to replace one destroyed and apparently the alloy interior was a luxury upgrade not many chose over the wood which makes it somewhat rare.
  • 6
    Richard hunt efland nc September 27, 2016 at 04:12
    I have a 1983 ford ranger 2.2liter diesel longbed
  • 7
    Richard hunt efland nc September 27, 2016 at 04:14
    I have a 1983 ford ranger 2.2liter diesel longbed truck body's in good shape everything works how much is it worth
  • 8
    Tim Motion London January 27, 2017 at 13:28
    I have a 1953 Chevrolet 210 Sedan gathering dust in France. Body is solid but needs complete overhaul. Regret parting with an old friend.

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